In days of Tiger Chat yore, I would imagine that the assignation of ‘The Swansea Report’ was not one fought over by your intrepid team of match reporters. Times have changed from those Vetch ventures of violence and vitriol and as a soon-to-have-too-much-time-on-his-hands Lancashire bloke respectfully pointed out prior to proceedings, “they even let girls do it now”. Said girl has, mind you, endured over 15 hours of Transport for Wales ‘luxury’ and TransPennine Express cancellations, without so much as a loaf of bread under her arm to deter random attacks from the locals. The Heddlu have so little to do on the hooligan front these days, that they have taken to stalking out Welsh Spars post-match to intercept 15 year old scallies with 6 packs of Carling and pin them forcefully to the grass on the central reservation outside the Liberty, presumably as entertainment for the queue at the bus stop.
Anyway. The football. Sam Clucas is not Gylfi Sigurdsson. Seems an obvious enough statement as those of us who rely on the Icelandic FPL points magnet will testify to, however, a pre-match chat with a couple of Swansea fans over a plastic glass full of warm rosé under a Frankie & Benny’s gazebo answered a long-mused question as to why our earnest ginger Lincs link man was not held in the same acclaim in these valleys as he was on the banks of the Humber. The Swans cleared this up in no uncertain terms; he was sold to them as the new Gylfi Sig, the new messiah. Except he wasn’t and so, as is the fate of many a naughty boy before him, he was unceremoniously dispatched to Stoke. They seemed particularly aggrieved that all three of the goals he scored in the Jack white were against Arsenal, as if he really couldn’t be bothered to put any effort in against any other opponent. I couldn’t help musing that three goals against Arsenal in Tiger stripes would have made him an instant hero, but simply assured them that their winning home run didn’t seem in much peril this afternoon and wished them well in their pursuit of FLD. Nobody was more surprised than the giddy City contingent when this did not come to pass and in fact the Swans’ play-off dreams were left in tatters, definitively nailed to their perch.
Having remembered at 15.03 that I was supposed to be writing a report, a hurried check of the match preview revealed that our Tiger lads were lining up thus:
Lichaj McKenzie de Wijs
Irvine Batty Stewart Henriksen Kingsley
Quite frankly, more formless than a formless formless thing. A series of informed guesses amongst the away support ranged from a 5-5-0 to a 7-1-2 including the astute observation that if Henriksen plays any deeper this season, he will actually have to make a start between the sticks. Of course, we have no need for that as we have Agent Blade Long in there for the foreseeable future and I for one am relishing the prospect of his appearance at Elland Road next season once the conspiracy theorists’ appeal to the EFL has failed. After all, you can rely on the EFL to uphold standards of righteousness and good sense can’t you? O. Wait. What’s that? City have been awarded a silver medal for excellence in family engagement? Don’t be daft. The KCom nowadays has an air of Baron Bombast’s Vulgarian Castle. Full of toys and balloons but with no actual children to play with them.
In contrast the Liberty scoreboard proudly informs us that the waiting list for 2019-20 Season Ticket applications is now open. A WAITING LIST. For season passes. In a stadium a similar size to ours, in the same league, in a city with 100,000 fewer inhabitants. Astonishing stuff. I do hope our marketing team identified the error of their failed ticketing model ways to them before heading for the M5 with a point in a bag marked ‘Loot’.
Swansea started with a spark in their step and an organised intention and purposeful ambition that we looked like we had long since stopped dreaming about. Their number 12, who turned out to be tricky winger Nathan Dyer had a very tricky winger air about him and of course, Daniel James, formerly of this parish, or at least that of Beverley, maybe still has a point to prove to his former paymasters. It seemed that a couple of our Tiger lads may have had a point or two to prove back to him, as after a promising opening, he seemed to shrink back into his shell a little following one or two tasty nibbles at his feet by City youth products Batty and McKenzie. McKenzie.
Kamil Grosicki could be forgiven for deserting his purposeful ambition recently on account of his impending departure to *insert second tier European side here* this summer. As we await the much-vaunted Hull City AFC Supporters’ Survey ( Club Really Annoys People 2019 Edition) my mind drifted to a few alternative questions we could be presented with to take our attention off the matters that actually, you know, matter. Question 1) You are a Polish international hugging the touch line at the Liberty Stadium when the ball floats over in your general direction – do you a) chase it down determinedly? b) ‘phone your agent? c) shrug your shoulders and walk the other way?
On seven minutes the likely outcome and pattern for the afternoon on this matter became clear and when Irvine shot high, right and decidedly not very handsome five minutes later, the Swans’ late play-off surge looked very much ON. Comment was passed around me that they were ‘getting behind us too easy‘ and by the time ex-Swan Kingsley had planted a tackle on current and still tricky Swan Dyer, who managed to get a cross in regardless, it seemed more than likely that the valleys would be in full voice come 5pm. Fortunately, in a week which deprived us of one of our finest defenders to wear the black and amber, the Dutch half of our central pairing stepped in to intercept a goal bound shot on 24’ and was not left to his own devices. McKenzie.
