Saturday brings another game of huge importance, a chance for Sunderland to continue the encouraging recent revival but against opponents as desperate as us for points. Ian James is a Swansea City supporter and also the sort of football enthusiast the game needs: ‘profoundly deaf’, as he put it in our e-mail exchanges, he was the co-founder of the club’s Disabled Supporters’ Association, from which he is about to step down as chairman. Ian gives some straight-to- the-point responses to our questions ..
Sunderland and Swansea: similar predicaments but meeting after sharply contrasting results (our win versus Leicester, your heavy defeat at Spurs). What has gone wrong for the Swans and do you fear the worst?
Ian James: The ownership issue has thrown things out of kilter and possibly the recruitment process has slipped in recent years. We used to find good players like Michu, Bony, De Guzman etc. That has dried up now
Bob Bradley: yet another manager (again a bit like us in that respect) and the first American to take charge of a Premier League club. Early impressions?
Bob is a very nice guy actually and came along as a surprise guest to a DSA meeting. It is a big ask to come in with the club in this position and turn it around. The Premier League is a very unforgiving environment and he would possibly have benefited from having an experienced person behind him in addition to Alan Curtis.
And your thoughts on the new US ownership?
It is fair to say that it hasn’t been smooth sailing and we are still looking to see whether the will be any investment in the club. Who knows? Actions speak louder than words.
You may be a supreme optimist but just say you went down, is the club structured for a speedy return or would you be facing a spell in the Championship?
I would hope so. A lot of money has been spent on club infrastructure but there are a lot of big clubs still stuck in the championship following relegation.
I imagine you are missing Ashley Williams. Is defence an area where Bradley must strengthen or are there other pressing needs?
Defence definitely. Ashley Williams’s leadership qualities have been missed as they were not adequately replaced.
What have been your highlights as a Swansea supporter?
Promotion to Premier League. League cup win. Winning at Valencia in Europa league.
And the worst of times?
Too many to mention. Although it all worked out, having to beat Hull City to stay in the league was a terrible day especially when we went 2 1 down. However, many people see that day as the start of our journey upwards.
Who are the Swansea greats – the best you’ve seen or wish you’d be around to see – from either the Vetch Field or Liberty eras?
Would love to have seen Ivor Allchurch play in his prime. My favourites are Alan Curtis, Robbie James, Dzemal “Jimmy” Hadziabdic, Ante Rajkovic and Trunds!
Does any player stick out as one the club was mad to sign or persevere with?
Oh boy! Quite a few! David NGog,
Do you miss the old ground?
Spiritually yes. Location wise yes as it was in centre of town surrounded by pubs and a stone’s throw from the beach. Facilities-wise, no I don’t!
Swans vs Sunderland: Click here to Guess the Score – you could win a magnificent Art of Football print. A Swansea winner would be offered a suitable alternative to the SAFC prints you see pictured
Sunderland: did you see our troubles coming or did you think we’d finally turned the corner – and did you feel during our winless run that our luck had finally run out?
Sunderland always seem to pull it out of the hat. Not sure if we have those fighting qualities yet.
Any other thoughts on the club, the fans, the North East, David Moyes?
I think Moyes will turn it around for you. Never been to Sunderland but been to Newcastle if I am allowed to say that here!
Top four in order this season?
Much more important, bottom three?
I think we may be one but if I had three others it would be Hull, Burnley and Leicester!
Tell us about the work of the Swans Disabled Supporters’ Association and your role in it? What more could clubs do to aid the disabled?
I helped set up the DSA a few years ago and I am currently chair. I am stepping down as club disability officer now due to work commitments. The club and the stadium management company have done a lot for disabled supporters and are always looking to improve. There is an excellent relationship between club and DSA
Great to see the Swans at the top of the league for Wheelchair spaces! Mass credit to Ian James for all of the… http://t.co/WhzOcO0gy1
— SCFC2 (@swansinfo) March 18, 2014
You suffer from deafness. Is that a handicap that seriously impairs your enjoyment of football?
No it doesn’t at all. Maybe I would like to hear the chanting a bit more but when we sign hymns and arias I can pick that up as it is so loud and sing along with it
Diving: too commonplace to be worth bothering about any longer or still has to be confronted along with other forms of cheating?
Confronted. It is cheating. Pure and simple.
Is there a ref you particularly admire – and any you dread officiating a Swans game?
They are all much of a muchness now. I think they are under a lot of pressure due to world wide exposure. Pundits who have access to multiple replays take the mick out of refs (let’s see how they would do in that situation) and also the sheer amount of money in the game makes it harder for them
Will you be at our game? What will the score?
I will be there and I think it will be Swansea City 1 Jermaine Defoe 1 !!
* Ian James on himself:
I run my own consultancy business after working in construction for more than 30 years. I first watched the Swans in 1971.
Interview: Colin Randall