Stuart Roberts Interview

Sunday, 21 October 2001, 0:01
7 mins read

We caught up with Stuart the day after he watched his new team-mates gain a 1-0 win at Ashton Gate pleasing the new Welsh signing and leading him to declare that they could easily have won by more.

For anyone that has spoken to Stuart in the past, they will realise that he is Swansea City through and through and it would be fair to say that if you did open him up he probably would bleed black and white.

The transfer fee involved in this sale is an insult not just to us as a football club but also an insult to Stuart himself. He is worth more than that and I am sure that he is destined for things higher than Wycombe Wanderers – no offence to the chairboys.

It’s not been an easy time for anyone at Swansea these last few weeks and for someone, who is still only 21 years old, he has carried himself with some dignity. He did not want to leave Swansea but for his own best interests he had no choice, now he has these thoughts for the Swansea fans.

PS: Stuart, you have been on a week-to-week contract at the club since your old deal expired at the end of last season. How did the contract talks go with the club?

SR: I was offered an initial deal back in January and it was not what I wanted so I rejected the deal. I firmly believed at the time that a new deal would be forthcoming and nobody led me to believe otherwise at the time. The deal in January was put on the table by John Hollins but that was the last he dealt in it. To be fair to John, I think his hands were tied by those above him.

PS: And the next deal was put in front of you when?

SR: In April. The second deal was a 30% cut on the first one and, as you can imagine, I was not going to sign that. I was then put on the week to week deal which lasted until the move to Wycombe.

PS: But Mike Lewis stated on Swansea Sound that you were offered a deal that was twice what you were on?

SR: I don’t want to go into that too much but I do want to say that I was unhappy that he said that on the radio. It is not the case and for him to say it was annoyed me.

PS: And then of course, there was the trial at Rotherham in the summer?

SR: I never got the gut feeling that Rotherham was right for me. It just didn’t seem the right thing to do so I came back. I was a bit worried about what kind of reception I would get when I came back but to be fair the fans and my fellow players treated me superbly and I have no complaints on that front.

PS: And Mike Lewis?

SR: He didn’t speak to me. I didn’t speak to him only to say Hello. You could see that he was upset and he must have been banking on that £250,000 for the sale of me. I had to do what I thought was right for me and that was coming back.

PS: Obviously, there was a change of management early in the season, what did Colin Addison say to you?

SR: That he wanted me to stay. Like with John, his hands were tied but he told me that he wanted to hold onto me and I believe he thought that we may be able to sort out a contract?

PS: And then Tony Petty came in?

SR: He spoke to my father before the Rochdale game and told him that I could expect no contract and that he had accepted a bid from Wycombe Wanderers. He said that there would be no contracts for 18 months.

PS: Just for you or did you get the impression that it was for anyone?

SR: Probably for anyone. The wording was no contracts for 18 months. It was clear from the conversation with my father that he was desperate to sell me and we had to go from there.

PS: What did Colin Addison say about this?

SR: He knew nothing of the sale until I phoned him to tell him. He was gutted that they were selling me especially without his knowledge.

PS: People clearly wanted you to stay, and you were at that meeting in the Patti where you were asked three times to stay, what did that mean to you?

SR: I couldn’t sleep that night after the meeting. I went for a meal after the meeting and went home feeling bewildered. I didn’t want to go any more than the fans wanted me to, but there was no contract there and Wycombe had put a good offer to me and I had to consider it. It was a tough time making the decision.

PS: What would it have taken for you to stay?

SR: A contract until the end of the season. You know that I wanted to stay and all I ask for was some form of security that was not coming. I will miss Swansea but I am looking forward to my time at Wycombe.

PS: Were you at the club on what we call ‘Black Wednesday’?

SR: Yes I was, it was a terrible day. I went out with the boys in the afternoon to talk about it and Curt came along and joined us. We couldn’t believe what was happening, it came from nowhere. I will still keep in touch with the lads and I hope that they get through this. I still feel part of Swansea even though I have left and I hope that Petty goes within a short period and the boys can get on with what they do best.

