Peter Swan (footballer born 1966)

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Peter Swan
Personal information
Full name Peter Harold Swan[1]
Date of birth (1966-09-28) 28 September 1966 (age 47)[2]
Place of birth Leeds, England
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Playing position Centre-half/Centre-forward[3]
Youth career
1980–1984 Leeds United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1989 Leeds United 49 (11)
1989–1991 Hull City 80 (24)
1991–1994 Port Vale 111 (6)
1994–1995 Plymouth Argyle 27 (2)
1995–1997 Burnley 49 (7)
1997–1998 Bury 37 (6)
1998–2000 Burnley[N 1] 19 (0)
2000 York City 11 (0)
Total 383[N 1] (56)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Peter Harold Swan (born 28 September 1966) is an English former footballer who played as a defender and centre forward. In a sixteen-year professional career in the Football League he scored 62 goals in 445 games.[N 1]

He began his career with local side Leeds United in 1984, before he moved on to Hull City for £200,000 in 1989. Two years later he transferred to Port Vale for a fee of £300,000. He spent three years with Vale, before he was sold on to Plymouth Argyle for the same price. During his time at Vale Park he was selected in the PFA's Second Division team of the season in 1992–93, before he won promotion out of the division in 1993–94; he also won the TNT Tournament in 1992 and the Football League Trophy in 1993 with the club. However at Plymouth he failed to find success, and was instead transferred to Burnley for £200,000 after just twelve months. In 1997 he signed with Bury for £50,000, before he returned to Burnley as a free transfer signing the following year. In 2000 he joined York City, before he retired later in the year.

Early life[edit]

Born in Leeds, he grew up in a newsagents with his sisters Janice and Diane.[2] England and Great Britain international rugby league player Harry Wilson was a great-grandfather of his through his father's side.[2] Swan supported West Ham United as a boy.[4]

As a child he played alongside Don Goodman in a local youth side.[5] When Swan moved up into Belle Isle Middle School, staff member John Bateman spotted his talent and recommended him to Yorkshire Amateurs.[6] He later played for Leeds City Boys, the area's top junior side, where he once came up against John Beresford, who would become his close friend.[7]

In September 1980, Leeds United chief scout Geoff Saunders signed Swan up as a schoolboy on £25 a week.[8]

Playing career[edit]

Swan turned professional with Leeds United in August 1984,[9] having impressed those at the club so much as to earn comparisons to John Charles.[3] Gary Speed was his boot boy.[10] He was not utilised by Eddie Gray, but instead made his debut as a forward under Billy Bremner on 14 October 1985, in a Full Members Cup defeat to Manchester City at Maine Road.[11] He won his first Football League start on 1 January 1986, playing alongside Neil Aspin in a Second Division fixture against Oldham Athletic.[11] His first two senior goals came in a 4–0 win against Stoke City on 1 February, both were headers from John Stiles crosses.[12] He finished the 1984–85 season with three goals in sixteen games.[12]

Leeds reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1986–87, Swan played in the quarter-final victory over Wigan Athletic, but missed the semi-final defeat to Coventry City at Hillsborough with a knee injury.[13] After Leeds posted a fourth place finish in the league, his teammates then went on to lose to Charlton Athletic in the play-off final – Swan missed the game due to his knee injury – this would be as close as Swan would get to reaching the top-flight of English football.

For the 1987–88 season he shared a room with David Batty.[13] Swan also set up the first of Batty's four Leeds goals in a boxing day clash with Manchester City at Maine Road.[10] Though he was never consistently in the first eleven under Bremner, when new manager Howard Wilkinson was appointed in 1988–89 Swan fell out of the first team picture completely. He did not take to Wilkinson, and ended his first team chances at Leeds when he told Wilkinson's assistant, Mike Hennigan, that "I don't want to play for you... I just don't like him [Wilkinson]."[14] Swan handed in seven written transfer requests in the first three months, though was given two games before his request was granted.[15]

