Tuesday, October 30, 2007

On Yer Bike!

Don't know what's the story here? I bet loads of us loved our Choppers where we were kids.

http://tinyurl.com/35mzyo

Thanks & Congrats Cardiff City & Peter Ridsdale



At last, Cardiff City sign me.
The fee not much but, hey, it's more
than they paid Fowler or Hasselbaink!



While 5,600 Bluebirds (plus the extras in the Liverpool sections) head for shellsuit and tache land tomorrow night, the game being played on a Wednesday meant that Friday's night Championship fixture at Blackpool was shelved.

The way City are performing in the league right now, maybe some of us are grateful for the break. We can also watch the Joe Calzaghe fight instead for some long overdue atmosphere.

However it caused mayhem for those of us with advanced plans to go to Blackpool including travel and hotel reservations which had to be made in advance given it was also last weekend of the illuminations. In my case, it left with a £200 hole in my pocket for pre-booked non-refundable advance train fares.

The hotel cancelled their charges (we have stayed with them before and will again) but to the rescue came Cardiff City and Peter Ridsdale with the magnificent gesture to refund all out of pocket costs as a result of the Blackpool postponement. It wasn't the fans fault for this problem but it wasn't the club's either and I can't think of any other who would help out like this. The club will, in turn, try to get reimbursement from the Football League but decided to refunds supporters regardless of whether this happens or not.

Today came my refund and I cannot thank Cardiff City enough for their assistance and outstanding gesture.

I salute you CCFC and Mr Ridsdale




Monday, October 29, 2007

Fowler's concentrating on a performance for City

Now there's a novelty

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/cardiff_city/7067890.stm

DAVE JONES - where has it gone wrong?

If I could sum up Cardiff City's and Dave Jones' problems in just 3 words, they would have to be complacency, arrogance and non-accomplishment.

The charge sheet is filling but chief crimes have to be;

The crass decision to let Neil Alexander go without any better replacement signed and sealed. Forde, Turnbull, Oakes, Schmeicel and still we wait for someone permanent.

The self-congratulatory smugness of Jones building City's "best ever squad" without "spending money" while our results tell their own story.

Continually telling us how far we've come and our remarkable progress when we've actually come nowhere at all. Lennie Lawrence left us a mid-table side, Dave Jones has provided exactly the same every year in 3 years save the delights of Koumas and Chopra and that superb start to last season.

The club's foolishness by giving Dave Jones two improved contracts and shares over the past year while we've endured relegation form and Cardiff City's worst finish to a season in their entire history - and given our history, that takes some doing.

Always finding someone or something else to blame and always covering his own backside. It's strikers one week, defence the next. Defence are now his regular target yet these are the players he brought us and he selects nearly the same faces every week no matter what to the extent that you suspect 5 or 6 players have their names pre-printed on his team sheets. That home record is disgraceful but he's never shown any humility about it.

Never admitting his own mistakes such as dropping Parry last weekend (inconsistent but our best player in midweek) whilst forever standing by players like Capaldi, McPhail and Fowler.

The incredible number of inadequate signings - Byrne, Forde, Feeney, Campbell, Capaldi, Redan, Turnbull, Flood (the list goes on).

I'd wish Jones can turn this around - as I believe he's a good manager - but ever since he apparently was offered but declined the job at West Brom last season, he's been a very different man in my opinion. You can pinpoint his moans and attitude, City's decline all coming at the same time.

And then there were three ... Mike Hall leaves City's Board

Citing a conflict of interest with the legal case about to be tested from which, win or lose, sees his business interests covered.

More details here:
http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11688_2834623,00.html

Saturday, October 27, 2007

CHAMPIONSHIP: CARDIFF CITY 1 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 1

SATURDAY OCTOBER 27th
CHAMPIONSHIP - Game 13/46
at NINIAN PARK


CARDIFF CITY (1) 1
McPhail 37

SCUNTHORPE (0) 1
Goodwin 55




Some rare action
during the yawn-athon

When The Buzzcocks wrote the lyrics for Boredom, they must have had Dave Jones' Cardiff City in mind with the lines;
You see there's nothing behind me
I'm already a has-been
My future ain't what it was
Well I think I know the words that I mean
Boredom Boredom

An afternoon of apathetic entertainment, rightly described as Novocain football by some afterwards, saw Cardiff City numb and succumb to a 1-1 draw against an organised, spirited but relatively mediocre Scunthorpe side who left South Wales with a comfortable point. Had Scunnie decided to show any ambition, it may well have been all three but that point was clearly all they wanted.

