By Jonathan Twigg
THE first-ever FA Cup meeting between Swansea and Tottenham on Saturday (Mar 17) saw the Welsh wizards unceremoniously dismantled in the quarter final, their first in fifty four years thanks to a sublime performance from midfielder Christian Eriksen in a 3-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium.
The North London aristocrats arrived with their usual pomp and ceremony and left South Wales in the knowledge the hosts will not be invading Wembley, Spurs temporary home ground as White Hart Lane is refurbished, although post-match, manager Carlos Carvalhal diminished any thoughts the result would impact on his goal of premier league survival.
Around the time of the Swans last foray into the latter stages of the FA Cup, Cliff Richard and the Shadows had a number one hit single ‘Summer Holiday’, where the fun and laughter of a summer holiday left no worries for me or you’, despite there being no further welsh involvement as Spurs became the first side since Southend United in 1976 to win two games against Welsh opposition in an FA Cup run.
‘We’re going where the sun shines brightly, we’re going where the sea is blue; Swans fans have seen it in the movies and but will now have to wait at least another season to savour the atmosphere and occasion of Wembley in an FA Cup tie.
Perhaps memories of a tough tackling wing back from the post war period can be dusted off; Arthur Willis, capped once for his country against France and part of the Spurs 1950 Division 1 winning side, the Yorkshire man signed for Swansea Town in 1954 and made 96 appearances before journeying further west to take up the reigns as player manager of Haverfordwest County at the Bridge Meadow.
Willis, who died in the Town in 1987 aged 67 brought a professionalism to the Welsh league side where he was able to coerce the best local talent amongst those more seasoned campaigners from up the line.
Local rivals Pembroke Boro had lifted the title in two of the previous three years before the Bluebirds were successful for the first time in 1956/7, something the Pembrokeshire public wouldn’t witness again until 1980/1, Willis mantra like that which Pochettino has seen evolve at Spurs.
Referee Kevin Friend oversaw the fixture with a bitterly cold north westerly wind swirling around as the dark blue shirted visitors kicked off with the Video Assistant Referee Stuart Attwell in place for subjective decisions, an early call being Nathan Dyer being felled in the area by goalkeeper Michel Vorm in a strong but fair challenge, after a fantastic through ball from Tammy Abraham.
The opening goal came after 11 minutes midfielder Eriksen curled a peach of a left foot strike beyond Nortfeldt after exchanging passes with Lamela having been given the freedom of the Swansea as he was unchallenged in moving 30 yards forward.
Tottenham’s quality from playing football in tight pockets nearly drew a second goal when a long winded VAR review stood by the Assistant Referees call of offside as the match was certainly a one sided affair.
With ten minutes left of the opening half Dyer and Clucas raised the home crowd of 17498 expectations an interlude, Ericksons left foot drive getting a fingertip save from Nordfelt and Dier spooning a header over from six yards.
McNaughton, tentative against his former side was disposed of possession as the game meandered into injury time, with Lamela placing a classy right foot shot beyond Nordfelt, the game and Swansea’s foray into a potential semi-final ended.
Carvalhal, mercurial in his analysis called Narsingh off the bench for McNaughton after the half time oranges, Olsson immediately pulling a blinding save off former Swansea goal stopper Vorm, who like Lazarus was off the ground to save a point blank diving header from Abraham.
Dier drew an equally stunning save from Nordfelt at full stretch all within five minutes of the restart where Swansea had some bite in their game, coming on the front foot until Erickson killed the game just after the hour following some sustained build up play.
Spurs are on their way to Wembley, home from home for their supporters, the first time since 1981/2 when they have reached back to back semi-finals. Reflective as the Spurs go marching on that maybe the suitcase required for the summer holiday was not a realistic thought, Carvalhal having greater plans and better destinations than Wembley.
Supporters can rekindle the romance of the Cup, former Police Chief Superintendent John Daniels a mere 14 year old Ammanford schoolboy when he followed the path to Villa Park in 1964.
Much water has travelled down the river since those halcyon days for John, a potential blockbuster role in the pipeline if the book on ‘Seal Bay’ makes the cinema screens.
Now brandishing a white lining on top, more than a fair splattering of snow, he will have to wait a little longer for a trip to Wembley, his suitcase holding the memories of yesteryear and perhaps more importantly the faith he holds in Carvalhal’s renaissance, a true Jack to a King story.