Becoming a Swansea fan, a Boston tale

With the new season nearly upon us, I wanted to take the time to write about my first

experience in the UK. Before I can go into the beginning of the 2018/2019 season, I feel that I need to

mention how I came to be a Stateside Jack.

The story starts in 2012, my freshman year of college at a tiny school in the middle of

Massachusetts called Wheaton College. Once upon a time I had the opportunity to join the

soccer team. It ultimately did not pan out but one of the older players, Luke, was really into this

player named Leon Britton. Luke was a phenomenal midfielder - strong, a great passer of the

ball, and though he was not tall in stature, he was one of the leaders on and off the pitch. So I

decided to check this Britton guy and his team out. Prior to 2012 I never really watched soccer

on T.V., even though I’ve played since I was 4. It was about this time I had seen Swansea play

Arsenal to a tough 2-2 draw in the FA Cup with Danny Graham scoring a late equalizer, elating

the Liberty Stadium and making me a fan in the process.

Fast forward a few years, a chance meeting on Xbox live led me to the Stateside Jacks. I

happened to be playing FIFA with some friends online where a friend of a friend joined and

mentioned his favorite team was none other than Swansea City. I quickly believed I was being

deceived and messed with, who else could possibly like Swansea? “Get outta here nobody else

likes the Swans..” lo and behold that’s when Leo became the first other jack bastard I ever knew

and met (Thanks Leo!) I was subsequently added to our Facebook group and I am

sharing my story!

Alright so enough background - Last summer I wanted to explore the UK and more importantly,

go and support the Swans live. I visited a friend of mine who was doing an internship in

Colchester, England for a few days and then I took to exploring the UK on my own. It was

definitely scary - I had never traveled on my own and had to plan everything from hotel

accommodations to train tickets to when and where I’d eat. With that said, the 10 days I was

alone was some of the most fun and introspective days I’ve had in my life.

August 4th 2018 was the first match of the season under Graham Potter and the Swans were

away. I was staying in Manchester at the time and took a train east to Sheffield wearing my

orange Leroy Fer jersey with my SSJ badges on each shoulder. The anticipation for the match

grew and grew with each stop through the countryside. I got off the train and followed a crowd of

red and white striped kits from afar, anxious to not cause trouble as an away supporter

thousands of miles from home. The August sun beamed down on the mile or so walk to Bramall

Lane. I entered the stadium without a hitch, got a beer and headed to my seat. This match will

always be one of my favorites I’ve attended in my life because even though only 900 or so

Jacks made the trip up to Sheffield, it sounded more like 9000 throughout the game. The

Sheffield United fans? A library for most of the match, until they got the opening goal of the

game early on in the second half. I also found out very quickly how ruthless the fans in the UK

can be to opposing players/ referees, wanker this and wanker that. This lead did not last long as

an equalizer from Oli McBurnie was the first ever goal from the swans I’d ever seen. The scenes

were electric - Oli and several swans celebrated with some of the jack army behind the net as

people were hopping the barricades left and right to give the man a hug (who would have

thought then that Oli would be a member of that club in the premier league just a year later :/ ).

It was only 17 minutes later that little Yan Dhanda made his debut and his first touch went into

the back of the net giving the swans 3 points for a 2-1 win. I still get chills thinking about that

goal, even a year later. After the match, I got quite a few questions about my badges as I posed

for a picture behind the net to commemorate my first match in the UK, which subsequently was

shown on Swans officials Twitter page. I made some acquaintances on the walk back to the

station and felt very welcomed by fellow Swans supporters. Once the train came into the station,

I was one of the few supporters heading to Manchester and was greeted with a standing ovation

from the Wednesday supporters returning from their first match of the season. It was a very

enjoyable ride back to Manchester to say the least.