A history of the club

Beginnings

The idea of sport as mass entertainment was well established by 1912. The first Swansea football team had been formed in 1872, as a winter activity for the town’s cricket players. This did not last long, and in 1874 the cricket lads switched to rugby and the All Whites – Swansea RFC was born. Their home, St.Helen’s was host to an international soccer match between Wales and Ireland in 1874, with a crowd of 10,000. The founding of the Football  League in 1888 began the process of professionalising the game in the UK, but it was 20 years or so before the professional game came to South Wales

There was some football at the Vetch Field in the 1890s, when a Swansea FC team formed at the YMCA played there. It was an open space with a cycle track around the edge. Various teams played in the local leagues with Swansea somewhere in their names, including an earlier Swansea Town and Swansea Villa. Notable exhibition friendlies were played, including one against Derby County in the 1897-8 season.

In 1912 a number of local citizens met to start a local professional club, feeling that the mood was right and the crowds were there. J.W. Thorpe was the first Chairman, and it was a mixture of commercial investment and pride in the town that resulted in a squad of players being recruited from all over the UK. The team entered the Southern League, joining Cardiff City and a number of other Welsh teams. The pitch at the Vetch was a grassless cinder surface, and was ready to play on just in time.

On 7th September 1912 the first professional league match for Swansea Town took place at the Vetch Field. The opponents were Cardiff City, and the match ended 1-1. There was some discrepancy between the Swansea-based and Cardiff-centric newspapers over the exact size of the crowd, but several thousand turned out to watch.

Billy Ball, transferred from Stoke City, scored the first goal for the Swans. Ball played for the Town until 1920, scoring 27 goals in 57 first-team appearances. Not only the first Swan to score a league goal, he was the first to score a competitive hat-trick, and the first player to be sent off. Billy stayed on in Swansea until his death in 1960, aged 72. He was the first Swansea football hero.

The first season was highly successful, with the Swans winning the Welsh League, the Welsh Cup, and coming 3rd in the Southern League Second Division. The club felt able to invest in the ground, and in the summer of 1913, the central part of the South Stand was built, and a grass pitch laid.

The team didn’t quite achieve promotion to the First Division before the First World War interrupted professional football.  They did, however, record one of their most famous results in January 1915. Drawn at home against the reigning Football League Champions Blackburn Rovers, the Swans emerged 1-0 victors. The goal was scored by Benny Beynon, a local man and amateur player who was capped for Wales – at rugby! Blackburn also missed a penalty, with the culprit, Bradshaw, having scored with his previous 36 spot-kicks.

The War and after.

Professional football was eventually brought to a halt as the war progressed, and the Vetch Field was commandeered for military drill – the local Territorial Army centre, known locally as The Arsenal, was next to the ground. The ending of League competition was a financial disaster for the commercial clubs, but charity matches, friendlies and inter-service matches kept Swansea Town from going under.

A match on 1st April 1918 between Swansea Town and the Royal Flying Corps competed with an international rugby match at St. Helen’s, but 10,000 people still turned up to see the football. The South Wales Daily Post did not advertise the soccer game, as the rugby was in aid of the paper’s own charitable fund.

After the war, it took a couple of years for football to get back on a proper footing. Big changes took place in 1920, with the incorporation of the top division of the Southern League into the Football League to create a new national Third Division. From the 1920-21 season Swansea has competed in the Football League, and has spent time in every division.

The promise and impetus of the pre-war years carried over into the 1920s. The Swans’ first divisional championship was secured in 1925, when they rose to the Second Division by winning the Third Division (South) title.  The key players who led this triumph were goal-scoring machine Jack Fowler, who netted 100 times for the Swans in 167 league matches; centre-half Joe Sykes who spent 11 seasons at the club as a player, and continued in coaching and scouting roles for many more years; and Wilf Milne, the Swan who holds by far the record for the most outfield appearances for the club – 587 league and 44 Cup games. The championship season included the home match against Charlton in which Jack Fowler scored 5 goals.

The 1925-26 season saw the Swans consolidate their position in Division 2, and embark on a tremendous FA Cup run to the semi-final. A famous 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Vetch was followed by the heartbreak of losing the semi-final to Bolton at White Hart Lane.

This successful season was the last that manager Joe Bradshaw spent at the club, having led the team from 1919, into the League and up to the 2nd Division.