In March 1989, he was sold to Hull City for £200,000 (at the time a Hull record[16]). This move reunited him with manager Eddie Gray. Leeds spent the money they received from the sale of Swan on bringing Gordon Strachan in from Manchester United.[17] Leeds would go on to win the league title in 1991–92 under Wilkinson, with Strachan playing a large part in the success. However Swan and Hull did not find success; Gray used Swan in defence, and lost his job in the summer following a run of just one win in twelve games.[18]

New manager Colin Appleton used Swan in all four playing position within the first fourteen days of the 1989–90 campaign; his time in goal came when goalkeeper Iain Hesford was injured in a defeat to Bournemouth and had to leave the field at half-time.[19] Appleton failed to control his players, and with his team bottom of the division, he was sacked in October – much to the amusement of Swan and the team.[20] His replacement Stan Ternent managed to instil the discipline necessary to get the best performances out of Swan and the other 'big characters' at the club.[21] Ternent dragged Swan off just fifteen minutes into his first match as manager, but calmed the fury of his player when he explained the change was a tactical one.[22] Ternent then put Swan up front with Andy Payton, and the pair put in a 28 goal haul in the league between them – with Swan claiming eleven of these despite missing fifteen games with anterior cruciate ligament damage in his knee.[23] Following his recovery Swan played in defence, and the "Tigers" managed to save their second tier status and finish in mid-table.[24]

The 1990–91 campaign was a disaster, and Hull suffered relegation after finishing in last place. Swan also suffered, as he played the game with Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park despite suffering from a painful heel injury, only to require stitches to his eye socket following a kick to the face from Simon Coleman; despite all of this Ternent still insisted that Swan got back on the field for the final fifteen minutes of a 3–0 defeat.[25] Swan went public with his desire to leave the club in November 1990, and handed in a transfer request after Ternent refused to use him as a defender rather than an attacker. Following Ternent's dismissal new boss Terry Dolan agreed to let Swan go for a reasonable price, as he was aware that Swan was liable to "kick off a bit" if his requests were not granted, and Dolan was also in need of money to build a new team.[26] Whilst waiting for an offer he played Swan as a target man alongside strike partner Andy Payton; Swan scored thirteen goals and Payton scored twelve, though this was not enough to prevent the club from suffering relegation.[27]

In the summer four clubs chased Swan's signature in Sunderland, Bristol City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Port Vale.[28] Eddie Gray was now working Swan's agent, and he arranged a £300,000 move to John Rudge's Port Vale in August 1991, with a £52,500 signing on bonus for Swan in addition to his £650 a week wages and complimentary new car.[29] Swan later revealed in his autobiography that he only passed his medical by concealing all evidence of the cruciate injury to his right knee.[30] Rudge played Swan almost exclusively as a defender, and never had significant problems with his knee, but did have to issue many fines and 'bollockings' for the many practical jokes Swan would carry out.[31] After recovering from a foot injury, Rudge played Swan in attack in an FA Cup tie with Liverpool at Anfield, and Swan set up Martin Foyle for the "Valiants" equalising goal – despite his 'cross' being a miscued shot.[32] The foot injury then turned out to be a stress fracture, and Swan was sidelined until Christmas.[33] At the end of the season Vale were relegated into the third tier, and Swan was sent off for dissent in the defeat to Cambridge United that confirmed the club's relegation.[33] He added to his inevitable fine from the club by continuing his verbal attack on the referee after the game, and following an investigation by the FA he continued to land himself in hot water with an elaborate practical joke he played on the FA officials who came to speak to Rudge at Vale Park.[34]

A first team regular alongside defensive partners Neil Aspin and Dean Glover, in summer 1992 he helped the club to win the pre-season TNT Tournament. His performances in the 1992–93 season saw him awarded a place on the PFA Second Division team. He was man of the match in the League Trophy final victory over Stockport County – despite suffering from a double hernia and being hungover from a secret boozing session the night before.[35] The season finished on a negative note though, in the second half of the 1993 Second Division play-off final against West Bromwich Albion, with the game still goalless, Swan was sent off after bringing down Bob Taylor – who was through on goal. This proved to the turning point in the game as West Brom went on to win 3–0 to secure promotion at Vale's expense.[36] It also meant that he went down in history as only the third Englishman to be sent off at Wembley, after Kevin Keegan and Lee Dixon.[37]

