Visitors to the Liberty Stadium today were greeted by the unusual site of arguably the Swans greatest ever player decked out in rugby gear, as one of Swansea's biggest sporting heroes displayed support for the Ospreys.
Ivor Allchurch, known as ‘The Golden Boy’ during an illustrious footballing career that saw him represent Swansea Town, Newcastle United and Cardiff City, as well as becoming Wales’ record goal-scorer and most capped player, playing at the World Cup in 1958 and scoring a goal against Hungary that was voted in the 100 top World Cup goals of all time.
Awarded an MBE in recognition of his contribution to football in 1967 and voted into the Football League 100 greatest players, he passed away in 1997, aged 67. Hailing from the Plasmarl area, just a goal-kick away from the Liberty Stadium, his contribution to his hometown club for whom he scored 164 goals in 445 league games was recognised in the form of a life-size statue outside the Liberty Stadium, home of both the Swans and the Ospreys.
Now, his family have shown their support for the region, with the landmark statue of Ivor this week decked out in Ospreys colours as preparations for the RaboDirect PRO12 game against the Scarlets on November 5th continue.
Esme, his widow, said that her husband would have been a proud Ospreylian:
“Ivor was extremely proud of his roots, he loved the city, and he wanted all sporting teams from Swansea to do well” she said.
“He wasn’t just a football fan, he was a fan of all sports and always looked out for the All Whites results. He would have been proud to support the Ospreys and he would have been delighted to show his support for the region in anyway he could, which is why he would have been delighted to get behind the team and would have loved something like this.
“Hopefully, this sign of support will help the Ospreys towards a win over their big local rivals next week.”
The statue has been decked out in an Ospreys jersey and mask, greeting all visitors to the stadium alongside the approach road, just outside the ticket office. The sight of Ivor, known around the world as one of Britain’s classiest footballer’s ever, decked out in rugby gear, has certainly caused a stir among Swans and Ospreys fans alike.
One of those to have been taken aback by the sight is Nigel Screen of Manselton, a season-ticket holder for both teams at the Liberty, and he said:
“I couldn’t quite work out what I was seeing at first, but when it sunk in, I thought it was great. Ivor is not just a Swansea legend, he is an all-time footballing great right around the UK. I’ve no doubt that as a proud Swansea Jack, he would have been a proud Ospreylian as well, and so it’s a nice touch to see him in Ospreys colours. Like me, there are plenty of people who support both teams, and I know that the players from both sides support each other, so it’s brilliant. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to see Shane Williams in a Swans shirt!”
With the build up to the big game ongoing, Ospreys bosses are encouraging their fans to show their support for the team ahead of the fixture, and display the Ospreys colours wherever they can. Managing Director, Roger Blyth, explained:
“Ivor Allchurch needs no introduction to any sports fan, not just in Swansea or Wales, but across the UK. He was proud of his roots, and as Esme has explained, would have been a proud Ospreylian. His statue is real landmark and I know that people who have seen him blacked out in Ospreys colours thing it’s a really nice touch and a sign of support from his family.
“Now, we want supporters to show their support, and show that they are proud Ospreylians, by displaying their true colours. We want to blackout the Liberty Stadium for the Scarlets game, and to start that off, fans can post their pictures and videos of support at our Facebook page, all of which will be shown to the players ahead of the game.
“Wherever they are, far or near, it would be great to see fans blacking out themselves, or significant landmarks, so that people around the world can see what the Ospreys are all about.”
To post your videos and photographs, look for Ospreys Rugby on Facebook, and the players will get to see them ahead of the Scarlets game.
Tickets for the match are on sale at the Liberty Stadium Ticket Office, online at www.ospreysrugby.com/buytickets and via the Ticket Hotline on 0844 8156 665