Swansea University FC Reunions

40 Years of Unbreakable Bonds and Unforgettable Memories

The University Football Club recently celebrated a remarkable milestone as it held its 40th reunion, bringing together around 40 former players predominantly from the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s.

It's important to note that this wasn't a one-time event for the 40th year; rather, it marked the 40th actual reunion that has seen participants from as far as Australia, Holland, Canada, and even closer to home in Neath. But how did it all begin?

Denis Byrne, one of the event's dedicated members, sheds light on its origins: "In 1981, after our last game of the season, we decided to assemble a Leavers XI. Following the match spent at the Rhydds on FA Cup Final day, we agreed to come back the next year and replay the game against the current university team. From there, it became an annual tradition. Every year since, we gather in Swansea over the first weekend of March. Usually, we have around 25-30 attendees, no small feat in itself. However, this year's turnout was particularly strong due to the 40th anniversary."

Swansea University FC Reunion

In the past, a highlight of the weekend was a Sunday morning match against the university team, and more recently, local veteran teams. In its more recent incarnation, one of the weekend's highlights is a fiercely contested golf tournament held in memory of the late Steve Bird. "Birders was a Swansea University FC legend. Remembering him this way is the least we can do. At his funeral, numerous 'Old Boys' turned out, which wasn't a coincidence. It's another way of celebrating the incredible time we had in Swansea during that period. To be honest, I don't think any of us can remember a single lecture, but we can recall the games we played against other universities and in the local Saturday leagues as if it were yesterday," says Kev Jones. Sadly, a few other former players, including Alan Davies and Martin Webster, have since passed away. However, as Mike Ede clarifies, "This isn't a sad occasion at all; in fact, it's quite the opposite."

Swansea University FC Reunion match at Sketty Lane

"For most of us, this event is a real highlight of the year, and we will keep going for as long as we can. The weekends may not be as riotous as they were in the mid to late 1980s, but we still manage to create quite an impression. While we do reminisce about familiar character weaknesses, the lasting memory is of a group of friends who played together years ago and have stayed in touch consistently over a long period of time. It's because we had such an incredible time in Swansea, and we have genuinely remained great mates, not just distant, fading memories," shares Andy McRae.

Swansea University FC Reunion golf tournament

When Steve Bird sadly died, a poem was written for him by one of our more literate gang, Denis Byrne as follows:

The line is crossed, the team talk given,
Another team mate
Weaves his way to heaven.

On college steps our bond was met,
And through our lives
Of toil and family and play
We held our thread to Swansea Bay.

But now our friend sends one last pass,
And the shape of our better selves
Bends towards us,
Sprinkling banter, laughter and song
Across the grass.

Our season is not yet done,
So pin the team sheet for all to see,
Oh what a team this will be ...
Martin Webster
Steve Bird
Alan Davies
Is my name next skipper?

So, take the nets down slowly,
Gather the corner flags,
Put your socks in pairs
And sooth your bruises lads.

Our love for each is never far,
Dear friends,
We'll see you in the college bar.

Naturally, over 40 years, we have inevitably lost contact with some of the team. Please contact Andy if you’d like to be involved andy@the-mcraes.com