My first agency filming job was the film Pride, set in
Banwen and Onllwyn at the top end of the Dulais Valley and for me just up
the road from Glynneath. During the filming I got to chat with many of my
fellow 'extras' including Merve Read. Hat's off and major respect for
Merve who was the producer on the famous Swansea City song. I've borrowed
the story and an interview with Merve from somewhere else..............
"It all began in early 1978, when Swans fan and local poet, Mervyn Read, had an idea for a Swansea City song, but upon presenting the idea to the board, was told by Chairman, Malcolm
Struel, that a man from Llanelli had already written one. That man being Roger Evans.
Mr Struel played Mr Read the track, but upon hearing it, Mr Read felt that the song was too folky and needed some re-arranging. He offered his services to produce the song and travelled up to London with Mr Struel for a meeting with EMI Records to arrange a national release.
“After a discussion with EMI, what they were prepared to give us as a percentage wasn’t worthwhile, so we decided to release the track ourselves,” said Mr Read.
Mr Read and Mr Evans then teamed up to go through the song and re-arrange it.
“Roger had already written the bulk of the track, but the original version didn’t have the Tottenham or Ardilles references, neither did it have the line about
“We looked at the club’s current situation and re-arranged it by inserting verses to make it interesting to the fans of the time.”
The demo was recorded at Hot Town Music in Swansea.
It involved going down to the Vetch and recording the whole team singing in the VIP lounge, including players such as Tommy Smith, Ian Callaghan, Alan Curtis, Robbie James and player-manager John
Although the result sounded good, it wasn’t perfect. Mervyn wanted the shouts in the song to stand out and sound more powerful. For this, he called upon the services of the Dunvant Male Voice Choir and the 3M’s football team.
With all three parties, including the Swans team involved, they created the perfect blend of vocals to back Roger’s lead. Everything was then mixed at RG Jones Studios in Wimbledon.
“It felt alive and was full of excitement. We really had a great mix,” said Mr Read.
On the evening of March 20, 1979, the Swans played host to Elton John's Division Three leaders Watford. A win over the Hornets would put third place City within 2 points of the top. What better place to launch the new club song than in front of a packed out Vetch Field crowd of 20,000.
To make things even better, the Swans finished on top, winning 3-2 on the night.
In an Evening Post interview, the club’s press and public relations officer, Chris Smart, claimed the track was regarded as one of the finest football songs around according to some of the industry’s top dogs.
Mr Read recalled there being many memorable moments during their promotional Vetch Field performances, including Swansea Council’s environmental health department trying to shut them down for playing too loud.
However, the story that stuck out the most was a little secret that Mr Read, Mr Evans and the band had been hiding all these years.
“We had a tape machine hidden under a cover right by where the Swansea board were sitting in the director’s box. They were oblivious to what was going on, thinking everything was live. The boys would then come on to the pitch looking as if they were all mic’d up and plugged into amps but it was just a backing track that we used, with a live vocal for Roger,” said Mr Read.
“We sold out in about three weeks, so we then had to have another 2,000 singles made. We eventually managed to sell 11,000,
“We knew it was a good song, but no way did we think that it would still be sung with people loving it all these years later.
“There’s nothing we could’ve changed to improve the song or make it more commercial; it was just as it should be, and that’s why it’s held its test of time.”
The song that was once roared throughout the North Bank is still being sung by a new generation of fans across the Liberty, although just the
“Swansea Oh Swansea Oh city said I,
I’ll stand here on the north bank until the day I die,
Take me to the vetch field
Way down by the sea
Where I will follow Swansea..............