A swans eleven focusing on our Hull heroics. We get the best eleven from Mr James Thomas.
Obviously Cuter came in for the last few games, for the last month something like that. You can’t discount the part Rodge played as well, Rodge was a good friend of mine a roommate. You could not underestimate what he done for the club in the how ever many seasons he was there before. I think he’s been forgotten about a bit really. He left the club on quite bad terms. I know he didn’t play the Hull game but his contribution over the years was massive. He was a cracking keeper as everyone knows; a cracking bloke as well, he was a great character to have around the dressing room for all the lads to know as well.
Do you think he made all the players realise just how important it was that we won the Hull game?
Yes I think so, I think a lot of people where aware of that anyway but the type of character that Rodge was, he would make it light hearted and make you feel at ease with it so you sort of forget about the pressure that was on at the time and that helps really to take your mind off the pressure that was on that day.
Michael Howard at left back, again similar to Rodger cracking servant to the club over the years, I think he made about 400 odd appearances for the club. He was Mr. consistent, often overlooked for the contributions he would make in games and I know in the Hull game he was at fault for one of the goals but credit to him he bounced back and played the rest of the game well. He brought plenty of experience to that side and again another player who had been at the swans for years. I think he helped with one of the crosses and helped get the job done and obviously stay up.
Do you think he is someone who would have dwelled on his mistake or would he of forgotten about it straight away during the game?
I think he is the type of person who would of forgotten about it straight away like I say he’s had plenty of games and experience and I think the type of character that he was he would of found it easy to put it to the back of his mind and get on with the game.
I am going to go with Jenks, lovely guy top man. A bag of nerves though, a bag of nerves at all times. The type of character who let the nerves get to him. I think he was one of those on the final day who was a bag of nerves and obviously he made one of the mistakes as well for one of the goals but the opposite to Michael Howard he was the kind of person who would let a mistake get him down and affect him for the rest of the game but I think the situation we were in and the type of character he was with the pressure, like Michael Howard he done well the rest of the game and did not let it affect him too much.
We have to go with Alan Tate for one of them, a cracking signing by Bryan Flynn along with Leon Britton and Roberto as well, not much first team experience with him really when he came from Man Utd with high expectations and a good reputation. He was key as well as with the other signings that the manager had made, a real key part to the swans staying up really, the last dozen games or whatever it was to stay up. He was a calming influence on the ball, he rarely give the ball away. He was a good passer of the ball who kept us ticking over at the back really by not given the ball away to much.
Obviously you are a Swansea boy and you come on loan from Blackburn who was in the premiership at the time, were you surprised at some of the quality in the side with Roberto and Tatey and Leon etc at the club?
Yeah I think I was a bit, with Tatey and Leon especially; it was a bit like when I was at Blackburn, neither player had much first team experience really. But to come down the season they did when there was so much pressure on the club, especially towards the end and to cope with that pressure and perform like they did on the pitch. Especially on some of the pitches we played on and they would be used to playing on pitches that were like carpets and to come down and adapt to some of the conditions they had to put up with they done superbly to be fair.
Kris O’Leary, I think him and Alan Tate complemented each other well I think, Alan had a bit more class on the ball while Kris Was a bit more of a dog and would get stuck in. O’Leary was the battler who would get stuck in with 100% commitment and you always need a player like that, he done well for us.
We will start with Martinez in midfield, you don’t have to say much about him really, he was probably the best signing of the three of them that came in, I think he was the leader of the team. He was a professional person really, he came in and changed the attitude with everyone, the character he was, he was always going to go on to manage. On top of that he had great talent as well; He was a great passer of the ball great player with great vision.
I will put Britton in there obviously, another superb signing from Bryan Flynn. You could see the quality of him as soon as he came in, the only question at the time really was his size and if he could cope with league2 but he did get stuck in though, he won the penalty for us the Hull game and I don’t think he has ever had a bad game for the swans, 13 years on I still don’t think he has had a bad game really but another great signing by Bryan Flynn.
Britton obviously has come up through the divisions with the Swans, do you think he is someone who should have had an England call up at some point in the last few years?
