Bittersweet Memories

Sunday, 8 May 2005, 0:00
4 mins read

Bittersweet Memories

"Bittersweet memories, that’s all I’m taking with me" – Dolly Parton

The reaction to the Swans promotion winning 1-0 result at Bury yesterday has been incredible. Bury fans in particular have claimed hooliganism and demanded points deductions for the Swans or a replay of the game and bemoaned the fact that they could not say thank you to their players at the end of the game.

They have chastised the Swansea support for taking an unfair advantage of the large number of tickets they were given for the game claiming they they offered these out of the goodness of their heart and we took them and then took their hospitality too far.

So here I sit, 24 hours after the game to push forward what happened there in the views of fair and balanced reporting. And to level the score as to what Swansea fans really behaved like yesterday.

But the first thing to make straight is why Bury gave us so many tickets and moved some of their own fans out of their own seats to accommodate us. Money. Plain and simple. Anyone that tells you any different is a liar plain and simple. No football club moves their own fans unless they see the financial benefit. Bury care so much about their ‘passionate’ support that they cast them aside and forced them to exchange tickets for another area of the ground as they knew as a club that a stand full of Swansea supporters was better than a stand scarcely populated by their own. They took further advantage by doubling admission into their social club from £1 to £2 to make some more money. I don’t blame them for this and to an extent I applaud them for taking the initiative and being able to see that 5000 Swansea fans equates to a six figure income – invaluable stuff to a club on the breadline like Bury.

There are things that happened inside the ground during the game that were unacceptable. The pitch invasion after we scored, the pitch invasion before the game. As site owner, I will not condone this events. And if any Bury fan would like to admit they were two events that were condoned by the vast majority of the close on 5,000 travelling support inside the ground. The one eyed posters from Gigg Lane have said that it was the other way around but if you care to look at the evidence you will see that the majority of Swans fans were in the stands at the time of both occasions and the second invasion in particular was accompanied by a sea of noise of "off, off, off" aimed at their fellow supporters. I have also been told that the directors and management encouraged the invasion which naturally will explain why both Lee Trundle and Roberto Martinez were appealing for them to get off the pitch along with physio Richie Evans. To the untrained eye like ours we thought they were saying get off when clearly the number of Bury fans (half of our number) inside the ground were watching them inviting them onto the pitch. Neither of these two invasions should have happened. End of story.

Now the nice people at Bury have informed us that the tannoy announcements continually told us to stay off the pitch. I was in the South Stand all afternoon and despite my best efforts I never heard a single word the announcer said. I strained my ears at half time hoping to hear the scores they wanted to give out.

It has become tradition on almost every football league ground for fans to invade the pitch to celebrate promotion or avoiding relegation and Bury were well aware of this. If they were adamant that there was to be no invasion then you would assume that they would have made moves to stop it? After all there were plenty of police in the ground, plenty of stewards in the ground and if they really wanted to then they could have made an effort. I have read reports of a ball boy being injured and of course that is unacceptable. Having said that, fans of other clubs have pointed out that the invasion was going to happen and their clubs have made moves to remove the ball boys before it happens. Even the Swans do this at the Vetch and we aren’t always the most organised. Not an excuse for what happened but it could have been avoided.

What then happened on the pitch was a celebration. A riot I believe I have seen it called. Five Live, Sky Sports and even some local radio station I listened to around the Stoke area on the way home called it ‘ a celebratory invasion by Swans fans’ A riot tends to suggest that Swans fans were ripping up the pitch, seats and the like – a statement that could not be further from the truth if it was a deliberate attempt to be so. Yes there was an element of trouble,, caused by one police officer who decided he had seen enough of the promotion celebrations. Maybe he was a Southend fan? I don’t know but two separate police officers have now given me their opinion on what happened and said that it could have been dealt with very easily in a manner that would not have caused the problems. And then we have the reports of the innocent being hit outside the ground for what many have said was no real reason.

And all this happened whilst the Bury fans sat there, head in hands, halos shining wondering what us nasty people could do next. Ignorning the Swans fans who found their cars attacked by eggs being thrown as they left the nice friendly city of Bury.

Yesterday’s after match situation could have gone down as a celebration and the Jacks would have gone home happy. If Bury fans want to look any further then look at the PC who has been condemned by his own colleagues in the force. Think before you do is a good motto and I wonder if he feels he could have handled it differently yesterday?

As I said I will not excuse pitch invasions during the match but as for the one after the match finished then all I can say to Bury fans is get over it. It happens, welcome your team out in the first match next season. Maybe just after they have read all your names out to the players – it’s quicker that way.

I’ve never had anything much against Bury until today. What I find sadder is fans of other clubs jumping on the bandwagon and believing just one side of the story. There were things that happened that were wrong but, just as happened at Lincoln, neither side is completely free from blame. Not that you would believe that.

Still, what was Bury’s ‘problem’ yesterday becomes the problem of the likes of Huddersfield, Nottingham Forest and Doncaster next season as the Swans look forward to life in league one and Bury can contemplate the nice friendly 48 away fans that arrive from Torquay United instead. Just hope it’s not last day of the season!

And as for the comment title. Sweet memories for me. Bitter for some others.

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