Swansea's Beautiful Game Puts Huge Smile on Its City; FOOTBALL CLUB ON BRINK OF Pounds 90M PREMIER LEAGUE DREAM

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 18, 2011 | Go to article overview

Swansea's Beautiful Game Puts Huge Smile on Its City; FOOTBALL CLUB ON BRINK OF Pounds 90M PREMIER LEAGUE DREAM


Byline: ROBIN TURNER

SWANSEA has "got a big smile on its face" now the city's highflying Swans are just one game away from Premier League football.

That is the view of prominent Swansea City fans still recovering after the club's nervejangling 3-1 victory over Nottingham Forest in the play-off semi-final second leg at the Liberty Stadium on Monday night.

Top-class first half goals from Leon Britton and Stephen Dobbie were met with a strike by ex-Cardiff City talisman Rob Earnshaw for Forest, but the win was clinched with a 50-yard punt from Swansea's Darren Pratley.

It assured the club - formed 99 years ago - a place in the May 30 play-off final at Wembley.

A move into the world's richest football league would bring the club, which nearly went out of business nine years ago, an estimated pounds 90m.

And the arrival of the likes of Manchester Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal would send season ticket sales soaring.

Singer-songwriter, broadcaster and Swansea City vice president Mal Pope said: "News of Monday night's win has been reported on Fox News in the USA and in places from Brazil to Kuala Lumpur.

"There is no doubt if Swansea gets into the Premier League it will give the place a massive profile.

"And it is not only the fact Swansea could be going up which is being reported.

"It is the quality of the football, the quality of the way the club is being managed and the fact that people here do things with a smile on their faces.

"That is a tremendously important message and not only that, Monday night was some game and some advert for Swansea.

"The city has got a smile on its face and that smile could get a whole lot bigger if we win the final."

Swansea East MP Sian James added: "I'm absolutely delighted and the result has been a vindication of the decision to spend pounds 27m on building the Liberty Stadium, which the club moved into in 2005.

"Even if the club does not make it to the Premier League next season, the style with which it has graced the Championship has already been noticed."

Cultural historian and broadcaster Peter Stead, founder of Swansea's Dylan Thomas Prize, said the play-off win was the "best football game" he had ever seen.

He said: "The Swans were absolutely brilliant, outstanding even in the first half, while the second half belonged to Forest who hit the bar and the post and did everything other than score.

"But the final 50-yard goal from Darren Pratley was breathtaking with everyone forgetting the Forest goalkeeper had gone up for a corner.

"We all thought his effort was an aimless kick into the opponent's half until it bounced into an empty goal - then we realised what a fantastic goal it really was. What a finish.

"This has given Swansea a massive lift and if the club gets into the Premier League it will give the city the shot in the arm it needs and deserves.

"The way Swansea won deserves a mention too. They play beautiful football, there is a real Swansea identity about the way the team are playing.

"And Brendan Rodgers is a tremendous manager and a smashing chap. The whole thing is very wholesome."

And Swansea council leader Chris Holley added yesterday: "It is amazing what we are seeing from just a few years ago." He was referring to 2001 when the club was sold for pounds 1. …

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