Sidelined for a period, recovering from a hernia operation, Swan spent much of the 1993–94 pre-season making visits to the local children's hospital as he was moved by the patients he met there, particularly by a small girl called Lisa who died later that summer.[38] Once he made it back onto the training field he had a small fight with teammate Bernie Slaven, though rumours that spread through Stoke-on-Trent that this was due to him having an affair with Slaven's wife were false.[39] As Rudge built a solid team the club earned automatic promotion, with Swan being a vital contributor to this success. However by October Swan fancied a new club and a new challenge, and so handed in a transfer request.[40] In July 1994 he was sold on to Peter Shilton's Plymouth Argyle for a fee of £300,000, then a Plymouth record.[41] This was despite Vale's valuation of £350,000 and reported interest from Burnley, and from First Division club's Bolton Wanderers, Leicester City, Notts County, and West Brom.[42]

Swan's time on the South Coast was miserable: family dog Zee died; wife Bex had a difficult birth with baby George; and Swan became a hate figure with his teammates and the local population at large after the club suffered a poor start to the season.[43] Swan's problems then took a supernatural bent as the young couple became convinced that their Plymouth home was haunted – the family moved 260 miles back to the more friendly surroundings of Stoke.[44] He got off on the wrong foot with the Argyle fans after the local media pointed out that his goal saving tackle at Vale Park on 19 February 1994 had cost Plymouth promotion (Vale had finished three points ahead of Plymouth, who lost out to Burnley in the playoffs); Shilton also did little to help Swan's cause by appointing him as captain at the expense of fan's favourite Steve Castle.[45] His new teammates also resented the record-signing Northerner for intruding on their clique.[46] Rudge offered Shilton £150,000 to bring Swan back to Vale Park, but was refused; the local press asked Swan "If you're so desperate to leave, why did you come to Plymouth in the first place?"; his answer of "For the money" only served to further incense supporters.[47][48] Meanwhile he had off-the-field scuffles with teammates Alan Nicholls and Kevin Nugent.[49] Despite this, Swan's form on the pitch did improve towards the end of the season.[50] Shilton was replaced by Steve McCall, who was in turn replaced by caretaker-manager Russell Osman, though neither men were able to steer the club away from relegation at the end of 1994–95 – to Swan's delight.[51]

After the club withheld payment to Swan, the PFA put an embargo on new manager Neil Warnock, though only after Swan began to disrupt training sessions did Warnock arrange a move to Second Division Burnley for £200,000.[52] Swan stalled the move in anticipation for his missing wages from Plymouth, and continued to disrupt pre-season friendlies when Warnock called him up due to a developing injury crisis; eventually he negotiated a settlement of £25,000.[53] Burnley manager Jimmy Mullen got the sack after a poor start to 1995–96, and his replacement Adrian Heath was appointed in March 1996.

Swan had no respect for Heath and was not afraid to show it, and so Heath kept Swan's appearances to a minimum in 1996–97.[54] He offered loan moves to Third Division Hartlepool United and Hereford United, offers which Swan dismissed out of hand, and so Heath placed him on the transfer list.[55] The transfer took until August 1997, at which point he moved on to Bury for a fee of £50,000 – this reunited him with manager Stan Ternent. The move had been delayed after Heath left Burnley to be replaced by Chris Waddle, though Waddle quickly sanctioned the transfer.[56] Ternent moved Swan back to his role as a striker, despite the player having been used exclusively as a defender at his last few clubs.[57] He scored six goals in his first twelve games before hitting a fifteen game goal drought.[58] He helped the club to narrowly avoid relegation at the end of the season.

