Drama as Swansea City beat Chelsea to reach Wembley
HEROES on the pitch — and a cult hero ball boy just off it.
There just had to be drama if Swansea City were to reach Wembley.
He may not have been aware at the time, but ball boy Charlie Morgan — son of the club's major shareholder and director Martin Morgan — played a part in Swansea's journey to the Capital One Cup final.
So he took his time in giving the ball back to home keeper Gerhard Tremmel with time running out. So what? That's what home advantage is all about.
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For Chelsea's Eden Hazard to aim a kick at him was brainless. He was duly sent off — and with him went the Blues' chances.
Swansea have been basking in the glow of glamorous company for the past 18 months — but last night was about chasing their own glory.
After winning promotion to the Premier League in May 2011, talk switched to the host of stellar names who would be visiting South Wales. The excitement was palpable as fans looked forward to seeing the likes of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Mario Balotelli at the Liberty.
Yesterday the main draw for the home supporters who flocked to Landore was not the chance to glimpse Fernando Torres at close quarters.
They were not clamouring to see Frank Lampard, Hazard or Juan Mata.
Nor did the locals care which of Chelsea's famous followers — said to include Michael Caine, Will Ferrell and David Baddiel — had journeyed to SA1.
Swans supporters were there to see home players become heroes.
There were an extra few decibels resonating from the East Stand as an electric atmosphere crackled amongst the surrounding snow.
Perhaps it was appropriate that the country was covered in a blanket of white as a team wearing that colour made their mark on the national stage.
Swansea had never reached a major cup final in their 100-year history — but somehow it seems fitting for this to be their year.
Not only are the club celebrating their centenary, but exactly ten years ago Swansea were rooted to the bottom of the Football League and staring at oblivion.
Now they have a glorious opportunity to claim top honours.
Bradford await in the Capital One Cup final following their shock semi-final triumph over Aston Villa on Tuesday.
Last night Swansea may have enjoyed the lion's share of support from those watching at home on TV.
But warm sentiment was not enough to send them through on a freezing night against a side founded on cold, hard cash.
Instead it took a gritty defensive effort to secure a trip to Wembley after Michu and Danny Graham grabbed goals a fortnight earlier at Stamford Bridge.
Swansea stayed ice cool despite the mounting tension. But the heat rose for Hazard.
Now Swansea stand on the brink of claiming their greatest ever triumph.
And whether or not Ashley Williams lifts the cup next month, there is no denying he and his team-mates have stepped out of the shadows.
Opposition players are no longer the only source of sparkle for those visiting the Liberty.
Suddenly, Michael Laudrup's men are the superstars chasing a big prize.