Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Swim Away

According to reports, former Swansea defender Izzy Iriekpen gave the swim-away gesture to Cardiff fans at Scunthorpe on Saturday, as they were celebrating Joe Ledley's equaliser.

You may be wondering what that's all about. Well it's a simple breast stroke action performed to provoke Cardiff fans, relating to an incident between two sets of supporters back in the day. Back in which day? Well I'm not quite sure.

I had always believed that I was present when it happened. There was a game at the Vetch in the early 1990s which took place over the Christmas Holidays. I arrived at Cardiff Central only to find that there were no trains that day. I picked up a couple of fellow City fans at the station and I decided to drive to The Vetch.

I parked up opposite the prison and made my way to the ground via Glamorgan Terrace. I don't remember anything of the game at all, but I do remember that we didn't have our usual large following out that day. And I remember being surprised that we weren't kept behind while they cleared the area.

As we reached the car park near the Crown Courts on the sea front, I could see a mob of Jacks on the main road. They saw straight away that we were pretty vulnerable and came straight at us. I'm not ashamed to say that I legged it. Straight up a blocked alleyway. I turned round expecting to get a kicking, and was relieved to see that the mob of Swansea were busy persuing a group of City fans up towards the Holiday Inn.

As I made my way to the car, fights were breaking out all over the car park. Not a policeman in sight. It was chaos. I then sat in the jam of vehicles trying to get out of the car parks as running battles continued. Pretty unpleasant stuff.

I heard much later that the Swansea mob had chased that group of Cardiff fans right into the sea. And it was from this event that the "swim-away" insult was derived. the Western Mail however, mentions "an incident near Port Talbot". I had understood that it was Cardiff fans from Port Talbot who were run into the sea, so maybe the story has got confused somewhere.

Either way, it was a pretty crass act from Irikpen. I'm not sure that he did himself any favours with his actions. I have also seen the young Swansea player Joe Allen celebrate a goal for Wales Schools with a swim-away celebration. At least he has the naiivety of youth as an excuse. Iriekpen has only ignorance.

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