With Warnock replacing Ternent as Bury manager and Ternent moving on to manage Burnley, this signalled a return to Turf Moor for Swan. Ternent moved Swan back into defence, but could only give him eleven starts and six substitute appearances following a combination of suspensions, illness and injury.[59] A collision with Wycombe Wanderers' Jason Cousins on 20 February 1999 spelt the beginning of the end for Swan's career, as the result of a scan showed he had snapped the cruciate ligament in his right knee.[60]

Ternent allowed Swan to play on a month-to-month contract for the 1999–2000 season.[61] Swan rushed his nine-month recovery period down to seven months and was playing and living on painkillers.[62] He secretly used suppositories to stop himself from passing blood after his stomach began rejecting the painkillers.[62] Fighting a losing battle against injuries, in March 2000 Ternent allowed him to leave the club.[16] Before he took the decision, Swan and Ronnie Jepson began to polish the boots of legendary new signing Ian Wright – just to be able to say they had done so.[63] Five days after leaving Burnley he went to York City in the fourth tier.[16] This reunited him with former manager Terry Dolan, who offered him a contract until the end of the season.[64]

Dolan gave him a contract for the 2000–01 season and appointed him as York's captain despite the concerns over his knee.[65] Swan battled against his own body to play all the pre-season friendlies, including a clash with Manchester United and their star players of David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, and Paul Scholes.[66] He was sent off in the first game of the season after attempting to headbutt Chesterfield's Steve Blatherwick.[67] He captained the "Minstermen" for the first and only time at Bootham Crescent against Cheltenham Town, before he went in for some keyhole surgery to clean out his knee. The surgeon told Swan that "the mess in there is unbelievable... there's no cartilage, there are bits floating around everywhere and it's riddled with arthritis" and warned him that any further matches could see him confined to a wheelchair.[68] After a few weeks Swan accepted both Dolan's and the surgeon's advice and retired.[69]

Style of play[edit]

A tough player with a 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) frame, he prided himself on his ability to out-muscle either his marker or the player he was marking (depending on the position he was playing), though as a result he was sent-off ten times in his career and was occasionally criticised for using foul play.[8][70] His 'no nonsense' approach was criticised by footballing purists such as Dario Gradi,[71] as Swan's 'crunching tackles' could cause injuries to opposition players.[72]


Though he secretly played a game for Rothwell Town in 1988, he played amateur football for the first time since childhood with pub side New Wheel in 2000, and broke his nose in a game for the club.[73] He gained his A-license, which allowed him to coach in the professional game, and he took up coaching at Ossett Town.[74] He and John Beresford then set up an unsuccessful wooden flooring company called 'Major Oaks'.[75] The pair then developed a football training product called 'BallMax', Alex Ferguson used it in the Manchester United Academy, but this business also went nowhere.[75] Billy Jennings then took the pair on as football agents at Premier Management International for a twelve-month period.[76] Northampton Town manager Martin Wilkinson then took Swan on as a coach, but soon after Colin Calderwood took over as manager in 2003 Swan found himself again out of work.[77] Swan instead found success in the building trade, constructing a house in his expansive back garden.[78] He also found work as an 'expert witness' for Hull City's games at BBC Radio Humberside in 2003.[79] The next year he also began working as a pundit for the Hull Daily Mail,[80] and did occasional work for BBC Look North.[81]

In May 2009, Swan threw his hat into the ring for the vacant position of manager at Port Vale, speaking of his friendships with wealthy Valiants Robbie Williams and Phil Taylor.[82] As a player he was a "fully paid-up member of the drink culture", and on one of his many nights out he befriended Williams just before Take That hit the charts, and the pair became firm friends.[83]

Personal life[edit]

Peter Swan married wife Rebecca in 1989 following a four-year relationship.[84] The couple had two children: George (born 1994) and Harry (born 1997).[8] George joined the Leeds United A.F.C. Academy at the age of ten,[85] but left at age fourteen for the Manchester City F.C. Academy.[86]


In conjunction with Andrew Collomosse, Swan released an autobiography in 2008 entitled Swanny: Confessions of a Lower-League Legend, published by John Blake.[87] The foreword was written by Helen Chamberlain, presenter of Soccer AM.[88] He had become a running gag on the show in 2000 after every week the show's production staff persuaded their footballing guest to tell the audience their best mate in football was Peter Swan.[89]

Career statistics[edit]