PS: What are your feelings towards Petty?

SR: I have no respect for him. He had nothing to say to me before or after the Rochdale game, just what he had passed through my father and I don’t believe he is a genuine kind of person. He heard the sum of £100,000 in his head and seemed to accept it without a second thought.

PS: Did he put any pressure on you, using your colleagues, to force you into the move?

SR: There was pressure from both clubs. I was aware of the financial situation at Swansea. Petty wanted to sell and with me not able to get a contract I decided to move on.

PS: You’ve only been at Wycombe a few days, have you noticed any marked differences between the two clubs?

SR: It’s hard to say, they are very similar clubs. Wycombe have looked after me since I have got here and that is the one thing that I suppose sticks out in my mind. I was not appreciated by the directors of Swansea City as you have seen by what I told you. I was at the club for six years in total and they were good times.

PS: Who did you look up to at the club?

SR: John and Curt and then more recently Colin and Peter (Nicholas) were all superb. And then there was Nick Cusack who looked after me no end. He is even going to help me look for somewhere to live up here, that is how much he cares. He is a cracking bloke.

PS: As I think Swansea fans have realised in the last few weeks

SR: Without a doubt. The players have always known that but with all that is going on, the fans are beginning to see what he is really like and not just what he does on the pitch. I will always keep in touch with him.

PS: And your biggest mate at the club?

SR: Mumf without a doubt. We had some laughs when we were together. He is coming up to see me as soon as he gets some time off from Swansea. I guess we will catch each other next week at some stage with the Swans playing in Luton. I will miss the contact with him while we are playing.

PS: Any words for the fans?

SR: They have been superb over the years to me and all of them are welcome to see me play at Wycombe whenever they want. I think some are coming next week when we play Swindon which will be nice to see some Welsh flags in the crowd. They are a fantastic bunch Swansea fans and I only hope that the Wycombe fans take to me in the same way. I know it could be a cliché, but I will be back one day, I’ll guarantee them that.

PS: Talking of coming back, how about April for Roger’s Testimonial?

SR: Do you mean that? That would be fantastic and I’ll bit your hand off at that offer. To come back and play in Roger’s game will be an honour for me. I’ll be there.

PS: Back on the pitch for one second. Swansea’s league position isn’t clever, can they get out of it?

SR: Without a doubt. They are quality players and are better then the league position suggests. It’s been tough for them the last couple of weeks and they are only human and the unrest has got to them. Colin Addison is a good manager and he can help pull them through. It’s a long season and they will start moving again soon.

PS: Any final thoughts?

SR: Just that I’ll miss you all and hope to see as many of you as possible when you get a chance. I have certainly found out who my friends are through the last six months or so and I won’t forget those that have supported, encouraged and helped me. I’ll be doing by best for whoever in the future but my heart will always remain with Swansea and I’ll keep in touch.

Stuart Roberts is clearly a Swansea fan first and a professional footballer second. Having spoken to him several times over the last week or so, I know how hard he found it to make up his mind. He should have received his contract when negotiations first opened up but didn’t and it is water under the bridge now. You only had to hear his reaction to being asked to play in Roger’s testimonial to know how much our club means to him.

He is also coming back in January for the race nite and I am sure that he will receive the reception that he deserves. For someone who is only 21, he has a wise head on his shoulders and he has a football talent that is not matched by too many at the moment. I believe that Stuart is destined for the top and the thought of him coming back one day will be as welcome as it was when the likes of Robbie and Curt came back. They too were Swansea City through and through.

You can’t blame Stuart for leaving, he had no contract and did what was right for him and we all wish him the very best at Wycombe. Thanks for the memories Stuart and we look forward to seeing you in that white shirt again.

Stuart Roberts was talking to Phil Sumbler

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Athena Picture Agency and Swansea City Football Club.
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