The 1920s ended with the Vetch Field adorned with a new two-tier stand, the Double Decker at the west end.

The 1930s and war again

The 1930s saw the Swans perform steadily in the 2nd Division, although flirts with relegation dogged the decade. In 1931 the club avoided relegation on the last day of the season; a feat repeated in 1938. In between, Cyril Pearce set a record for scoring 35 goals in a season in 1931-32, a feat still not beaten. In that season Swansea Town played their 500th League match away at Burnley. The season ended with a Welsh Cup triumph.

Another scoring feat took place in April 1934 – Wilf Milne scored his first goal for the Swans in 501 appearances, netting a penalty. His second (another penalty) came a few weeks later, to save the Swans from relegation.

In early 1935, a young Stanley Matthews scored against the Swans for Stoke City in an FA Cup 3rd Round match (4-1 to the Swans). He scored again 29 years later, when Swansea disposed of Stoke on the way to FA Cup Semi-final glory in 1964.

The general economic situation, a period of depression and high unemployment, contributed to the club’s difficult finances. In the Summer of 1935 there was an appeal to the fans to raise money to “save the club from decline”. The Evening Post started a Shilling Fund.  Creative attempts were made to raise funds by staging alternative events at the Vetch. One example was boxing, and several matches were put on.

1936 saw the first ever radio broadcast of a Swansea game, made on Boxing Day at Villa Park.

If the 1930s were not filled with the first-team’s highest achievements, in contrast the Swansea Schoolboys team reached spectacular heights. Having come close on 2 previous occasions, the schoolboys’ team won the English Schools Shield in 1939. The final was a close-run thing, with the original match a 1-1 draw against Chesterfield in Derbyshire. In a replay at the Vetch, 20,000 spectators saw the young Swans triumph 2-1. This was the first nationally-contested cup which any Swansea team won, and Swansea were the first Welsh team to achieve such an honour.

Once again War intervened to interrupt the rise of that schoolboy generation, and this time professional football was suspended very soon after the outbreak of World War II. The vetch was requisitioned, this time to host an anti-aircraft gun battery. For a couple of years the Swans played their games at St. Helen’s. As in WWI, friendlies and charity games, often with guest players on leave from the armed forces, were the staple wartime fare.

The Golden Years

Immediately after WWII, the Swans had a bit of a blip, getting relegated to Division 3 in 1947. It was, however, the period of the highest average attendances for football. In the aftermath of the war, there was little else to occupy people’s new-found leisure time. For those who had been in uniform, the sense of belonging was very strong – both to the rest of the crowd, and as a re-forging of links with home, often after many years away. The Swansea crowd averages of the late 1940s have never been topped since.  This tremendous groundswell of support lifted Swansea Town out of its trough and on to triumph in the 1948-49 season, when the team stormed back in to Division 2 as Champions of Division 3. 28,623 fans watched the 2-1 victory over Newport at the Vetch which brought promotion with 4 matches still to play.

The season’s stats: 17 successive home wins; 6 successive away wins; 27 victories overall; a goal difference of +53; the most points of any team in a 2-points-for-a-win situation, up to that date.

It was not just the partisan hordes of supporters, but the new manager Billy McCandless, who had taken over during the 1947-48 season, made a huge difference. He was something of a South Wales legend, having already secured promotions as manager of Cardiff and Newport.

The 1940s ended with a notable debut – a local lad called Ivor Allchurch played his first senior game for the Swans, ushering in a “Golden Age” of Swansea soccer. It was during the 1950s that Swansea’s home-grown talent programme really came to fruition, and the team had an abundance of local players of the highest quality.

In 1950, the Schoolboys’ team won the English Shield for the 2nd time, including amongst their number one Mel Nurse – someone who would go on to serve the club in many important roles, not just as an outstanding player. The boys went on to win the Shield twice more in the ‘50s.

Apart from the “Golden Boy” (Ivor Allchurch) the “Golden Years” saw the closest possible bond between town and team. In November 1952 at Fulham, only one of the team was not Welsh; 8 of the players were Swansea born and raised. The club was also a family affair at this time, with 3 sets of brothers playing for the team in this season: Gilbert and Cyril Beech; Ivor and Len Allchurch; and Cliff and Brin Jones. Mel Charles also made his debut – but his brother John had been poached from the Swans at 16, and played for Leeds.

