In 2003 Swansea City were almost relegated to the Conference. A decade later and the Swans are one of the Premier Leagues most impressive sides.
Beginning life back in 1912, the Welsh club played for many years in the lower leagues of English football, having been inducted into the leagues in the 1920’s. During the early years they reached a high of 6th in the original 1st Division, before a period of decline until the turn of the 21st century.
It was during the 1980’s that Swansea reached arguably the lowest point in its history. A meteoric rise through the leagues was matched only by Swansea’s equally as impressive fall from grace as, under the leadership of John Toshack, the club suffered two consecutive relegations. By 1985 the Swans were fighting a war on two fronts – survival in the old Third Division and a fight for the clubs very survival due its poor finances. High Court hearings and the threat of liquidation did little to help the side’s league form; as a team made up of old pros that were a long way over the hill, combined with youth players could do little as they suffered relegation.
Swansea’s finances were eventually secured by local businessman Doug Sharp, but eight years of promotions and progress under Toshack had been undone as the Welshmen found themselves back where they had started in the Fourth Division.
Two decades of strife and trouble followed as the club ailed to find its feet once again, and a series of unsuccessful promotions followed by relegation followed, as well as a host of managers.
However, the clubs rise to fame began in 2005 after a move to the Liberty Stadium, marking a modern approach for the club as it began to challenge for promotion from League One. Roberto Martinez took charge a year later and it took the Spaniard just two seasons to push the Swans to the league title, amassing 92 points along the way which included an 18-match unbeaten streak. Since then they are yet to look back upon their former troubles.
Swansea made an impressive start to life back in the second tier of English football, finishing eighth in 2009, which pushed the club on the following season as they finished third in the table. The Swans firmly asserted their authority over the two play-off games, beating Nottingham Forest 3-1 in the semi’s before a thrilling 4-2 triumph over Reading in the final at Wembley. A hat-trick from winger Scott Sinclair the highlight of a campaign in which Brendan Rodgers men, who had only recently replaced Martinez who left for Wigan, began to show some of the attacking flair that would impress so many the following seasons in the Premier League.
And becoming the first Welsh side to ever play in the top division did little to stifle the fluent and progressive football shown in the lower divisions. The men in white climbed to 11th in the table following high profile victories against Arsenal, Liverpool and eventual league Champions Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium.
However, many thought that Rodgers departure to Liverpool during the summer, in concordance with the so called ‘second season syndrome’ may tip Swansea for the drop. Thankfully for Swans fans this does not appear to be the case. Under the leadership of Danish legend Michael Laudrup Swansea has once again evolved into a progressive and possession oriented outfit.
Laudrup’s legendary status in the game has enabled him to pull of major transfer coups in the form of Pablo Hernandez from Valencia, as well as Jonathan De Guzman and Michu: the latter in particular impressing this season having scored 13 league goals at the turn of the year. At the time of writing they sit ninth in the table, just a handful of points behind Liverpool and a shot at Europe.
An expansive footballing style matched with their all white home kit, Swansea have been cited as the league’s very own ‘mini Real Madrid’, whilst also being referred to as ‘Swansealona’ in reference to a style of play not too dissimilar to that of Spanish giants Barcelona.
But it is not just the football that has earned this Welsh side so many plaudits. The Swansea City Supporters Society owns 20% of the club, with their involvement hailed by Supporters Direct as “the most high profile example of the involvement of a Supporters Trust in the direct running of a club”.
A prime example of secure financial running of a club over the past decade, combined with a legendary manager and ardent fans should ensure that this is one club that should maintain its place in England’s top flight for many years to come. A few more shrewd signings from Laudrup in the summer could also see Swansea City pushing for Europe and Cup success over the following seasons.