Club League Season League FA Cup League Cup Other[a] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Leeds United Second Division 1984–85[90] 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Second Division 1985–86[90] 16 3 1 0 0 0 2 0 19 3
Second Division 1986–87[90] 7 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 9 0
Second Division 1987–88[90] 25 8 0 0 2 2 1 0 28 10
Second Division 1988–89[90] 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Hull City Second Division 1988–89[91] 11 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 11 1
Second Division 1989–90[92] 31 11 1 0 2 0 1 0 35 11
Second Division 1990–91[93] 38 12 1 0 3 1 0 0 42 13
Port Vale Second Division 1991–92[94] 33 3 0 0 4 0 2 0 39 3
Second Division 1992–93[95] 38 3 4 1 1 0 8 1 51 5
Second Division 1993–94[96] 40 0 5 0 1 0 2 0 48 0
Plymouth Argyle Second Division 1994–95[96] 27 2 2 0 2 1 0 0 31 3
Burnley Second Division 1995–96[97] 32 5 1 0 2 0 4 0 39 5
Second Division 1996–97[98] 17 2 2 0 0 0 2 0 21 2
Bury First Division 1997–98[96] 37 6 1 0 2 0 0 0 40 6
Burnley Second Division 1998–99[99] 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 17 0
Second Division 1999–2000[100] 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
York City Third Division 1999–2000[101] 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 0
Third Division 2000–01[102] 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Total 383 56 20 1 20 4 22 1 445[N 1] 62
a. ^ Includes Full Members Cup, Football League Trophy and play-off appearances.


with Port Vale


  1. ^ a b c d An error at Soccerbase has meant that Swan's statistics at Burnley between August 1995 and August 1997 [49 league apps, 7 goals; 3 FA Cup apps; 2 League Cup apps; and 6 other apps] are duplicated in the statistics listed for his second spell at the club from August 1998 to March 2000. This error is duplicated in Swan's autobiography, which summarises his career as "Sixteen years, 7 clubs and 503 senior games..."[3]


