(Photo: Getty Images)
By Jon Newcombe
CLUB record try-scorer Tony Swift admits he was as puzzled as anyone when he found out fellow Bath legend Matt Banahan was leaving the club for Gloucester this summer.
Banahan bowed out in the blue, black and white with a hat-trick in last week’s rout of London Irish, to bring up a century of tries in his 264th and final game for the club.
Swift, who touched down 161 times in 242 following his arrival at the Rec from Swansea in the mid-80s, said: “He has scored a lot of tries in what is quite a difficult environment and has done a cracking job over a long period of time.
“Other than just finishing off tries, he has been a focal point for much of Bath’s attacking play. His contribution to the club has been enormous.
“When you look at fellow wingers you wonder what it would be like to play against them, and if I’d have ever faced Matt I’d have known I’d be in for one hell of a game, he is a real handful.”
Swift likens Banahan’s departure, reputedly because Bath offered only the same money he had been on for the last five years, to the time when Mike Tindall made the shock move up the A46.
“I thought Matt would have been there until the end of his career,” he added. “From what I have seen, his skills don’t appear to be diminishing. It’s like when Tindall went and if you go back to the Bath days when we were the best club in the country, the first thing you did was keep your best players.
“Very few who could justify a place in the squad chose to leave, the only person I recall doing that was Simon Halliday who moved to Harlequins to chase a career in the City.
“So I don’t know what the story is with Matt or why it has happened. It is a bit confusing.”