A fantastic hot day unfortunately brought a poor and dull match in the last-ever game to be played at the infamous Vetch Field, watched by 11,469 people. The famous ground, which has seen such legends as Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish, Sir Matt Busby and a whole array of the game’s famous sons is replaced next season by the wonderful out-of-city White Rock Stadium, although it appears unlikely that the £30m arena will keep the same fervour that the North Bank generates at every home game.
The wonderful “Bank” and its amazing support brightened up a day in which actual sporting activities were somewhat lacking. Although the anti-English and anti-Cardiff chants should be frowned upon, the North Bank will be sadly missed by all who live in and around the “ugly pretty city”.
Prior to the game, legendary Welsh comedian Max Boyce led the crowd in the singing of the national anthem, following a comic marriage between the home team’s two mascots. Shrewsbury Town were simply turning up for the day for this game, already having secured League football next year, whereas Swansea City were aiming for the automatic promotion places with a win, not to mention a win for the memory of the old ground.
The game started with an unbelievable roar from the Swansea faithful on what was a big day for them, and the cheer that reverberated around the ground on the eight minute mark must surely have shaken the Gower Peninsula. £100,000 signing Kevin McLeod picked the ball up on the left hand side and produced an excellent through ball for Adrian Forbes who showed great composure to loft the ball over the keeper and, after what seemed an age as the crowd held their breath, fell wonderfully in to the bottom corner. Cue eruptions of delight from all four sides of the ground.
A great start that promised an afternoon goal glut that was unfortunately not lived up to. The game from there on remained dull and un inventive. Swansea were relatively poor with even the normally great Lee Trundle having a quiet game, “Magic Daps” man marked out of the game bt a Shrewsbury defence on top of their game. Shrewsbury were having a great first half, three wonderful chances all saved by the City keeper Willy Gueret, the big Frenchman having a brilliant first half, all three saves enough for him to secure the man-of-the-match award.
Swansea right-back Andy Gurney had a nightmare and was unsurprisingly replaced at half time by the eager Kevin Austin, with new Welsh international Sam Ricketts reverting to his familiar right back position. The half time team talk was of no use, manager Kenny Jackett obviously angry at the sight of his team with no fight in them as Shrewsbury continuously pushed for an equaliser, with livewire Luke Rodgers on top form. A Shrews header right at the death was disappointingly headed straight into the grateful arms of Gueret, who clutched onto it with relief.
Two minutes into injury time came the comic plea from the announcer for all fans to stay off the pitch, even though half of the North Bank were already over the barriers and standing beside the linesman, who was looking on with understandable worry in his eyes. The final whistle ended the illustrious 93-year life of the Vetch Field and unleashed a torrent of fans all across the pitch, straight towards the players.
The party atmosphere was certainly intensified as the players, in full kit, made their way out into the director’s box to the happiness of the Jack Army faithful. Boots, shirts and shin pads all made their way into the waiting mob, cheering and chanting surely heard for miles around. The actual game may have been forgetful, but thanks to the fans the day was anything but.