The Swans’ play was open and attractive, and they had the potential to reach the top flight. But their seasons were characterised by a fabulous home form, and dismal away showings. The record home League attendance against Leeds in 1955 (29,477) showed how much the club was supported. But scoring goals for fun often led to conceding far too many. Added to this, the club was always struggling financially (déjà vu?) and the fans’ biggest moan was the selling of the talent to bigger clubs to balance the books. The great promise of the decade looked to have come to nought, when after avoiding relegation on the last day of the 1957-58 season, Ivor Allchurch was sold to Newcastle the following autumn.

At least the fans on the North Bank could grumble in the dry after 1959 – the roof was added after the Supporters’ Trust handed over £16,000.

 

The 1960s

The Swinging Sixties opened with yet more modernisation – the first floodlit game was played at the Vetch in 1960. Hibernian were the visitors. In the same year the Swans played their first game in the League Cup, against Blackburn. 1960 ended sadly, however, with the death of Billy Ball, the hero of the first match in 1912.

In 1961 the Swans won the Welsh Cup, and qualified for a new European competition – the Cup Winners Cup. Swansea became the first Welsh club to enter any European competition, but their journey was short-lived, as they lost in the first round to Motor Jena of East Germany.

These steps in to a wider world of football were taken against a background of a deteriorating financial situation – what must have come to seem like normal service to the majority of fans.

If the 1960s were not quite the nostalgic “Golden Age” of the ‘50s, the Swans still achieved one of the highlights of their first hundred years, in the FA Cup of 1963-64. Having passed the milestone of 1,000 League games in the previous season, Swansea Town went on a fantastic cup run to reach the semi-final for the second time. The route was long and arduous:

3rd Round Home Barrow 4-1
4th Round Away Sheffield United 1-1
4th Round (replay) Home Sheffield United 4-0
5th Round Away Stoke City 2-2
5th Round (replay) Home Stoke City 2-0
6th Round (Quarter F) Away Liverpool 2-1
Semi-final Villa Park Preston North End 1-2

 

The quarter-final win at Liverpool was felt to be one of the best games the Swans had ever played, and certainly the best performance the Irish goalkeeper Noel Dwyer ever gave. The contrast with the muddy struggle against 2nd-Division Preston in the rain at Villa Park was stark, and dreams of a first Wembley appearance were dashed.

The club found it hard to get over that “nearly moment” and slumped to the 3rd Division the following season, for the first time in 16 years. This may have been avoided if the Swans had not got rid of a “lazy but gifted” young Italian-Welsh player by the name of Giorgio Chinaglia. He went to Italy, and went on to score a vast quantity of goals for Lazio, New York Cosmos, and the Italian national team. He sadly died this year (2012), but will remain, along with John Charles, amongst the games’ greats who slipped through Swansea’s fingers. Although as Giorgio himself said, after the rigours of training in Italy, the he would “still be in Swansea drinking ale” if his father had not taken him away from South Wales. Perhaps this is a hint of why the Swans were not doing so well!  After a second European campaign on the back of winning the Welsh Cup, they found themselves in the uncharted waters of Division 4 in 1967, and this despite Ivor’s return for the last years of his career.

Perversely, the biggest ever crowd at the Vetch turned up in the 4th Round of the FA Cup in early 1968, with 32,796 watching Arsenal win.

From Town to City

Although a step up in status for the town meant the Swans became “City” in March 1970, there was a bit of yo-yoing between Divisions 3 and 4 in the early part of the decade.  Endless “Swans going bust” stories continued as ever.  But even though it was a bad year in the league, 1973 saw the debuts of two of a new generation of Swansea-born legends. Alan Curtis and Robbie James both made their debuts as teenagers in a relegation year.

With average attendances slipping below 3,000 for the first time in 1974, the financial disaster stories really did come true. If it was not for the City Council stepping in and buying the ground for £50,000, and paying off a big chunk of the club’s debt, things would have ended then. There were grumblings that the board had not realised the true value of the ground – but to be honest they were lucky there was still a club to grumble about. The next year was even worse – to cap all of the crises of the previous year, the Swans had to apply for re-election to the Football League, after finishing 91st out of the 92 clubs.

