Frank Swift was my hero, never seen a ‘keeper like him since. Ok, there have been some great ‘keepers over time but Swifty had that bit of magic about him.
I remember one game, against Spurs, Willie Hall came charging through the City defence and he was about 15/20 yards out of the box. Swifty just stood still on the 6 yard line, hands loose as if not a care in the world, Hall kept coming, looked up at Swifty, shot, Swifty just casually knocked it down with hardly a movement. Hall looked flabbergasted, Swifty just smiled and patted him on his head, threw it out, one handed to Maurice Dunkerly on the half way line. Classic moment.
Swifty could also throw a ball, the big heavy one, further than most could kick it. He smiled a lot, although I missed the game when Bradford PA put 8 past us at Maine Road, I would have liked to have seen his face then. Swift, Sproston, Barkas, three huge characters. Both full backs had fierce dead ball kicking power, Bert Sproston probably shaded it.
My first City game, around 1944/5, City vs. Everton, we lost to Everton 2-0. They had some great players. Next match was Grimsby Town, I cannot remember the score, think it was a draw – they also had a good ‘keeper George Tweedy I think but may have been Moulson. I only saw Peter Doherty once but we had a great left winger then called Pearson from Newcastle. Of course, lots of loan players then due to the war.
Lots of memories but Big Frank was my all time favourite, still is, always had time for fans, signing autographs, having a quick chat. I also remember a Boxing Day match against Plymouth Argyle, we were cruising 3-1 at half time, we won 4-3… just: one of their goals was brilliant and Swifty actually gave the player a handshake – can you see that happening today?
The best days of football are behind us I think but despite all the hype and TV of today I have still to witness the atmosphere of mixed supporters in a packed ground, everyone shouting and rattling away (rattling would probably be banned now under health and safety rules!). Very little police on duty, crowds knew how to behave then; just imagine the cost savings if everybody behaved themselves – not much to ask is it?
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #1545 on