On a day when Dave Jones and his self-labelled "best ever City squad" were on trial, they collectively let themselves and us down yet again. Boos lasting 15 seconds or so at final whistle were largely comparable to City's best moments in the tedious encounter..

The most depressing aspect is not so much that City's performance suggesting that they didn't even appear to be motivated enough to either answer their critics or fight for their manager but the attitude of our fans. fans. We have now become so accustomed to this - 5 points out of 21 this season, just a solitary home league win in 8 months, the life and passion is being sucked out of us.

It was like a funeral parlour, both inside and walking away, I've rarely known us become so disinterested and bored that we can't even get angry by this shocking state of affairs. Only a relative handful can be arsed to scream out their frustrations. Our decline was such that it was entirely predictable this would be a dour, boring grind. A few of us had settled in the pub and had got to the point of debating whether to simply stay there for the afternoon but with tickets already in our pockets, we made the sacrifice. We're all committed diehards, the mere fact we were discussing not bothering going to the game underlines what a sorry mess it all is right now.

Where the hell do we go from here? For all his faults and mistakes made, I'd personally like to see Dave Jones turn this around but the signs are that the tide has turned and it is not in his capabilities to do so. Is it now just really a case of how much more of pain we must endure before drastic action is taken?, After giving DJ not one, but two, improved contracts and shares in the last year, how much does City's financial outlook have a bearing on things?

It's no game to write home about and it's agony to relive the experience but here goes.

You could have argued for Dave Jones to seriously have changed over half the team - and, after all, if he has two players in every position and our "best ever"?(!) squad, then why not? However he changed just 3. Loanee goalkeeper Kasper Schmeicel came in for Michael Oakes, Roger Johnson replaced the completely out of sorts Glen Loovens and Trevor Sinclair replaced Paul Parry, one of our better performers in midweek. His decision (or was a lack of a decision?) to continue with Tony Capaldi, the misfiring central midfield and Robbie Fowler was either brave or foolish but certainly not rewarded and none really repaid his faith, even if McPhail shocked the world by scoring.

You'd never have believed a City side would ever feature the names Schmeicel, Fowler and Hasslebaink would you? But here we were with Schmeicel Jr, McNaughton-Purse-Johnson-Capaldi, Sinclair-Rae-McPhail-Ledley, Fowler-Hasselbaink. Subs were Oakes, Loovens, Parry, Thompson, Whittingham.

Scunthorpe shocked everyone by coming up as League One champions, especially in a division that contained arguably bigger and better squads, which is huge testimony to their work. Having sold the strikeforce which essentially helped bring them here in Andy Keogh (now at Wolves) and Billy Sharp (now at Sheffield United) and having what must be the smallest squad in the Championship, many predicted a huge struggle for them but they arrived at Ninian Park in 9th and 5 points ahead of City giving them all the bragging rights. It puts Dave Jones' and our squad's efforts to shame.

Their side featured those household names of Murphy, Crosby-Butler-Byrne-Youga, Taylor-Cork-Goodwin,Hurst, Hayes-Paterson. Only Kevan Hurst at £200k cost money, other than keeper Joe Murphy, not one of them had previous history of playing at this level. You have to salute them. Maybe the most interesting name was teenager Jack Cork on loan from Chelsea and he's the son of ex-City manager Alan Cork.

