A Week In History - Swansea’s First Ever Game
The Formation of Swansea Town
It’s just over 100 years since Swansea City played their first ever professional game at the legendary Vetch Field. Back then, the Swans were known as Swansea Town and were playing in the Southern League Division Two, against teams including Newport, Southend and bitter rivals Cardiff.
Swansea Town was officially formed in the summer of 1912. At the time, Swansea was a predominantly rugby focused town, but new club chairman J.W. Thorpe wanted to change that. A meeting was held in the Royal Hotel on Swansea High Street in June 1912 to officially form the club. Meetings had already been held, with local football fans calling out for a club nearly 6 months prior to the official founding.
Swansea joined the Southern League Division Two ahead of the 1912/13 as one of 4 new teams, following the departure of Walsall, Kettering, Cwm Albion and Chesham Town. Walter Whittaker was hired as the club’s first manager for the season, with the ex-Brentford goalkeeper also playing for the Swans during the season. Whittaker led his squad to a 3rd place finish in their first season, as well as winning the Welsh Cup. Forwards Billy Ball and Bob Grierson led the line for the team, scoring 8 goals apiece in the debut season. Willie Messer was the only player who was representing his hometown team, signing for the club after a trial match during the summer. The squad as a whole was experienced, with players being brought in from the top 2 divisions in England.
Swansea Town 1-1 Cardiff City - 7th Septemeber 1912
The game against Cardiff on 7th September was Swansea Town’s first true test after a summer of trial matches. Cardiff had already been formed 10 years earlier than Swansea so could boast a little more professional experience coming into the match. Over 8,000 supporters turned up for the match, with rival fans from Llanelli even turning up as their team was playing away that week. An 8,000 strong crowd exceeded all expectations of the Swansea hierarchy, with gate receipts coming in at £153. 2,000 fans even turned up to Swansea’s final training session before the game as excitement started to grow throughout the town.
The game began with an intensity that saw Cardiff reduced to 10 men after just 10 minutes. Cardiff right-back Crofts was injured and forced off, with no substitution law to allow him to be replaced. This provided the perfect platform for Swansea to push forward for their first ever league goal. Coleman’s initial shot was saved by Cardiff keeper Kneeshaw before Billy Ball hit the rebound into an empty net. Swansea Town had managed a first league goal after just 20 minutes of action. The crowd cheered on their new team, despite pockets of supporters still struggling to understand the rules of this new sport.
Cardiff managed an equaliser with 10 men, Jack Burton scoring past player-manager Whittaker in goal. As the game came to a close, both teams pushed for the winning goal in the first South Wales Derby. Swansea hit the post 3 times and continued to be denied by Cardiff’s Kneeshaw. The match was generally well received in Swansea. Local papers’ reported that the match was a success and predicted that football would provide a strong opposition to rugby as the main sport in Swansea.
Swansea City at Bet UK
Bet UK will be revisiting important moments in Swansea’s history throughout the season in our new ‘This Week In History’. Get the latest Swansea City news and updates this year at Bet UK sports betting blog.
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