Having reached the bottom, the only way was up. What followed is one of the more remarkable stories in football.  It would probably have surprised no-one that ten years later the Swans would be in the 3rd Division,  bust and about to go out of business. Anybody who could have predicted what happened in the intervening 10 years would not have been believed.

The team did improve under manager Harry Griffiths, a former player and devoted Swansea City man. Exciting young players were coming through, and there were some grounds for optimism, or at least survival, although Griffiths resigned over lack of resources. John Toshack was appointed player-manager. The former Cardiff City and Liverpool and striker made his debut in March 1978, scoring in a 3-3 home draw with Watford. The Swans were promoted to Division 3 at the end of that season, but the triumph was tinged with sadness as Harry Griffiths died of a heart attack at his beloved Vetch Field.

“Tosh” went on to lead the men in white to another promotion the following season, with the heady heights of Division 2 regained after a long absence. It was the player-manager who scored the winner to clinch promotion, having brought himself on as a substitute. That season also saw the Swans’ first appearance on Match of the Day.

1980s – The Roller-Coaster Years.

Toshack continued to weave his magic, but his methods included buying in experienced players and increasing the wage bill. By the time the new East Stand was opened at the Vetch in early 1981, the season was not promising greatness. But after a long hard slog, the Swans left it late to achieve what had seemed an impossible dream only a few years previously. After “a hard-fought win in a supercharged atmosphere” Swansea city finally climbed into the First Division. Those who were at the game against Preston experienced only marginally more excitement than those glued to their radios in sheds, waiting by the telephone or watching for the results on TV.  The tension was unbearable, but in the end the fans were ecstatic.  As an afterthought, the Swans also won the Welsh Cup to earn a place in the European Cup Winners Cup once more.

The first ever game for Swansea in the top flight of the Football League took place on 29th August 1981. A good crowd of 23,000+ saw quite the most explosive debut for many a year – fired by a Bob Latchford hat-trick, the Swans overwhelmed Leeds United 5-1. Swansea City had definitely arrived in the First Division.

Throughout that season, the Swans were never out of the top 6, and could quite realistically have won the title.  The Man on the North Bank knew of course that it couldn’t last. The swans burned too brightly in that first top-flight season, and the following year were busted back down to the 2nd Division, after a dismal showing.  They did, surprisingly, have a good time in the Cup Winners Cup, including recording the club’s all-time record victory in a competitive match. This was a 12-0 home win against Sliema Wanderers of Malta in the Swans’ second tie, after seeing off Braga. They were undone in the following round by Paris St. Germain.

Doug Sharpe became chairman, John Toshack resigned, then came back, then got sacked; in the end, things just fell apart, and the team slipped into Division 3 at the end of the 1983-84 season. Fans might have been forgiven for thinking things could not get much worse, but after surviving relegation (again) on the last day of the previous season, in December 1985 the manager was sacked and the club put into receivership. “Swansea to be wound up” headlines were seen, and one national newspaper even printed a league table in which the Swans and all their results had been removed.

A big push by various groups of fans raised money and new investment to save the club. Individuals made real sacrifices, giving up bonds, shares, and money to keep the Swans afloat. Manchester United even played a friendly match to raise money, from which £45,000 came. By January 1986 things had stabilised and the court order was rescinded.

It was no surprise to anyone that the team failed to perform on the pitch, given what had happened off it, and relegation to the 4th Division was inevitable. Things, everyone felt, could only get better. The 1980s certainly ended in a slightly more optimistic place, with manager Terry Yorath leading the club back into the 3rd Division via the playoff system in 1988.  Yorath left, but the Welsh Cup was won again in 1989, bringing European football to the Vetch once more. Despite a thrilling 3-3 match at home to Panathinaikos, the Swans went out at the first hurdle 5-6 on aggregate.

 The 1990s

The 1990s began a bit more brightly, with the biggest crowd for 8 seasons at the Vetch to watch a gripping 0-0 draw with Liverpool in the FA Cup. That was pretty much it for the season, and sadly the replay was something of a farce, with the Swans crashing to an 8-0 defeat. After a limp showing for the rest of the campaign, relegation was staved off once again on the last day. It was also Alan Curtis’ last match, watched by under 6,000 due to Council safety restrictions.

The crumbling state of the stadium was becoming more embarrassing, and in the summer of 1990 the Double Decker stand was demolished (the upper tier had been unsafe for years). In addition, the North Bank was partly closed off for safety reasons. Talk of moving to a new stadium at Morfa was already old news, but seemed both urgently necessary, and still a long way off.

