Declan Terry recently interviewed former Swansea defender Kevin Austin. Here, ‘The Doorman’ speaks about the Vetch Field, Garry Monk, Swansea City and much more. Enjoy!
You’ve played for many clubs in many different divisions, but how was your four years at Swansea City?
I’ll never forget my time at Swansea. From the first moment I set foot into the place, I just knew this was a special football club. There seemed to be a massive buzz around the place, from the people who worked in the office to the ground staff. The manager at the time Kenny Jacket assembled a team of really talented players, so much so that we got promoted in my first season at the club. From there the momentum carried on through to the Martinez era where I experienced another promotion, winning domestic cup competitions in-between, whilst playing in front of the Swansea fans who I have to thank greatly for making my time at Swansea an enjoyable experience.
You signed for the Swans in 2004 and won promotion from League Two in your first season. How was that last season at the Vetch Field?
Playing at the Vetch had a real unique atmosphere, especially under the lights in big games. It also had this historic feel about it, and the noise from the North Bank was deafening when the Jack Army was in full voice. So to clinch promotion in the last ever season at the Vetch was extra special. The very last match at the Vetch was an incredible day, I saw men and women crying with tears of joy! It was an end of an era which I felt really honoured to be apart of.
You missed your home debut against Cheltenham in August 2004 when you were caught in a traffic jam on the M4. Can you explain more about this?
I’m still laughing with embarrassment now, but I can assure you I wasn’t at the time especially as there was a fatality on the motorway hence the reason for me missing the match. I remember phoning the gaffer at the time (Kenny Jacket) who wasn’t happy at all! Once everything calmed down, I must add the gaffer was really understanding about the situation and whole thing was soon forgotten.
In your final Swansea City season you featured in another Swansea promotion as they finished as League One champions. How different was that promotion, compared to the 2005 promotion?
Again I was very privileged to experience my second promotion whilst at Swansea. No two promotions are the same. The first promotion was special for all the reasons I have given previously, but to go up as champions in my last season and for a player at the time who was nearing the end of my career, I couldn’t asked for anything better. I’ve spoken to players who haven’t won anything throughout their careers, so yeah, very special occasion.
In a match against Yeovil Town in March 2007 you were forced off the field as you suffered a major heart scare. There was speculation that it could have ended your football career. What was that like?
Well I’m an asthmatic and wasn’t feeling too good during that match. I had a virus but tried to get through the game as best as I could, but had to come off with tightness of the chest. When I went to the hospital they gave me an ECG which showed I had an irregular heartbeat – that raised concern for the doctors. They kept me in overnight and done a series of test which showed I might of had a small heart attack. Once all the tests were concluded I was discharged with a clean bill of health. They put it down to my athleticism. It was quite worrying at the time. I remember all I wanted to do was get back on the training ground with the lads but for a split second that was so secondary.
When you were at Swansea, could you ever have imagined the club would succeed as well as they have done in recent years?
Like I said earlier, I always knew the club was on the verge of achieving great things and I knew at some stage Swansea would be really successful. What surprised me was how quick they achieved everything, especially their Premiership status. That’s a real credit to everyone associated with the club.
You played alongside Garry Monk many times, but could you have predicted that he would become a very successful manager?
Yes and no. I thoroughly enjoyed playing alongside Monks and whilst doing so I was quick to notice his leadership qualities as well as being an influential part of the team, so for that reason I’m not surprised at all. But on the other hand, everyone who knows Monks would tell you that he was one of the biggest jokers in the dressing room haha! In all seriousness it’s good to see how well he’s doing and wish him all the best and hope he goes on to have a good career in management.
How do you think Swansea will do this season under Monk?
What Swansea have achieved so far has been brilliant, but knowing the ambition of the club and Monks himself they will be looking to improve upon last season. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see the swans pushing hard for the top six or winning one of the domestic trophies.
We’d like to thank Kevin for taking the time to speak to us, and we wish him all the best for the future – YJB!