Signing a centre-forward of Latchfords’ quality was a real coup for the Swans. During his time at Everton he was not only their top league goalscorer for 4 consecutive seasons but he was also the first player in six years to score more than 30 goals during a season (1977/78) in the First Division. He also scored 5 goals in just 12 international appearances for England.
Thankfully it didn’t take Latchford long to start repaying his price tag and write himself into the history books at the same time. A ten minute hat-trick in the second half against Leeds United at the Vetch Field helped the Swans record a thumping 5-1 in the club’s very first game in the First Division.
He was without doubt the best centre-forward I ever remember playing for the Swans during my early days of supporting them as a 9 year old stood on the North Bank or sat in the Double Decker!
During his time at the Vetch, Latchford found the net on a regular basis scoring 53 times in 109 appearances in all competitions for the Swans between 1981 and 1983. These goals included not only his hat-trick against Leeds but also hat-tricks against Norwich City and Bristol Rovers.
It is a little known fact but Latchford actually scored the last goal for the Swans in the old top flight days, a last minute consolation goal in the 2-1 defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford on 7 May 1983 – the penultimate game before the Swans were relegated back to the 2nd Division.
Sadly Latchford left the Swans in December 1983 on a free transfer with the club under financial pressures and struggling in the Second Division. He went on to play for NAC Breda in Holland before returning to the Football League with Coventry City at the start of the 1984/85 season.
Towards the end of his footballing career Latchford played for two other Welsh clubs – Newport County and Merthyr Tydfil. He won the Welsh Cup with the latter in 1987 just as he had with the Swans in 1982 and 1983.
Latchford started a new life in Germany in 2002 and he still lives there with his family to this day. He does however make regular trips back to the UK as a speaker on the after dinner circuit and at Everton football club functions.
Photo courtesy of EMPICS Sport and South Wales Evening Post