Swansea City finally reached the First Division in 1981. The fans at the promotion game in Preston were joined by thousands more glued to their radios, waiting by the telephone or watching the results on TV.
The first ever game in the top flight of the Football League followed in August 1981. A Bob Latchford hat-trick helped the team to a 5-1 win over Leeds. The Swans were never out of the top 6, and even challenged for the title. Despite their impressive first season, the Swans went back down to Division 2 the following year.
Local businessman Doug Sharpe became the new Chairman. Toshack resigned, then came back, then got sacked. The instability affected results and the Swans were soon relegated to Division 3.
In December 1985 the club was put into receivership. A big push by various groups of fans raised money and investment to save the club. Individuals made real sacrifices, giving up bonds, shares, and money. Even Manchester United played a friendly match which raised £45,000. By January 1986 things had stabilised allowing the court order to be rescinded.
During the financial struggles the Swans were, almost inevitably, relegated to Division 4. The decade ended with renewed optimism amongst fans, when manager Terry Yorath secured promotion to Division 3 via the playoffs.