Despite the dilapidated Vetch, the team managed to win the Welsh Cup in 1991, and so embark on what, to date, has been their last European adventure. This saw the first visit to the Vetch Field by a royal head of state, as Prince Rainier of Monaco watched his team beat Swansea 0-2. The return leg was a jolly holiday for many fans, but there was no pleasure in the 0-8 defeat.

The ‘90s were a curious mixture of some playing success mixed with further brushes with financial disaster. Ultimately, not enough money was invested in the club to take it any further on the playing front, and the home ground needed to be demolished and replaced at a time when football was undergoing dramatic changes (the Premier League was inaugurated in 1993).

The Swans strove for improvement of their own status, losing in the playoff semi-final in 1993, only to make it to Wembley for the first time the following year. This was in the final of the Football League Trophy (sponsored that year by Autoglass), and after a goalless draw with Huddersfield, Swansea came through on penalties. It was a real high point for the fans, after so many years of low achievement.

In 1995 Swansea reached the milestone of 3,000 Football League games. This was followed not long after by another setback. Doug Sharpe had had enough, fickle fans having forgotten that he had rescued the club 10 years previously, but giving him a very hard time for not investing more to achieve success. The new owner brought in an inexperienced manager who the players refused to listen to, and Sharpe returned from holiday to take back the club before the 21-day “cooling off” period had expired. Kevin Cullis remains the most obscure and shortest-serving manager the Swans ever had.

He was succeeded by Danish player-manager Jan Molby, but there was not enough time or resources for him to prevent relegation to the lowest division in 1996.

Life back in the basement did not start well, Molby missing a penalty and getting sent off in the first match of the 1996-97 season.  Chairman Sharpe was still trying to sell the club, and at one point all the players were for sale as well.  Nevertheless, the “Great Dane” fired the team to the play-off final in 1997. The Swans narrowly lost to Northampton Town on their second visit to Wembley. Doug Sharpe finally sold the club to Silver Shield Group plc, who came in with grand plans to move to a new stadium.

The following year or so had a tinge of hysteria about it, as managers came and went rapidly. The merry-go-round stopped  with John Hollins, who took the team to another unsuccessful playoff semi-final in 1999. The following year Hollins led the team to the Championship of Division 3 (the old 4th Division). The winning point was secured away at Rotherham, a match marred by the death of supporter Terry Coles.  Despite this bad omen, there was real cause for optimism at the opening of the new millennium.

The 21st century

The opening game of the 2000-01 season saw the biggest crowd on the first day for nearly 20 years. The opponents were Wigan Athletic, who featured a Spanish player making his first visit to the Vetch – Roberto Martinez.

The loyal fans might have been forgiven for thinking that the club was on the up again. But the history of Swansea City/Town should have warned them that every sniff of success was the herald of some disaster. The management of the club had been hampered by a mismatch between income and expenditure for pretty much its whole existence, and things were finally coming to a head in the worst crisis of them all – and certainly the events of the next couple of years matched anything that had happened previously in terms of farce.

In January 2001, as work on the new stadium was given the go-ahead, the owners put the club up for sale for £3m, and announced a half-year loss of £800,000. The instability that this situation caused led to poor performances on the pitch, and the team was relegated once again. In the summer of 2001, construction of the new stadium was postponed.  The club was then sold for £1 to Managing Director Mike Lewis – a sale which included the liability for the £800,000 debt.

The most important event which took place in response to these events was the formation of the Swansea City Supporters Trust in August 2001. This type of organisation was perhaps made possible by the internet and the ease of communication via e-mail and mobile phone – the fans could talk to each other independently of the club, in a way not possible before.

In October Australian-based businessman Tony petty took over the club, promising to inject cash and erase the debt. Later that month he sacked some of the players and altered contracts for others. A local consortium offered Petty £50,000 for the club. Ex-played Mel Nurse was the most prominent member of this group. There were demonstrations in the city centre calling for “Petty Out!”.

High court action followed, but Petty held on. On Christmas Eve he called from Australia to say there was no money to pay the players, and the PFA (the players’ union) helped out. Finally, in January 2002, news came that Petty had handed the club over to the Mel Nurse consortium. The lease on the ground was sold back to the Council, and the club was put into a Company Voluntary Agreement. Many people lost money under this arrangement, including several directors, Nurse among them.

