89-year-old Melinda Smith set to make Liberty Stadium debut
AN 89-year-old is poised to make a sensational debut at the Liberty Stadium for the Chelsea cup clash on January 23.
Melinda Smith has spent years following the Swans on the radio, although sometimes she gets so excited she has to turn it off.
In 11 days' time she will set off from her sheltered accommodation in Killay and head to Landore for her first taste of live football action.
She can barely contain her excitement.
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And if the semi-final tie goes to penalties, she might not know what to do with herself.
"The thing that I dread, dread, dread is penalties," said Mrs Smith. "It would be so cruel."
The octogenarian has lived in Swansea for a mere 45 years, and began to follow the fortunes of the city's team during the grim days of the Tony Petty era.
Much has changed since then, and Mrs Smith has kept abreast of the club's upturn in fortunes via the wireless and newspapers.
"It's marvellous to think how it was then and how it is today," she said.
"When Brendan (Rodgers) left I thought, 'You naughty person'.
"Then there's Gary Lineker and Alan Hansen saying last season Swansea were not going to stay up — I'm so pleased they did."
On Saturdays at 4.45pm, BBC sports programme Final Score can be heard blaring chez Mrs Smith.
And she was thrilled to catch highlights of Swansea's extraordinary 2-0 away win at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
But she said she was concerned to read that stalwart Blues defender John Terry was on his way back to match fitness.
She said: "I am so excited. I like to get out and about, and I've had a pretty good life — but this is the best."
Mrs Smith, of St Nicholas Court, Killay, said she found it hard to find the words to thank her grandson, Adam Lucca, for buying such sought-after tickets.
Mr Lucca, of Gowerton, said: "She has been a devoted supporter and last week it dawned on me to do something really special for my nan.
"So I had a go at getting a pair of tickets for her and I to see the second leg. I was shocked I actually got them.
"I took the tickets and presented them to her and — after being shocked and actually losing her breath with excitement — her words were, 'Grandson, all the money in the world would not match what you have done for me'.
"At that point I just wanted to cry with joy that she was so happy!
"I am just so happy that I can make her dream come true and take her to see this cup match."
The 38-year-old, who works as a print finisher and graphic designer in Tycoch, added: "I have my orders to get her a decent set of binoculars and a scarf and hat for the night."