Swansea City - A Week in History

This Week In History - Swansea’s First European Fixture

In October 1961, Swansea faced Motor Jena to become the first side to represent Wales on the European stage. Following a 3-1 victory in the Welsh Cup final, Swansea Town were entered into the European Cup Winners Cup. The Cup Winners Cup was a new tournament at this point, having only been founded in 1960. Originally, Welsh clubs weren’t entered into the Cup Winners Cup, meaning Wrexham missed out on the inaugural competition.

In 1961, the Cup Winners Cup was officially expanded from 10 teams to 23 teams. Due to Swansea’s Welsh Cup win the previous season, they were offered the chance to enter European competition for the first time. Swansea, of course, accepted the offer and started preparing Vetch Field for the European visitors. The Swans were drawn against Motor Jena, the winners of the East German Cup. The German side finished 8th in the East German League, but managed to defeat Empor Rostock to win the East German Cup and qualify for Europe. There were to be some complications to the draw however, as the UK government refused to grant visas to the Motor Jena squad. The match would have to be played outside of the UK, meaning that Welsh football fans would have to wait a bit longer to see European action in their country.

Swansea City 2-2 Motor Jena - October 16th 1961

The match was eventually rearranged for October 16th, and would be played in a neutral venue in Austria. The Linzer Stadion was the new venue for match, just over 1000 miles away from Swansea. With such a distance between the grounds, it was actually easier access for the German fans, with just 320 miles separating Jena and Linz.

Swansea had played just 2 days prior to the fixture, giving them little time to settle in before playing. This was perhaps reflected in their performance as the Swans fell behind early on, Dieter Lange scoring after 14 minutes for Motor Jena. Swansea quickly pulled one back however, just 2 minutes later through striker Brayley Reynolds. The Swans would fall behind again however before the break, as winger Roland Ducke put the ‘away side’ back in front.

The second half was less frantic, however a 70th minute penalty appeared to spark the game back into life. Swans midfielder Mel Nurse easily dispatched the spot kick, however Colin Webster was sent off just minutes later. Motor Jena failed to make the most of their 1 man advantage and the game finished 2-2.

Swansea City’s European Record

Swansea went on to lose the return leg 5-1 in Jena, knocking them out of the competition at the earliest point. The Swans entered the Cup Winners Cup another 6 times before the competition was abolished. The highlight of their Cup Winners Cup campaigns came in the 1982-83 season, as Swansea reached the second round. A 2 legged win against Braga was followed up with a 12-0 record win against Sliema Wanderers in the first round. A second round matchup against PSG proved to be a step too far, but the run proved that Swansea wouldn’t become European whipping boys.

The Swans would have to wait 23 years for European action after their 1991/92 Cup Winners Cup campaign. After Swansea League Cup success in 2013, they qualified for the following season’s Europa League. Easily dispatching Malmo and Petrolul Ploiesti in the qualifying rounds, Swansea made the group stage. Eventually finishing 2nd in the group, a 3-0 victory over Valencia at the Mestalla was a high point in Swansea’s recent history. They couldn’t get past a Rafa Benitez led Napoli, but no Swans fan can look back on their Europa League run with a negative view.

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