Agent Long played his part in neutralising the ensuing corner and considering he’s only been given a starting berth at City to sabotage West Yorkshire promotion pushes, he had an accomplished and confident-looking attitude throughout the match. Breaking wind news to my left revealed a drop in speeds to a mere 44mph per gust which seemed to bode well for City’s first corner of the match on 26’ but Grosicki failed miserably to keep his high balls low and as is so often the way, we managed to immediately turn attack into defence and the Swans won a corner ball of their own which George the Blade handled cleanly.
At this stage Grosicki presented option d) to question 1), namely ‘pull out of the challenge and claim an entirely spurious handball’ and on the half hour mark, after McBurnie had contrived to take a shot which ended up behind him, the bright lights and delights of scoreboard sponsors Castle Bingo seemed a fairly attractive alternative to the football fare on offer. McKenzie.
And then the inevitable happened. Bastard goal music. And not just one cheery ditty. O no, a veritable medley of over-enthusiastic and unnecessary banged out tunes to enhance the wholly over-enthusiastic and unnecessary drum-banging we had already been subjected to. In fact one would have been forgiven for thinking that not only had Swansea City AFC reached the Championship play-offs, but had also kicked West Yorkshire arse so comprehensively in the Wembley final that Bielsa’s Boys had pleaded for mercy and an instant relegation to League One. Had New Year style fireworks shot into the encroaching Welsh gloom and a couple of monster trucks pre-empted the lap of honour, it would have hardly been a surprise. McBurnie scored by the way. Once again an attempted City attack thwarted as Irvine’s through ball found Grosicki offside and the next thing you know, Routledge has put the ball on a plate for the Scottish former Leeds youth player, added a garnish and a twist of pepper and Swansea are suddenly cooking, presumably in conjunction with the Energy Check Family Stand which is bouncing with actual families being charged £12.50 a head. To the utter credit of the Mexican-themed travelling support the constant rendition of the Tequila song just intensified the longer the game went on and young Robbie must have been bursting with pride even by half time to hear his name chanted so faithfully for so long. Well played Tiger Nation, well played. McKenzie.
We perked up a bit after the goal, no, really, we did. Kevin Stewart even had a shot on target. They were winning more free kicks than us, prompting repeated disgruntled cries of “The ref’s giving us nowt” from part of the formation dance trio to my left but in all honesty nowt was pretty much what we deserved as we sloped off towards the interval refreshments. And don’t even get me started on the practice of pouring soft drinks from plastic bottles into plastic glasses so that you can kick your Coke Zero over and instantly waste £3 before you’ve had chance to consume any of its zero calories…
Kingsley’s final action a) of the half? b) of the season? c) ever? had seen him momentarily lose sight of the fact he was now tigery, not swany, and pass the ball usefully backwards to netminder Nordfeldt. Nigel duly replaced him with Brandon Fleming who has all the attributes of being a mainstay in next season’s team, that is to say, he is young, cheap and puts in decent performances, which he duly did. The half-time assessment in the stands ranged from a desire to see us “more dominant in attack” to being “a little less shit”. In truth, we were both, eventually. McKenzie.
On 50’ the a) dream b) deadly c) doomed duo of Bowen and Grosicki combined dreamily with a deadly ball put through by Jarrod for Kamil to punish. He didn’t. Irvine got in on the act with more non-devastating finishing and Captain Markus showed his frustration by hammering into McBurnie and picked up the first of 4 City yellow cards. He obviously didn’t hammer him anywhere near sufficiently hard enough though as following a niggly period of fouls, substitutions and a random helicopter fly-past, Swansea and McBurnie made it 2-0. Game over? McKenzie.
I did wonder whether the helicopter was due to be part of the next Goal Celebration Extravaganza and had just chipped up a bit early but despite now having an actual striker on the pitch in the shape of Dicko (Do widzenia Kamil), the mood of inevitable surrender blackened to complement Storm Hannah’s sky. But wait! On 69’ Swansea took a comically hit corner that went out for a throw-in on the far side and the realisation dawned that the screw that they could and should be turning on us, was coming loose. Hurrah, enter Jon Toral! Not quite the swash or the buckle of a Spanish matador but a fine footballer nonetheless and we genuinely started to swash rather than buckle. We had corners, we had shots and then on 77’ we had an actual, proper, only slightly offside goal as Bowen slotted home a De Wijs finely-weighted header. The crowd went wild as the virtual Tequila flowed. McKenzie!
George Bramhall Long reminded us of his bravery under pressure, saving at Routledge’s feet, but City weren’t done yet. Irvine rose superbly to win the first header he had won all afternoon, knocked the ball down for a perfectly placed cross and a close range equaliser. Toral to Dicko – gamechangers. The beat went on…MCKENZIE!
We had six minutes plus five to see out this unlikely state of parity but see it out in fine voice we did. A very late Swansea corner left Dan Batty in a heap on their goal line but the team that had a habit of losing two-goal leads this season had reversed the trend and snatched a point from under Welsh noses.
A final word, if I may, for that finest of defenders, men and City Hall of Fame heroes, who died so heartbreakingly on 23rd April – Peter Skipper. On page 55 of Rich Gardham’s superb tome ‘The Decade – Ten Years that Transformed Hull City AFC’, Captain Skipper describes his feelings at the end of his City career in 1988. “I had a few tears in my eyes when I left.” Believe us, many of us had more than a few tears in our eyes when you left us last week Skip, RIP.
Kate Ogram (via Tiger Chat)