Nobody is bigger than the club, but in Alan Curtis’s case it’s a close run thing as he’s been the heartbeat of Swansea City for more than four decades. Now he gets to ride off into the Mumbles sunset on an open top tour bus as he announces his retirement from all forms of coaching. His departure, well earned as it is, will leave a gaping hole in the very fabric of Swansea City and the club that has been rapidly losing its identity over the last few years will never quite feel the same again.
Curt’s announcement yesterday on the day he officially became a pensioner resulted in an outpouring of affection from fans and ex players alike. It was a well deserved ‘love in’ for a man that has served the Swans with distinction as a player, coach, and caretaker manager off and on for forty years.
Curt the player was instrumental in the Swans’ rise from the bottom division to the top, starring first for his mentor Harry Griffiths and then for John Toshack. His game was typified by movement and trickery allied to a deadly reliability in front of goal which led to a prolific 110 strikes in his three spells which spanned more than 400 appearances. One of those 110 strikes will always stand out above the others though…who could ever forget the driving run from the right touchline, the scintillating side step and the right foot rocket into the corner against former club Leeds in the Swans’ first ever First Division game?
Not even a spell at our bitter rivals Cardiff City could reduce the affection felt for Curt – and the fact the Bluebirds fans never held his Swans roots against him tells you all you need to know about Alan Curtis’ standing in the game as a player and a servant of Welsh football.
Curt the coach was just as influential; his team talks before the Rochdale and Hull fixtures are the stuff of legend, firing up Flynn’s side to secure safety and avoid the catastrophe of dropping out of the Football League. His coaching Houdini act wasn’t confined to the lower leagues either as his spell as caretaker manager and then alongside Francesco Guidolin saw the Swans stave off the drop out of the Premier League a few years ago.
Of course it wasn’t all hearts and flowers – it never would be over such a long period at a rollercoaster club like Swansea City. There were departures for pastures new, struggles with financial disaster and cold hearted sackings – who can ever forget the outrage at Huw Jenkins sacking Curt as coach by TEXT during the Clement era?
But during all of the good times and the many bad times the one thing you could rely on is Alan Curtis keeping his feet on the ground, his head level and his dignity intact.
For all of his undoubted qualities as a player and member of the backroom staff Curt will be remembered just as much for his qualities as a man. Nothing was ever too much for Curt and his contribution to local charities has been immense. Curt is currently patron of Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre and he’s fulfilled the same role in many other charities over the years. And indeed, Curt has been a big friend of A Touch Far Vetched and always done whatever he can to support our charitable endeavours.
It’s a sad time for me personally as Curt will always be my biggest hero and he’s linked intrinsically to my love of the Swans; my days as a nipper spending time with my grandfather Wilf Merriman (who ran the Harry Griffiths bar) forged my love of the Swans and Curt was always in the picture during those days. Indeed my grandfather had many a choice tale to tell about their drinking endeavours!
Fortunately Curt won’t be lost to the club completely and his elevation to Honorary Club President is welcome and his mere presence at the Liberty should be more than enough to inspire this new generation of young prospects that we are forced to rely upon.
Curt, on behalf of all at ATFV I’d like to wish you well in your retirement and offer the most heartfelt thanks for all your years of service to the club we all love so much, Swansea City.