It’s a season where we face Southampton in the top flight, our club haunted by the threat of relegation domestically but enjoying European football on the continent; no it’s not 2014, it is 1982 as Vetch Field Memories whisks you back to one of the few wins of the traumatic 1982/83 season…
After a momentous first season in the top flight hopes were high for an exciting second term in the First Division, but after a solid enough start the Swans found themselves struggling through a difficult campaign.
Bob Latchford apart, the strikers had stopped scoring and things weren’t much easier at the other end of the field with no fewer than SIX defenders ruled out for a prolonged period of time.
Football life hadn’t been much kinder to Southampton either. Star striker Kevin Keegan had walked out on the eve of there season, star players Mark Wright and Steve Moran had just spent six days in a Swedish jail after a false rape accusation and despite a four game unbeaten run the club were languishing near the bottom of the table.
Given both sides struggles then, it came as a major surprise to the meagre Vetch Field crowd of just over 10,600when they witnessed a contender for game of the season!
The Swans’ defensive crisis was starting to ease with Ante Rajkovic able to make a welcome return to the starting line up. Joining him was Wyndham Evans, the full back finally making his home debut in the top flight after an early injury away at Spurs ruined his entire first season at the top level.
Evans had sealed his place in the team with an outstanding display three nights earlier as the Swans narrowly lost the first leg of their Cup Winner Cup tie against Paris St Germain, the French side running out 1-0 winners at the Vetch.
Up front, Toshack persisted with the out of form Alan Curtis alongside Latchford…and it proved to be an inspired choice as Curt threatened to take Southampton apart all by himself, his silky skills dominating the first half in particular.
But for all Curt’s excellence in creating good chances for Mahoney, James and Latchford – who were all denied by the excellent Wells in the Southampton goal – it was the visitors that took the lead in controversial fashion right on the stroke of half-time through their on loan striker Justin Fashanu.
A twice taken free kick was allowed to find Fashanu and he hooked the ball over the head of Dai Davies from the edge of the area. The linesman, however, had flagged for off-side during the build up only to lower his flag again and let play go on, much to the home side’s anger and dismay.
It was all too much for the Swans’ assistant manager Phil Boersma, who found himself getting booked by referee Stephen Bates after he remonstrated with the official as the teams left the field for the interval.
It didn’t take long for the Swans to get over their ill-fortune for Southampton’s opener, profiting from a huge slice of luck of their own five minutes after the break as Rofe headed a Curtis cross into his own net to level the scores at 1-1.
It didn’t stay like that for long though as within a further three minutes the home side had gone in front AND been pegged back by their South Coast visitors.
Southampton were still reeling from the own goal when Wyndham Evans delivered a magnificent 30 yard pass that Robbie James hit instantly to crash a fierce cross shot into the roof of the net.
The home side’s joy was short lived though as Danny Wallace beat Davies with a simple finish after being put in the clear by his strike partner Fashanu.
The game settled for a spell after that frenzied bout of scoring at the beginning of the second half but it seemed obvious that there was at least another goal in the game as Curtis continued to probe intelligently for the Swans and Fashanu carried on causing problems for the home rearguard.
And it was very nearly Southampton that grabbed the vital fifth goal of the game. Rajkovic was guilty of dwelling on the ball and when Steve Williams took it off him and proceeded to round first Dudley Lewis and then goalkeeper Davies it seemed inevitable that the Swans would fall behind.
Alas for Southampton, Williams’ touch to take him past the ‘keeper had forced him a little wide and although he aimed at an empty net his shot rolled wide of the post.
The Swans went on to punish Southampton for that glaring miss as they grabbed a dramatic winner in the dying minutes. Gary Stanley whipped a wicked ball into the opposition box and Loveridge’s glancing header was chested home by Latchford for his seventh League goal of the campaign.
It was a win for Swansea but ultimately Southampton stayed up and the Swans went down along with Manchester City and Brighton…
…let’s hope the co-incidences mentioned in the opening paragraph of this Vetch Field Memory don’t stretch to the dreaded drop in 2014 to match the relegation in the early ’80s!
This instalment of Vetch Field Memories appeared in Vol. 4 Issue 5 of “A Touch Far Vetched!” – and yes, we stayed UP 😉