Chris Church eager for derby win in Swansea City’s first domestic cup final in two years

When Chris Church stepped up as Swansea City head coach in October last year, there was a clear change to when he previously took the role in 2021, not least their move to semi-professional status.

“Going semi-professional has been the biggest change since the last time I took the job,” Church says. “There’s a lot more demand on the players, there’s a lot more demand on the club; not saying there wasn’t before, but the club are bringing more investment into the women’s team and players, staff, and fans alike want a lot more.”

Also, in his last spell at the club, Church took the club to Genero Adran Premier and Genero Adran Trophy success. But, remarkably, that Genero Adran Trophy victory at Dragon Park in 2022 was the last time the Swans reached a domestic cup final.

Penalty heartbreak and surprise defeats over the last two years have scuppered Swansea’s multiple hopes of getting to a final, but Church stressed that every team goes through periods of difficulty, no matter how good they are.

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“All teams go through periods of transition. Sustaining constant success these days is very hard. Cardiff City are on a bit of a run doing it, but there may be a time where that might not happen for them.

“Cardiff Met were on the same trajectory, and it’s not happened for them this season. Clubs go through these periods, and you see it throughout professional sports. Yes, it’s weird not having been in a final for a while, but it will happen again, and it has happened again.”

Now, finally back in a final, Church and his team will face off against arch-rivals Cardiff City in Sunday’s Genero Adran Trophy showpiece.

The two have already played five times this season, with the Bluebirds having the upper hand with three wins. Church is fully aware of how difficult Iain Darbyshire’s side are going to be but believes the togetherness of his squad can take them a long way.

“We’re expecting a tough test as always from Cardiff City. We’ve had plenty of battles against them this season, and I expect Sunday to be no different. It’s a derby, players want to be part of that environment, they want to test themselves against the best, and if you want to win a trophy, you’ve got to test yourselves.

“We’re a good squad and we’ve always known that we have the quality to beat them, and they’ve also shown they’ve got the quality to beat us. In any derby game, you need a little bit of luck to go your way, but I think our togetherness and drive will help.

“The players have always had that togetherness this season, when things haven’t gone our way, like when they beat us 4-0, we came back and beat them 2-0 at our place. We’re always there to set the record straight regardless of what’s happened previously.”

A big equaliser Church could have is the fact that it is a South Wales Derby final. It goes without saying that a derby for a trophy on the line is mouthwatering, and controlling emotions on the day will be the big factor.

“No one wants to lose a derby. That’s one thing your told constantly is to not lose any derby. As a Swansea City player, manager, fan, you don’t want to lose to Cardiff City, and it’s vice versa too. The game means so much to both sets of players and fans. It does add an extra bit of tension, but that can also big a good thing and motivate the players in the right way.”

For now, Swansea are very happy to be back competing for a domestic trophy once again, and Church will urge his players to cherish every minute, because no one knows when they’ll be back there again.

“My message is to go out there and enjoy the game and enjoy the occasion. It’s been a long season, we’ve had our battles, and you’ve got to enjoy games like this because you don’t know how long it will be until you get back there. You hope they come around again quickly, but you’ve also got to live in the moment and give everything you’ve got.”

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