May 2nd 1981. A date that will live long in the memory of Swansea City supporters everywhere. A 3-1 win at Deepdale that ended a remarkable journey that began just four years earlier and lifted the Swans from Division Four to Division One in such a short period of time.
Just six years earlier, the Swans had been forced to apply for re-election to the Football League after finishing bottom of the Fourth Division but the win at Deepdale secured a third promotion in 4 seasons for John Toshack and his side.
The Swans went into the game knowing that they would secure promotion with a win thanks to their superior goal difference over Blackburn Rovers but it was against a Preston side who needed points to stay in the second division.
The Swans were backed by more than 10,000 supporters who made the long trip to North West England. This was the biggest away support for the South Wales club “since Swansea met Preston at Villa Park in 1964” (South Wales Evening Post, 2 May 1981). Throughout the match, the travelling contingent backed their team vocally and “included Cwm Rhondda and the Welsh national anthem in their musical repertoire” (South Wales Evening Post, 2 May 1981).
Leighton James opened the scoring in the 24th minute whilst Tommy Craig added a second very shortly afterwards to send the travelling support into celebration and open the door to the first division for the Swans.
Alex Bruce may have pulled one back with a little over 10 minutes left to play but when Jeremy Charles scored the Swans third in the closing stages of the match it was as good as over and the Swans were a First Division football team.
Never before had a side managed to climb the league system as quickly as the swans did under John Toshack. Bill Shankly, whom Tosh had played for at Liverpool, applauded the club’s remarkable achievements. In an interview with BBC Sport shortly after the match at Preston, he asserted that Toshack could be “manager of the century”.
“This is the greatest day in the history of Swansea City and there’s no reason why they can’t stabilise themselves in the big league” he added.
Why not check out the Evening Post’s 25 year celebratory publication of that famous day here
WERE YOU AT PRESTON ON THAT MAGICAL DAY? WHY NOT SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS BY LEAVING YOUR COMMENTS BELOW OR SHARE THEM ON OUR FORUMS HERE