The day the Premier League welcomed a Welsh team for the first time

Thursday, 30 May 2024, 9:29
2
3 mins read

The date of 30 May 2011 will long be etched on the memories of Swansea City supporters.  In the same way that May 2 1981, May 3 2003 and others are as well this was the day that the Premier League received its first and now most successful Premier League team.   The day that we turned Wembley black and white.

For many Swans fans the dream of the Premier League had always been a distant one.  It was only eight years after we had to secure a win over Hull on the last day of the season to secure football league status but it was the next step on a remarkable rise that simply still does not get talked about in wider football circles.   A team had gone from crowds of marginally over 2000 to the biggest stage that English football offers in less than a generation.

Ironically the scoreline of 4-2 that kept us in the football league was the one that took us to the top division and Scott Sinclair scored a hat-trick just as James Thomas had eight years earlier.  Two penalties in each trio of goals from the top scorers of that season.  The similarities were incredible, the rewards massively different as Swansea won the game that was potentially completely to change the face of the club for ever.

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As management, players and directors celebrated on the Wembley turf the fans in the stands started to plan their trips to Old Trafford, Anfield and the Emirates and it was broadly the moment that I made a pledge to myself to watch every single game the following season, you never actually knew at that point in time just how long it was going to last.

We know now that of course that journey in the top flight was to last seven years.   Not just seven years though of struggle, a seven year period that included a League Cup win, a European journey that took us to the last 32 of the Europa League and wins over just about everyone in front of us at some stage.   Arsenal and Man Utd were both beaten twice in a season that saw us take our highest finish of eighth place and the Swans were certainly there to enjoy their Premier League journey.  At least in the early years anyway.

Over time, the inspired transfer decisions that saw Michu and Pablo Hernandez arrive for what seemed like pennies were replaced by the likes of Sam Clucas and Andre Ayew (second time around) for what was certainly nowhere near pennies and it was no real surprise that the demise of our Premier League time came to an end with a whimper as home defeats to Southampton and Stoke put pay to us in 2018,  Seven years, two hundred and sixty six matches and an endless supply of memories to last forever.   The end of the Swansea City Premier League dream that, for now at least, seems a million miles away from being repeated.

Back to that day that started it all at Wembley though.   Scott Sinclair scored twice in the blink of an eye in the first half whilst Stephen Dobbie added a third as the fans rang out with a minutes applause for Dobbie’s best friend Besian Idrizaj who had passed away a little over twelve months earlier.  Swans fans were in a daze at half time with a three goal lead but we knew Swansea City inside out and the game was far from over.   We were more than capable of shattering that dream.  Reading scored once, then twice.   As I tried to calm my eight year old daughter down who was crying that we were going to lose, deep down I wanted to hide behind the seat and not watch any more.  The pain of defeat on that day would have been too much to bear.

We all remember the Garry Monk block as Reading looked almost certain to level out the game and the main point of panic had been passed.   The rest of the game was not easy, the nerves were shot but by the time Scotty hit the crucial penalty in the last ten minutes the party was starting.  The Premier League had invited its first Welsh guest to its top table.   Swansea City were on a trajectory that no previous top flight appearance by any Welsh club had matched before.

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The first game, three months later saw us at the Ethiad Stadium – home of the future champions of that season – and whilst the result showed a 4-0 defeat, Swansea were far from outclassed and there was a belief even leaving the stadium that evening that we could be OK before the season ended.   That was proven, and indeed, we could have spoiled the Man City party when we beat them at the Liberty before the season ended but by that time we had already beaten Arsenal and come away from Liverpool with a proud point that made many pundits sit up and take note.   Swansea City were Premier League and deserved to be.

So, on the anniversary of the day we reached the Premier League, think back to your own memories of the Premier League journey we went on and be grateful that you were part of that dream and story.   After all we remain the only Welsh Club to have held and retained a Premier League status for more than one season.   Nobody will ever take away that part of our history.

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

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R
Ringwood

First Team Player

368 messages 60 likes

It's a tough choice which was the better...Preston 81 or Wembley playoff 2011

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3
3swan

Lee Trundle

1,657 messages 42 likes

It is a difficult call as they are differing times.

I fall just on the side of Preston 81. It was the first time and coming back on the M6 and seeing the signs for Manchester and Liverpool the realisation that we would be playing there the following season.

As much as Wembley was a great game, maybe it was more of how many home grown players did it in 81.

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Phil Sumbler

Been watching the Swans since the very late 1970s and running the Planet Swans website (in all its current and previous guises since the summer of 2001 As it stood JackArmy.net was right at the forefront of some of the activity against Tony Petty back in 2001, breaking many of the stories of the day as fans stood against the actions where the local media failed. Was involved with the Swans Supporters Trust from 2005, for the large part as Chairman before standing down in the summer of 2020.

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