We’ll none of us forget the date.
A genuinely human tragedy overtook the fans turning up to watch this game.
Gary Speed, the young Wales Football Manager but, more importantly, a husband and father, and massively respected decent human being, was found dead this morning. My sympathies, ALL our sympathies, are given to his family and friends. It will be little consolation to them, but it feels right to offer it anyway.
I’ve thought seriously about whether I ought to be writing this, but on reflection I felt it would be more honest to just front it up and put down briefly how I feel. You’ll know why.
I’d planned to open the report with something light but things have changed.
In fact, in my preparatory rough work I’d even written some words. But it did, and still does, feel wrong.
On days like yesterday and today, those were not the feelings and emotions we were subjected to, not really. Our feelings matter little in comparison to those of his family and friends, and I repeat, we can only offer them our deepest respect and condolences.
Anyone reading this, if they care, knows exactly what I mean. Here was a Premier League game we had spent the week looking forward to, and as it turned out, it didn’t REALLY matter.
After hearing the news of Gary’s untimely death I didn’t really care whether we won or lost. It didn’t seem that important. To either me or the supporters of both teams who’d turned up in their thousands. It still feels like that now. I suspect I’m not alone in feeling that way.
If we did and do feel like that, imagine what it was like for the players in this game. Awful, sad…who knows. I certainly don’t.
From a personal point of view, I got to know the news from whispers on the West Lower concourse and confirmation from the Sky Sports News TV feeds which flashed up the stark statement of facts from the Welsh FA at about 12.30 .
It seems like ages ago, now.
I made my way to our Lower West seats, where, for many people, the first confirmation of the news came from Kevin Johns, Swans in-house Match Announcer, both reading the stark facts and asking both sets of supporters to honour a Minute’s Silence in remembrance of Gary, along with both sets of players, prior to kick-off.
Many will have seen that the Minute’s Silence turned, spontaneously, into a Minute’s Applause from all present, and it did the game, the gesture, the memory, and everyone there proud that it was respected in such exemplary fashion.
The last thing you need to read about this game is a minute-by-minute report of the action so I’ll reserve my opinions to these.
The game was, unsurprisingly, a very muted affair, generally with the Swans on top in the first half but Villa more generally dangerous in the second.
Swansea were neat in possession, but failed to carve any clearcut chances until when twice, late in the game, Leroy Lita (on for an injured Danny Graham), firstly rolled his marker but put his shot wide of the diving Shay Given’s left hand post, and again, secondly, had Given save his one-on-one as well. The keeper had been in tears before the game. He was but one of many.
Swansea also lost Rangel to injury, and my only complaint was I felt Villa did, on occasion, “leave a foot in.”
The visitors also created a couple of second half chances through Agbonlahor, saved by Vorm, and Herd, headed wide. Enough.
On such a sad day, it feels right to leave any further comments to people more eloquent than I.
As Adele once tragically, sadly, said in song,…
“I wish nothing but the best for you.”
RIP Gary Speed.
This article was written by Peter Thomas