To a man, the expectation had to be that City came out 'all guns blazing' to show they're better than the criticisms and vitriol aimed their way. You;d also think they'd be desperate to perform for their under siege manager. What we got was the exact opposite,

Unable to put two passes together, unwilling to show movement, restricted to ball into the air or space nonsense, no communication. Cardiff were as dull and mild as the weather. Bluebirds fans were rendered speechless, the game watched in near silence. And who could blame anyone? The only "shot" at goal and the only work Scunnie;s keeper had to the first half hour came from a punt from our goalkeeper Kasper Schmeicel. It took 20 minutes to have any shot, a rubbish effort from Rae, 25 minutes to win a corner and McPhail's goal on 37 minutes was our only true effort at goal all half. Little wonder I'd resorted to reading The Echo instead to pass the time, there was nothing on the pitch to watch or admire. (Yep, reduced crowd but programmes still sold out before kick-off!)

Until City's goal, the only shot in anger all game had been a poor Roger Johnson touch giving Hayes a free shot at goal, his effort was great and so were Schmeicel's reflexes in tipping over. It was, in fact, Schmeicel who gave us the main cheers, not just because he was one of the very few players who looked fired up and enthusiastic although even he got dragged down long before the end. Nowhere near as big as his illustrious father, he looked the part by making good decisions, always being alert and looking sharp and, boy, can he kick a ball. The likes of Chopra could have dined on his 70 - 80 yard punts without difficulty, Fowler and JFH won't.

The goal was the only other moment to get excited about all half. Both a surprise and a shock as it came from STEVE McPHAIL, not so much Goal of the Season but his Goal FOR the season. This is a week when Neil Alexander saved two penalties, it shows that miracles still happen occasionally.

It came from a move down the right, Hasselbaink took the ball at the by-line just inside the area, twisted and out a ball across the box where McPHAIL was further man forward and deep in the penalty area (honestly, no lies!) to flick a boot out high and divert it across a shocked Murphy from 8 yards. City fans didn't know whether to laugh or cry but you could feel the stands and terraces sway for a moment as 11,000 of us shook our heads in disbelief.

Our only other moments of a dreadful half were a couple of blocked JFH efforts and Robbie (I forgot he was on the pitch) Fowler nodding a corner well over in added time but, by that point, I'd already disappeared to the bar for solace and was watching on the screen.

Half-time: CITY 1 SCUNTHORPE 0

The Iron made a start of 2nd half sub with keeper Murphy replaced by Josh Lillis for what was his football league debut. Visibly small for a keeper and making a nervy start, I thought he'd be tested from the off but we're a charity case these days and didn't bother, Rae had our only early effort, a wild hit into the Grange End.

On 52 minutes, an enforced sub as Paul Parry replaced Kevin McNaughton who signalled to come off. More hamstring troubles? Trevor Sinclair dropped to right back. Three minutes later, Scunthorpe did the inevitable and equalised and, yet again, our defending was pitiful.

There didn't look anything on as Hurst advanced down Sinclair's side and hit what was nothing more than a speculative pass across the edge of the box but Gavin Rae failed to stick a boot out when in front of him and then GOODWIN took the ball far side, controlled and then hit an angled shot across Schmeicel. Where was Tony Capaldi? It also looked a shot you'd expect a goalkeeper to save but I'll have to see it on tv. Their 150 or so fans in the 11,850 went suitably wild.

The difference in attitude and togetherness between the team so plainly obvious when every visiting player, bar their keeper, ran to the bottom corner of Bob Bank and Canton Stand to congratulate the scorer. As was a minute's stoppage later in the game for injury which saw Scunnie players get in groups of 2's and 3's, talking away, pointing around the field. Cardiff's stood alone the entire time, not one of them with a single word to say to any other. Our lot are too busy feeling sorry for themselves. That surely includes our manager too. I don't believe he spoke to any player all game, shouted to the pitch and barely made any appearance in the technical area. He's infamous for propping himself nonchalantly against the dugout but, today, he was mostly retreated well inside it.

It's now beyond a joke. That's 7 times in the last 7 games that City have had the lead (including twice against Preston) but failed to hold onto it. 13 games, 1 clean sheet - Neil Alexander gave us 11 in 37 games last season until Jones arrogantly tossed him aside.

