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Our own field of dreams

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: April 13, 2013

heyday  Vetch Field.

heyday Vetch Field.

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BEHIND Swansea prison is Vetch Field, named after a type of plant or legume that once grew there. In 1912 Swansea's newly-formed football club leased this 5.3-acre site from the Swansea Gaslight Company — drawing their first game 1-1, a Southern League match against Cardiff City. Swansea AFC entered the Football League in 1920-21, in Division Three. During nearly a century at the Vetch, the club spent 31 of 33 consecutive seasons in Division Two, twice reached the FA Cup semi-finals, and had two seasons in Division One.

The North Bank grew to be the largest area of The Vetch, with a roof installed in the late 1950s, and was the first part of the ground to be demolished. The East Terrace was developed into the East Stand in the late 1970s, with the West Terrace being the 'away' stand. The Centre or South stand was built in 1912 to accommodate 1,500 spectators, but much altered over the years, eventually running just three quarters of the length of the pitch. Floodlights were installed in 1977 at a cost of £2,500.

The Vetch hosted 18 football Internationals from 1921 to 1988, a commonwealth welterweight title fight in 1960 (won by local boxer Brian Curvis), and music events — The Who in 1976 and Stevie Wonder in 1984.

The highest attendance was 32,796 for an FA Cup fourth round match against Arsenal in February 1968. The ascent to the top of the Football League saw Swansea's first game in Division One in 1981/2 produce a 5-1 victory over Leeds United at The Vetch.

The final Football League game there was in April 2005, with a 1-0 win over Shrewsbury Town. During that 2004/05 season, Swansea City achieved the highest average home attendance for the division, when the ground's capacity was 11,700.

Following the move to the Liberty Stadium, The Vetch was demolished in 2011. The centre circle, where the ashes of some supporters, including former player and manager Harry Griffiths, were scattered, remains, while much of the ground is used for allotments — The Vetch Veg Community Garden.

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