John Richards

Film & TV Editor

Jack to a King

by Mar 18, 2015Film0 comments

Jack to a King, is the remarkable story of a group of life long fans who band together, with courage and determination to reclaim their club from the brink of extinction.

United against an owner who’s first task is to sack the six best players, they risk everything to get Swansea City a shot at playing in the richest football league in the world.

One match, a prize of £90 million, winner takes all. Easy, “not if you know Swansea City”

A universal tale of triumph over adversity that will appeal far beyond fans of the Beautiful game.

On the 12th of September 2014, Swansea City are three games into their fourth Premier League campaign. Memories of their remarkable ten-year rise from near extinction are never far away for fans who have followed them through thick and thin. After three wins, they are joint top of the Premier Division. What better day for the release of the documentary feature film

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Jack to a King. The Swansea story, is the incredible true story of Swansea City FC’s momentous journey from the lower rungs of league football to the mighty heights of the Premier League, the most watched league in the world.

The film celebrates the Swans’ survival using the voices of those who came together, through blood, sweat and tears, both of joy and sadness, to save the club they love.

In 2001 Swansea City was sold for £1 to businessman Tony Petty. His turbulent three-month reign almost brought the club to its knees and made him “the most hated man in Wales”. His plan to cut costs by sacking players met huge opposition from supporters, who joined forces to take over the club and rebuild its fortunes. As anyone from Wales will recognise, you need someone from outside to galvanise the troops, one enemy to fight. Tony Petty played that role and the fans on the North Bank, the Double Decker and the other terraces became the heroes of the hour.

While some groups of fans pressurised Tony Petty to quit by chaining the gates shut and threatening violence, others put money into a consortium which included the Supporters Trust, local businessmen and not so local fans from Holland and New York. Just as the VAT man was rumoured to be calling at “The Vetch” to close the club down the consortium stuffed £20,000 of their own cash into a Tesco carrier bag and drove off to meet Tony Petty and buy a football club. But as the old saying goes, ‘Be careful what you wish for, you might get it!’

As the new owners of Swansea City, the consortium now had to find the money to keep the lights on and to water the pitch. On home game weekends, they would loan cash for the gate float, getting it back on the Monday. David Morgan was one of the fans who took control of the Swans’ and became scared that if he made the wrong move, he could now be blamed for the football club being destroyed. The people of Swansea supported the club by filling the stands but as David says, “Unfortunately, it was the worst season for football at Swansea.”

For the first time in their 91-year history, Swansea found themselves at the very bottom of the English football ladder and facing the very real prospect of dropping out of the professional league altogether.The Swans had to win their final game of the season against Hull City to ensure their survival. As in all good fairy tales, Swansea’s shining knight emerged that day in the form of the big centre forward James Thomas, who scored a hat trick to help Swansea secure a 4–2 win and football league survival.

From here the Swans rebuild until 2011 when they reach the Premier League play-off final. Victory over Reading at Wembley, in a game reputedly worth £90m to the winner and give entry to arguably the best league in the world. The film offers a rare view of a game of such magnitude through the chairman, players and fans eyes. It’s a fitting climax to the Swansea City fairytale. That was their day, and this is their story.

“Jack to a King” then is clearly a football film, but it’s ultimate strength, and what sets it apart is that it is not actually a film about football. It is a film about people. Ordinary people possessing a passion for football. A passion for their club. A passion for their town. A passion for doing things the right way. It is a story of spirit, of fight, of determination, of violence, but also one of love, of care and of humour.

It takes the audience on a roller coaster ride, exploring the harsh realities of competitive sport but, at the end of the day, it explores loyalty.

What really gives this film a soul is the experience of one young fan.

As an anorexic, she hoped her hospital trips would kill her.

As a fan of the Swans, she wanted to live, live and live again.

Jack to a King is now showing in selected cinemas.

Details of screenings can be found on the films website.

DVD released on December 26th 2014