Rugged full back Steve Swales joined Hull City in December 1998 as newly appointed manager Warren Joyce assembled a squad that could lift the club clear of the foot of the fourth tier, a debacle that Joyce inherited from previous boss Mark Hateley. Joyce’s decision to assemble players that would create an aggressive, “let’s prove them wrong” team spirit turned out to be a masterstroke and Swales was an important part of the amazing turnaround experience in the early weeks of 1999, having been sidelined by previous club Reading. Initially playing at left back though later switching to the right, Swales took a few weeks to find his feet but was soon a strong presence in the City defence, adopting an attitude that no player would pass with either the ball or his shins intact. He played his part, alongside more notable ex-Tigers Jon Whitney and Justin Whittle, in tighening City’s defence and relegation out of the Football League was avoided.
Swales started the following 1999/00 season in possession of the right back position but made way in September 1999 for new signing Steve Harper. Swales returned to the first team in December 1999 and made occasional appearances during the rest of the season, even filling in as a midfielder in the closing weeks under new manager Brian Little. Little persisted with Swales in midfield at the start of the 2000/01 season and he played a supporting role for the rest of the season to first choice midfielders Theo Whitmore and Lee Philpott. The image of an opposition midfielder imagining he would have an afternoon up against Jamaican artist Whitmore, only to end up spending 90 minutes having his calves raked by Swales, must have posed quite a contrast. Despite filling in throughout the season Swales was released at the end of his contract in the 2001 close season.
Stephen Colin Swales was born in Whitby on the Yorkshire Coast and made his way through the ranks a few miles south at Football League side Scarborough, who had been elevated to the senior leagues as Swales came through the youth team setup. He was handed his debut in March 1992 but it wasn’t until September 1993 that Swales held down a regular first team place for Scarborough. After missing the last two months of the 1993/94 season Steve returned to action in October 1994 and scored his first senior goal in February 1995 against Scunthorpe United. By the summer of 1995 he was attracting the attention of clubs in loftier divisions than Scarborough and he left having scored once in 62 senior appearances.
In July 1995 Swales joined League Division 1 side Reading for a £70,000 fee, but he was unable to hold down a first team place during his first season and made only 11 appearances. That pattern was repeated the following season and it took until the 1997/98 season under new manager Terry Bullivant for Swales to hold down a first team place for the Royals – he scored his only Reading goal on the opening day of the season at Bury. While 1997/98 was a good season for Steve it was a disaster for Reading who were relegated to the third tier and Swales was frozen out by new manager Tommy Burns at the start of the 1998/99 season, ahead of his December 1998 transfer to the Tigers – he had scored one goal in 56 appearances for Royals.
Swales spent the 2001/02 season at Halifax Town, scoring one goal against Exeter in 27 appearances as the Shaymen finished bottom of League Division 3 and dropped out of the Football League. This bought an end to Swales’ professional career and he returned to the East Coast, spending five seasons playing for Whitby Town, Bridlngton Town (twice) and Pickering Town. In 2021 he set up a kids’ football coaching facility in his hometown of Whitby along with former Hartlepool defender Andy Toman.
Date/Place of Birth: 26 December 1973, Whitby
Hull City First Game: 12 December 1998, Torquay United A (League Division 3), 24 years, 351 days old
Hull City Final Game: 13 March 2001, Plymouth Argyle A (League Division 3), 27 years, 77 days old
Scarborough (1991-1995), Reading (1995-1998), Hull City (1998-2001), Halifax Town (2001-2002), Whitby Town (2002-2003), Bridlington Town (2003-2004), Pickering Town (2004-2005), Bridlington Town (2005-2007)
Hull City Record
Career: 77 apps, 0 goalsSteve Swales
|1998/99||20 (2)||0||-||-||-||-||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|1999/00||17 (3)||0||-||-||2 (1)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|2000/01||20 (6)||0||1 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|