FEATURE: Swansea City's rapid rise should be an example to Cobblers - Curle

Adebayo Akinfenwa has a shot during the last meeting between Northampton and Swansea, which came in League One 11 years ago. City have since enjoyed seven seasons in the top flight, including two top-10 finishes. Picture: Pete Norton
Adebayo Akinfenwa has a shot during the last meeting between Northampton and Swansea, which came in League One 11 years ago. City have since enjoyed seven seasons in the top flight, including two top-10 finishes. Picture: Pete Norton

Swansea City's rapid rise from bottom of England's fourth tier all the way to the Premier League should be an example to clubs up and down the land, including the Cobblers, says Town boss Keith Curle.

Northampton head to south Wales for the first round of the Carabao Cup this evening 11 years on from their last meeting with Swansea, which came at Sixfields in League One in March 2008.

A Poul Hübertz brace helped the home side to a 4-2 victory on that occasion but with City since enjoying seven seasons in the Premier League - including two top-10 finishes - a repeat scoreline tonight seems unlikely.

But Swansea's ascent started before even then. The club nearly went out of business in 2001 when they were saved by a group of supporters and local businessmen, led by former player Mel Nurse, who bought the club for £1 from controversial previous owner Tony Petty.

Two years later City beat Hull on the final day of the season to stay in the Football League and within eight years, they defeated Reading in the Championship play-off final, securing a fairytale promotion to the top flight.

"It's a great stadium with great facilities and it's an example of how far a football club can come," says Curle, who faced Swansea as Mansfield Town manager in the old Third Division in 2003. "I remember playing against them and they were a club that nearly went out of business.

"The infrastructure behind the scenes is in place, the foundations are in place and a lot of credit has to go to them for the continual progression the club has shown."

Swansea enjoyed seven years in England's top tier and won many supporters with their easy-on-the-eye style of football, firstly under Roberto Martinez before Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup continued the good work.

The club established themselves as Premier League regulars, finishing as high as eighth one season and ninth another, and they also won the League Cup in 2013 when thrashing Bradford City 5-0 in the final.

It's been more of a struggle since. Unable to find a long-term manager, they were relegated in 2017 before finishing mid-table in the Championship under Graham Potter last season.

Potter has since left for Brighton, replaced by England U17s' World Cup-winning manager Steve Cooper, but whilst Swansea's fairytale journey has stalled in recent times, they remain proof that, for clubs like Northampton, anything is possible if it all comes together - both on and off the pitch.

"It's about that starting point," adds Curle. "The vision and the communication of where you are first of all as a starting point but also identifying where potentially you can get to season from season.

"Finances do come into it and the higher up you go the more finances are available but you have to have a good starting point and that's why I've said, right from day one, that our housekeeping has to be in order.

"The short and medium is doing that right because previously there was an imbalance."

When you consider the current plights of Bolton and Bury, Swansea's remarkable story gives hope to us all.