A brief history of Swansea City

July 5, 2012
By Rob Smyth

Swansea crest
GettyImages

Formed: 1912
Former names: Swansea Town
Admitted to Football League: 1921
Second Division: 2
Third Division: 4

Swansea City are the first Welsh side to play in the English Premier League. They were also the last to play in the old Division One: they spent two years there between 1981 and 1983 as part of an astonishing ascent and descent through the Football League.

The club was founded in 1912, and were originally known as Swansea Town. They sensationally beat the English champions, Blackburn, with nine men in the FA Cup of 1914-15, and were founder members of Division Three of the Football League in 1920. Swansea were promoted to Division Two in 1926, where they spent all bar two of the next 39 years.

Despite not playing in the top division, Swansea provided four of the Wales squad that reached the quarter-finals of the 1958 World Cup - including the legendary Ivor Allchurch, the club's all-time top scorer with 164 in two spells.

Allchurch played his last game for the club in 1968, and by then Swansea were in the midst of a hideous spell. They were relegated to the old Division Four in 1967 and 1973, and stayed there until 1978. Then the appointment of John Toshack as manager catalysed an astonishing, unprecedented nine-year period in which Swansea went all the way to the top of the mountain and back down again.

It was all eerily symmetrical. Swansea managed consecutive promotions and then a third two years later, which took them into the top flight for the first time in their history. They marked it in style, spanking Leeds 5-1 on the opening day of the 1981-82 season. Arguably the most famous opening-day result in the history of the English game occurred in Wales. Swansea challenged for the title for much of the season, and were top in late March, before eventually finishing sixth.

Swansea entered the Cup Winners' Cup the following season, reward for one of their 10 Welsh Cup wins, and set a new club record by thrashing Sliema Wanderers of Malta 12-0 at the Vetch Field. In the same season, reality bit at domestic level. Indeed Swansea were relegated in each of the next two seasons, failing to win a single away game in either. Then, after a two-year stop-off in Division Three, another relegation meant they were back in Division Four.

Swansea stayed in the bottom two divisions for the next 24 years. That at least allowed them the chance to win the Football League Trophy in 1994 and 2006. They also moved from the Vetch Field to the Liberty Stadium, yet perhaps the most important development in Swansea's modern history came in 2007, with the appointment of Roberto Martinez as manager.

As well as making Swansea one of the most aesthetic teams in the country, Martinez got them promoted to the Championship in 2008. When he left, the quality of football was maintained by Paulo Sousa and then Brendan Rodgers. In 2011, Rodgers' side trounced Reading 4-2 in the play-off final to go back to the top flight for the first time in nearly 30 years and impressed so much in their first season that they lost their manager to Liverpool.