Did you know, if you're a man living in the UK there's an 8/1
chance that you'll be affected by prostate cancer?
In 2013 Prostate Cancer UK is aiming to lengthen those odds by
launching the Sledgehammer Fund, which
aims to wake up the nation to a disease that kills 10,000 men every
year. And as we're the Official Charity Partner of The Football
League and the Capital One Cup in 2012-13, who better to help us
spread our message than fans of the beautiful game?
It's proved to be the year of the underdog in the Capital One
Cup. Swansea upset the odds by overcoming European champions
Chelsea in their semi-final, while npower League One Bradford
defeated three top-flight opponents - Wigan, Arsenal and Aston
Villa - on their way to the Wembley showpiece.
Appearing in the final will rank among both clubs' finest
achievements. To celebrate, we asked the Guardian's resident
football history buff Scott Murray to give us the lowdown on each
of the team's most memorable moments.
Click here for Bradford's most memorable moments; read on for
Scott's simply stunning Swansea memories...
Mighty Michu: Swansea's super Spanish striker. Photo courtesy of Action Images
The first semi-final
It was 1926: Herbert Chapman had just taken over as manager of
First Division Arsenal and signed the famous Charlie Buchan. But
Second Division Swansea Town (as they were named until 1969) saw
off their illustrious opponents 2-1 in the FA Cup quarter-finals,
with Len Thompson and Jack Fowler scoring the goals. The Swans lost
to Bolton in the semi, but this had been a famous giantkilling
Swans fly across the country - and back
The Easter holidays are usually a time for relaxation, but there
was none of that for Swansea Town in 1936. On Good Friday, they won
2-1 at Plymouth, then had to travel the length of the country to
play at Newcastle the very next day. It set a league record for the
longest distance travelled between matches that still stands today.
The Swans lost 2-0 at St James' Park, perhaps mindful they had to
be back in Swansea on the Monday to face Plymouth again!
Swansea had dipped into the third tier just after the war, but
came bouncing back in 1948-49, winning the Third Division South
title having scored a whopping 87 goals and dropped only one point
at home all season. The manager, Billy McCandless, who had won
eight Scottish titles as a player with Rangers, completed a strange
hat-trick as a manager: he'd already won the Third Division South
title with Swansea's rivals Newport County and Cardiff City.
Swansea's 1963-64 season was remarkable. They only just avoided
relegation from the Second Division - yet in the quarter-finals of
the FA Cup they put out champions-elect Liverpool. Jimmy McLaughlin
and Eddie Thomas put the Swans 2-0 up at Anfield before goalkeeper
Noel Dwyer saved a late penalty to seal a scarcely believable 2-1
victory. McLaughlin put Swansea ahead in the semi against fellow
second-tier side Preston, but the Lilywhites turned it round to
break Welsh hearts.
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Tosh takes over
Swansea were in the Fourth Division in 1978; by 1981 they were in
the First. Harry Griffiths started the ball rolling, but having
fallen victim to ill-health and passed the baton to 28-year-old
player-manager John Toshack mid-season, succumbed to a heart attack
in the Vetch Field treatment room on the day Swansea won promotion
to Division Three. Tosh took the club straight up again the
following year, and after a season of consolidation in the Second
Division, brought top-flight football to Swansea for the first time
Top of the tree
Swansea wasted no time in making their mark in the First Division.
They thumped Leeds 5-1 on the opening day of the season, by October
had drawn at European champions Liverpool, then reached the top of
the table after a win at Stoke. They were still third in mid-March,
and finished sixth.
Supporting Swansea has been nothing if not a rollercoaster ride:
they were back in the Fourth Division by 1986. They bounced between
the bottom two divisions over the next two decades, then, in 2003,
it looked like their 82-year residency of the Football League was
coming to an end, but a final-day victory over Hull - with James
Thomas the hat-trick hero of a 4-2 win - preserved their status,
prompting delirious fans to invade the field.
Going up again
Having flirted with disaster, Swansea zoomed back up the divisions
again. Brian Flynn took them into the third tier in 2005, Roberto
Martínez led them to the League One title in 2008, and Brendan
Rodgers took them into the Premier League via a Scott
Sinclair-inspired Wembley play-off win against Reading in 2010 -
and kept them up.
A major final at last
The Swans have won the Welsh Cup 10 times, and reached the final
on a further eight occasions, but they had never reached a major
English final - until now. Michael Laudrup's side claimed a famous
2-0 win at Chelsea in the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg
thanks to goals from Michu and Danny Graham, before their defenders
got the job done in the return leg at the Liberty Stadium (with a
little help from a certain ballboy).