Yeah I would say so, I think he deserves it. He never has a bad game, he hardly ever gives the ball away, he keeps the ball ticking over, I think since the first season when he came down to us in 2003 he’s just progressed every year and got better and better, it would have been nice for him to have a call up to cap it all off but you never know he still has a bit of time left but I think a year or two ago was his time and he deserved to get his chance but unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be.
He played the Hull game, he was a bugger Lenny Johnrose, he would never turn up for training and if he did he was late, he would go back home after a game and he would not be in until the next game and you thought oh god who is this person. But when he did play for us he was a cracking holding midfielder. A bit like Kris O’Leary really, he used to get around the pitch and get stuck in, break up play and chip in with the odd goal here and there as he did in the Hull game, people tend to forget he scored a goal as well and that was an important goal.
We will go with Coatsey, he’s my mate as well and obviously a Swansea boy. Fair play to him, having been released from the club and being asked to come back and doing so in such a professional manner, he never lost his head. He was ready to go, he came in the first team there was no bitterness or anything he kept his head up high and being a Swansea boy as well he wore his heart on his sleeve, so credit to him really. He could have come back and been bitter but there was none of that.
Kevin Nugent he played that game, he was the type of player most centre forwards enjoyed playing alongside, he would get stuck in and hold the ball up well and you could make the runs off him. Although his legs had gone a little when he came to us, what he lacked in his legs he made up for In other departments, he was a cool head a good target man and I think in the situation we were in it was key to have a man like that up top, to keep the ball ticking over like he did.
What was it like getting an ex Cardiff player up for that season?
I didn’t really think much of it at the time really and I think all the fans took to him ok as well, I don’t think he got too much stick but he was an old head who had seen it all before so I don’t think he would let that affect him to much anyway.
Like I said I am not going to go for myself, I am going to go for a player who probably scored one of the most important goals that season apart from the final day and that was the game before the Hull game which was Rochdale away and we had him on loan as well. I will go for Mark Richards, he was a good player who I had played with at Blackburn so I knew what he was capable of and he came down and scored some important goals but that goal one he scored meant going in to the Hull game it was in our hands which I think made a massive difference, if we went in relying on other results it could have been a different story, so that goal was massive.
How much credit do you think has to go to Flynn in signing the players we have talked about? that played a massive part in keeping us up?
You can’t underestimate how important he was really, every player he brought in had a bit of quality about them. A couple of them were risks, players who had not had much first team experience like I mentioned earlier but they adjusted to first team football really well and they came and done the job so obviously he has to take a lot of credit.
When was the last time you had to buy a pint in Swansea?
Ha ha the last time I was out in Swansea, I did not have to put my hand in the pocket after the hull game though put it that way.
I remember the last goal against Hull, the lob when you went in on goal and you shot and all the north bank just stopped, I was thinking take a touch, you had plenty of time. What were you thinking when you hit that first time?
I don’t think I thought about anything, I think it was one of them things because I had already scored two and we were winning at the time, I was full of confidence. When you’re confident you don’t tend to dwell on things or worry about things you just do the first thing that comes to your head. I was in that mind set where I didn’t really think about it I was in that mind set to just do the first thing that came in to my head and luckily for me it paid off because I could probably do that another ten times and shank all of them. It was just lucky it worked out right and to see the ball hit the corner like that, it was just relief really, I think probably all the players and the supporters felt the same way really that as soon as that hit the net the game was over. Hull City were on their holidays on the beach and I think everyone could enjoy the game then for the first time.
You’re in the ambulance service now, how is that going?
Yeah, it is good, I am an emergency service technician in the ambulance service now, it’s going good. Don’t get me wrong when I was playing football I never thought I would be driving ambulances and going to people with heart attacks and rushing people in to hospitals and stuff like that but that’s the way it has gone for me really, I had my career taken away from me by injury and as a young lad you don’t expect that and it’s hard to prepare for really. It was the same for me, I did not know what to do really, all I had known was football since I left school when I was 16 but I was not the first and I won’t be the last, you just have to get on with it really so I found myself in the ambulance service.
Do you get down to see the swans at all now?
With working weekends and stuff I don’t get a chance really, the first couple of years in the premiership I did not miss a game down there, I saw them all but with work now it’s difficult. Obviously I look out for their results but getting down now is few and far between really.
A massive thanks to James Thomas for speaking to us. Great bloke, you hear nothing but good words about him. Cheers!!