A new ownership model emerged over the next year, with the Supporters Trust investing  money in the club, in return for board representation. The Trust owns 20% of the club.

Meanwhile, there was still football to be played. Roger Freestone, the loyal goalkeeper, passed 500 appearances for the club in August 2002, and remains the only Swansea ‘keeper to have scored in a game. But despite Freestone’s efforts, the off-field chaos took its toll on the team performances, and the Swans were in trouble. There was the real prospect of falling out of the Football League as the re-election system was no longer in place. The 2002-2003 season nearly saw all of the amazing work of the Supporters Trust and the other saviours of the club come to nothing.

Brian Flynn took over as manager in late 2002, to try and arrest the free-fall. One of his signings in early 2003 was Roberto Martinez, the stylish Spaniard formerly with Wigan. Current Premier League star Leon Britton also arrived to bolster the team after campaigns to get fans to contribute directly to players costs. Everything narrowed down to the last day of the season, the Swans having won their last away game. Home to Hull with everything resting on a victory was the final low-point of the Swans’ first century. Work was proceeding on the new stadium after the Council took over management of it, but there was little point without a League team to play in it.

3 May 2003 – One of the most dramatic games in the long history of the club ended in a 4-2 win over Hull, three of the goals being scored by local man James Thomas. The Swans were saved.

The crises of 2002-2003 have so far represented the low-tide mark for the Swans, and since that time the fortunes of the club have steadily risen.

In the 2003-04 season the club was joined by Lee Trundle, who added not only goals but an attitude of fun to the way the Swans played. Trundle had a scoring ratio in his first spell at Swansea bettered only by Jack Fowler’s in the 1920s, and provided an entertainment value often sadly lacking in the past. Although the team’s league form was erratic and saw Brian Flynn resign in March 2004, they reached the 5th Round of the FA Cup for the first time in 24 years.

Other milestones included the first transfer fee paid for a player for nearly 5 years; and the lifting of the CVA removed the fear of liquidation. Work had progressed on the new stadium to the point where it would be ready for the 2005-2006 season.

This left the small matter of the last season at the Vetch Field to be negotiated. A nostalgic end to a long love-affair with the tumbledown stadium saw the Swans achieve promotion to League 1 (the old 3rd Division). The last League goal at the Vetch was scored by Adrian Forbes against Shrewsbury Town, in front of 11,469 supporters. The last match there was the Welsh Cup Final a couple of weeks later.  After Swansea had beaten Wrexham the ground was ransacked by souvenir-hungry fans. The old-fashioned turnstiles would never rattle again to signal an expectant crowd gathering to watch their beloved Swans. The Vetch might have been a poor and embarrassing home, but it had been home for 93 years. Situated in heart of the city, it had been a part of the lives of generations of Swansea football fans.

The New Stadium (as it was known before sponsorship by Liberty Properties) opened for business in the 2005-06 season with a 1-0 League 1 win over Tranmere Rovers. There were 9,000 season ticket holders, keeping pace with the growing numbers of Supporters Trust members. During that season the Swans clocked up their 3,500th League game. The tide of new hope and optimism washed the Swans to brink of promotion, but they lost in the playoff final at the Millennium Stadium; some consolation came in the form of a second League Trophy at the same venue.

2007 saw the Swans come close to the playoffs again, after Roberto Martinez had taken over as manager. Lee Trundle was sold in the summer, but the following season saw continued success as promotion to the Football League Championship was secured – a return to the second tier for the first time since 1984.

As the Centenary of the club approached, there was a change of managers before Brendan Rodgers settled into the role. He developed the “Swansea style” of skilled passing possession to take the Swans to the ultimate pinnacle: the club were able to celebrate their hundredth birthday in the Premier League. The stories of the 2011 playoffs, ending in the pulsating game at Wembley when Reading were beaten 4-2, are the stuff of new Swansea City legends. It was a dramatic time, and vindicated all of the efforts made by everyone associated with the club.

At the end of the day – well, at the end of the 36,500 days of the Swans’ first century – it has been the fans who have carried the club through thick and thin. The current sunshine of the “promised land” is a reward for all the difficult times. But what is certain is that if the club’s fortunes dip again, the fans will be there to make sure they survive for another hundred years.

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