Swansea City: Gone, Wembley scorers who helped create history
GONE but not quickly forgotten, a couple of Swansea City stars are around no more but will continue to sparkle in the memory.
Scott Sinclair is beginning a new adventure at Manchester City where, should he succeed, he will have proved himself as a top-drawer player.
Stephen Dobbie, meantime, has dropped back down to the Championship in search of first-team football after it became apparent he would not see much action under Michael Laudrup.
Whatever happens next for the duo, their feats while in these parts will forever be remembered.
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Sinclair, the hat-trick hero, and Dobbie, who delivered that delicious half-volley, were the goalscorers on perhaps the grandest day in Swansea's 100-year history.
Their departures mean an even grander chunk of the team that triumphed at Wembley has now moved on.
The Championship play-off final against Reading was only 15 months ago, yet many of the key figures that day have now said their goodbyes.
Of the side which started the game, only six players remain on Swansea's books — and one of them, Garry Monk, could be the next man through the Liberty exit door.
Another four men who were among the seven Swansea substitutes as the Royals were beaten in North London are also absent from the Swansea payroll these days.
In football, as we are often reminded, things change very quickly.
Dorus de Vries was the first of the XI who started against Reading to turn his back on Swansea, the goalkeeper making an ill-fated move to Wolverhampton Wanderers within weeks of that landmark success.
Fabio Borini also bid Swansea farewell — although he was only on loan — that summer.
The Italian is now at Liverpool, where he was joined during a couple of months ago by one of his Wembley colleagues, Joe Allen.
Now Swansea have lost Dobbie and Sinclair, the duo whose goals were enough to start a Welsh party at the home of English football.
The end of Sinclair was the bigger talking point of the two deadline-day departures.
That is no surprise, perhaps, given that the former Chelsea youngster is a player who set tongues wagging throughout his time in SA1.
Brendan Rodgers made recruiting Sinclair his No. 1 priority after getting the Swansea job a couple of summers back.
Huw Jenkins eventually agreed a deal worth £500,000 rising to £1.5 million, and Sinclair ended up proving to be worth every penny. And a fair bit more on top of that.
Sinclair was a Swansea sensation in the Championship, rattling in 27 goals from the left flank of a three-pronged attack to drive the club into the Premier League for the first time in their history.
A fair few of those goals were penalties — there were a couple at Wembley, of course — but Sinclair's value to the Swansea side in 2009-10 could not be questioned even if a chunk of his strikes were from the spot.
Penalties still need to be scored, after all, and Sinclair usually takes them with aplomb.
So important was Sinclair in the Championship, in fact, that Rodgers would probably argue Swansea would have not made the top flight without him. It is a decent shout.
Sinclair was a regular once more in the Premier League, and netted eight more Swansea goals in 40 appearances last season.
Four of those were spot-kicks, and there were some in the stands who began to question the extent of Sinclair's influence as the last campaign wore on.
He was still a fine player, still an undoubted threat for his team because of his pace and finishing power.
But at the higher level, there was no question that Sinclair was not the fundamental figure he had been for Swansea during his debut campaign.
Rodgers suggested that one goal in the top tier was worth three in the division below, and he never lost faith in Sinclair even with Wayne Routledge offering an alternative option on the Swansea left.
But some might argue that Rodgers's failure to bid for Sinclair over the summer was telling.
When Manchester City came calling, Rodgers could have thrown his hat into the ring and attempted to take Sinclair to Liverpool.
But for all the Ulsterman's admiration of Sinclair, there was never any hint of interest from Anfield.
That might suggest that Rodgers is one of those who doubts whether Sinclair can deliver at the top-end of the Premier League.
And he would not be the only one judging by the reaction to Sinclair's City switch.
Will he really have a chance of making a mark in a squad which is dripping with high-class talent?
What we can say for certain is that Sinclair faces a battle for game time at the Etihad Stadium, and that when his opportunities come, he must take them.
If he does thrive at City, Sinclair will have poked one or two doubters in the eye.
All at Swansea will wish him the best, for this was a player who served the club admirably for a couple of seasons and then made them a profit of at least £4 million when he moved on.
Swansea also gained on Dobbie, who cost Brighton around £300,000 having arrived in Wales three years ago on a free.
The Scot never quite nailed down a place at the Liberty — and his cause was not aided when the man who signed him, Roberto Martinez, left for Wigan just days after he had come through the door.
Dobbie had an unhappy time under Paulo Sousa, then took a while to convince Swansea's next manager of his worth.
Even after winning Rodgers over, Dobbie quickly became a fringe figure once more when Swansea reached the Premier League.
But for all the time he spent on the sidelines, Dobbie will be remembered for his best spell in the team.
A forward capable of doing something special in the final third, he scored five goals in the last five games of Swansea's 2010-11 promotion campaign.
The only match in which he failed to score during that run was the one where he was substituted after a couple of minutes, Dobbie being sacrificed after Neil Taylor's startling red card in the play-off semi-final first leg at Nottingham Forest.
He was back in the side for the return game and notched up a brilliant individual goal to help Swansea into the final.
Then came Wembley, where he set up Sinclair's solitary open-play strike and then scored himself.
He was substituted early in the second half, but by then his job was done.
Like Sinclair and the rest who wore white that day, he had written his name in the history books.