  1. ^ Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 284. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0. 
  2. ^ a b c Swan 2008, p. 1
  3. ^ a b c Swan 2008, p. XVII
  4. ^ Swan 2008, p. 11
  5. ^ Swan 2008, p. 6
  6. ^ Swan 2008, p. 8
  7. ^ Swan 2008, p. 10
  8. ^ a b c Swan 2008, p. XXII
  9. ^ Swan 2008, p. 34
  10. ^ a b Swan 2008, p. 55
  11. ^ a b Swan 2008, p. 49
  12. ^ a b Swan 2008, p. 50
  13. ^ a b Swan 2008, p. 53
  14. ^ Swan 2008, p. 62
  15. ^ Swan 2008, p. 63
  16. ^ a b c "Peter Swan". Retrieved 18 May 2009. 
  17. ^ Swan 2008, p. 65
  18. ^ Swan 2008, p. 68
  19. ^ Swan 2008, p. 70
  20. ^ Swan 2008, p. 72
  21. ^ Swan 2008, p. 73
  22. ^ Swan 2008, p. 74
  23. ^ Swan 2008, p. 75
  24. ^ Swan 2008, p. 76
  25. ^ Swan 2008, p. 85
  26. ^ Swan 2008, p. 89
  27. ^ Swan 2008, p. 90
  28. ^ Swan 2008, p. 93
  29. ^ Swan 2008, p. 94
  30. ^ Swan 2008, p. 96
  31. ^ Swan 2008, p. 108
  32. ^ Swan 2008, p. 110
  33. ^ a b Swan 2008, p. 111
  34. ^ Swan 2008, p. 112
  35. ^ Swan 2008, p. 137
  36. ^ McOwan, Gavin (2002). The Essential History of West Bromwich Albion. Headline. pp. 158–159. ISBN 0-7553-1146-9. 
  37. ^ Swan 2008, p. 140
  38. ^ Swan 2008, p. 148
  39. ^ Swan 2008, p. 150
  40. ^ Swan 2008, p. 155
  41. ^ "Fallon completes Plymouth switch". BBC Sport. 19 January 2007. Retrieved 18 May 2009. 
  42. ^ Swan 2008, p. 156
  43. ^ Swan 2008, p. 163
  44. ^ Swan 2008, p. 166
  45. ^ Swan 2008, p. 171
  46. ^ Swan 2008, p. 173
  47. ^ Swan 2008, p. 174
  48. ^ "Swan sails into Argyle in frank autobiography". 10 October 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2011. 
  49. ^ Swan 2008, p. 175
  50. ^ "Peter Swan". Retrieved 3 September 2011. 
  51. ^ Swan 2008, p. 180
  52. ^ Swan 2008, p. 181
  53. ^ Swan 2008, p. 184
  54. ^ Swan 2008, p. 196
  55. ^ Swan 2008, p. 197
  56. ^ Swan 2008, p. 200
  57. ^ Swan 2008, p. 203
  58. ^ Swan 2008, p. 209
  59. ^ Swan 2008, p. 219
  60. ^ Swan 2008, p. 221
  61. ^ Swan 2008, p. 223
  62. ^ a b Swan 2008, p. 225
  63. ^ Swan 2008, p. 228
  64. ^ Swan 2008, p. 230
  65. ^ "Injury forces Swan to quit". BBC Sport. 15 November 2000. Retrieved 18 May 2009. 
  66. ^ Swan 2008, p. 236
  67. ^ Swan 2008, p. 237
  68. ^ Swan 2008, p. 238
  69. ^ Swan 2008, p. 239
  70. ^ Nixon, Alan (8 September 1997). "Blazing Bury on the up.". The Mirror. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  71. ^ Ashworth, Andy. "Peter Swan". Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  72. ^ "Dele Fitness in Question". The Guardian. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  73. ^ Swan 2008, p. 259
  74. ^ Swan 2008, p. 261
  75. ^ a b Swan 2008, p. 263
  76. ^ Swan 2008, p. 264
  77. ^ Swan 2008, p. 265
  78. ^ Swan 2008, p. 270
  79. ^ Swan 2008, p. XXIII
  80. ^ "HULL CITY: No need to be rude Nigel, says Swanny (VIDEO)". Hull Daily Mail. 25 October 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2010. 
  81. ^ Swan 2008, p. 273
  82. ^ "Hopeful Swan talks up Robbie link". BBC Sport. 6 May 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2009. 
  83. ^ Swan 2008, p. XIX
  84. ^ Swan 2008, p. 37
  85. ^ Swan 2008, p. XXI
  86. ^ "Swan, 14, left Leeds United because of 'coaching decline'". The Yorkshire Post. 10 September 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  87. ^ "True confessions of the footballer who was always game for a laugh". The Yorkshire Post. 7 October 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2011. 
  88. ^ Swan 2008, p. XV
  89. ^ Swan 2008, p. 232
  90. ^ a b c d e "Loiners of Leeds". WAFLL. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  91. ^ Peterson, Mike (1999). The Definitive Hull City A.F.C. : A statistical history to 1999. Tony Brown. p. 92. ISBN 1-899468-13-7. 
  92. ^ Peterson. The Definitive Hull City A.F.C. : A statistical history to 1999. p. 93. 
  93. ^ Peterson. The Definitive Hull City A.F.C. : A statistical history to 1999. p. 94. 
  94. ^ Kent, Jeff (1993). The Port Vale Record 1879–1993. Witan Books. p. 233. ISBN 0-9508981-9-8. 
  95. ^ Kent, Jeff (1993). The Port Vale Record 1879–1993. Witan Books. p. 235. ISBN 0-9508981-9-8. 
  96. ^ a b c Peter Swan career stats at Soccerbase
  97. ^ Simpson 2007, p. 439
  98. ^ Simpson 2007, p. 443
  99. ^ Simpson 2007, p. 451
  100. ^ Simpson 2007, p. 455
  101. ^ "Games played by Peter Swan in 1999/2000". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  102. ^ "Games played by Peter Swan in 2000/2001". Soccerbase. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 

External links[edit]