The Vetch Field, situated in Swansea, Wales, served as a football stadium and was the cherished home of Swansea City until the club relocated to the newly constructed Liberty Stadium in 2005. Originating in 1912, the venue initially accommodated roughly 12,000 attendees, but at its peak, it could host upwards of 30,000 spectators.
Beyond hosting the Swans, the Vetch was also a significant site for the Wales national football team, witnessing 18 international matches between 1921 and 1988. Furthermore, the stadium welcomed various other sports, including eight rugby league matches from 1990 to 1999. In 1960, local talent Brian Curvis clinched the Commonwealth (British Empire) Welterweight title by defeating Australian boxer George Barnes at the Vetch.
Apart from sports, the Vetch also transformed into a lively music venue, accommodating performances by The Who in 1976 and Stevie Wonder in 1984.
The Vetch bid its final farewell to the Football League with a victorious 1-0 match for Swansea against Shrewsbury Town on April 30, 2005. Its last football game, the 2005 FAW Premier Cup final, witnessed Swansea’s 2-1 triumph over Wrexham.
Even today, the Vetch Field remains a source of nostalgia for many Swansea fans, who often recall its more vibrant and authentic atmosphere in comparison to the Liberty Stadium.
Named after the vetch, a type of legume (not a cabbage, as commonly mistaken in much of south Wales), which grew on its grounds back then, the site was initially owned by the Swansea Gaslight Company in 1912. This was the same time when a professional football team was established in the town. The location of the site was advantageous, and as it was deemed surplus by the Gas Company, the club seized the opportunity to make it their home. In its early days, the surface was comprised of compacted coal cinder, necessitating players to don knee pads during the first football season.
Over its 93-year existence, the Vetch underwent numerous transformations, leading up to its final moments hosting the FAW Premier Cup Final against Wrexham. Post-match, eager fans stripped the ground of seats, turf, advertising hoardings, and any other memorabilia they could lay their hands on. The demolition process is currently underway as the council looks to secure permission for new construction on the site. Entrances have been barricaded, and the pitch’s turf has been uprooted. Interestingly, the 2004-05 season marked the first time in 93 years that the Vetch had the highest average attendance in its division.
On April 30, 2005, Adrian Forbes scored the last league goal at the Vetch during Swansea’s 1-0 victory over Shrewsbury Town. The final goal at the Vetch was scored by Andy Robinson, securing a 2-1 win over Wrexham.
On May 23, 2009, the Vetch Field was listed for sale, nearly four years after it was replaced by the Liberty Stadium.
Initially, there were proposals to utilize the Vetch Field site for constructing a community center and housing development, but these plans had not yet been set in motion. The envisioned project involved a housing development comprising 120 units and a designated play area. The housing development was designed to incorporate homes of varying heights, including two, three, and four-story structures. Furthermore, the street layout was planned to emulate the concept of “home zones,” inspired by communities in the Netherlands, where vehicle speeds would be limited to ensure safety. Portions of the Vetch Field were also considered for incorporation into the overall development, with a public display planned for the former center spot of the old stadium.
Swansea Council aimed to solicit tenders for the development work by the autumn of 2009, with the intention of selecting a preferred developer by the following year. In the meantime, significant memorabilia from the Vetch Field, such as the stadium clock, were relocated to Swansea Museum.
The demolition of the ground commenced on January 31, 2011, with an estimated duration of four to six months for completion. The renowned North Bank was the initial stand to undergo dismantling.