Scunthorpe were more than happy to leave with that result and found it quite easy to hold out for even if Cardiff at least showed a bit more interest, but not too much more, for the final 30 minutes. More a slog than an onslaught. Yet again, Robbie Fowler was out of steam well before the hour mark and removed at that point. As remarked by others, we've fallen a long way when sub replacement Steven Thompson is now the quickest forward at the club.

Joe Ledley was denied however by a terrific save with 20 to go meeting a floated Parry ball at the far post, his downward header was back across goal but Lillis did very well not just to block but deny anyone a follow up opportunity ... as if our players would be alert enough for that. His only other test was a McPhail 20 yarder, that shot and his goal somehow seeing him awarded Man of the Match by sponsors, South Wales Echo. Other than that, he was again no influence on the game at any time. I bet The Echo can still hear the derision when that was announced.

Jimmy tried some piledrivers, all blocked, Thommo and Parry brought routine saves from Lillis and City were denied again 10 minutes from time when Darren Purse's header from a corner was nodded off the line and over by Taylor. That's the sort of goal we've conceded a few times too many already this season.

The only late cheer for me was getting a text off a mate saying he'd given up on us for automatic promotion and couldn't even see us doing a Palace or Sunderland. He was serious too. Scunnie produced mild panic winning a corner deep into added time but Schmeicel was again decisive, coming and cleanly taking.

Final whistle produced those boos, not as loud or as long as it could have been, that passion's gone you see. We couldn't even be bothered to protest outside or chants Jones Out, another hallmark of days gone by. Instead, we were just relieved that we could finally leave, those of us who had bothered staying to the end anyway.

I could write more about our defensive, midfield and attacking problems and a frustrating pillock of a ref who stopped the game every chance and talked to players continually and not restarting the game until he'd had his say for any little thing but I'm sure you've already got the gist of this one.

So here we are 13 games in and it's been a pathetic 5 points out of 21 at Ninian Park this season. Little wonder we're now 17th (only that high thanks to goal difference) and just 3 points above relegation while 6 away from play-offs and 12 from promotion. It is fast approaching time to look what's below us instead of in front of us, especially as no game next weekend means we look certain to drop lower again before we next play. A truly awful state of affairs and it's increasingly hard to see any way out other than a door marked "exit" for manager, players or both and, if it carries on like this, sooner rather than later please.

Friday, October 26, 2007

GIG REVIEW: JUSTIN CURRIE (Bristol Academy)



What a fantastic intimate gig by Justin Currie at Bristol Academy tonight, the final date of a brief UK tour and over 5 years saw Del Amitri last performed as a unit. Making up for lost time, this thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable from start to finish.

As befits Justin at the moment, everything is low key but that doesn't stop the man from clearly enjoying what he's doing. The gig itself suffered from poor promotion and an early start/finish (curfew was 9:45pm so the venue could set up ready for an indie club night afterwards). It was nervy when a text arrived from the venue to say it had been switched to Academy 2.


Main Academy in Wurzle-land (a basement venue underneath an ice rink) is smaller than the others dotted around the country, Academy 2 is basically the top floor bar area, a long(ish) but narrow area. It was full and very warm in there but hard to tell the exact crowd - maybe 400 to 500 at best. The crowd was a mix of ages and types - including a quite unconvincing pre-op he-she trannie, the sort of "lady" that would still make you think and run away late night with the beer goggles on.

That seemed unfair as the ladies themselves had Justin to admire, my other half was drooling at her first sight having been a Del Amitri listener but never having seen them. The guy looked immaculate in a black suit, shirt, tie, sides and looking as trim as ever despite his extra years - unlike most of us males in the audience. What a bastard! For all that however, he's still very much a man's man too with that self deprecating sense of humour.

Despite the general unsuitability of venue which included little, if any, stage meaning only the very front had any view of the group and mainly glimpses of Justin, the acoustics were superb. The excellent 90 minutes set alternated throughout with tracks from his new solo opus, What Is Love For?, some Del Amitri classics and even a couple of new songs .- one a rock out number called Ready To Be and the other title I've forgotten but a very dark essentially drum, keyboard and vocal number with every line beginning with the word,"Tonight" and Justin popping up and down like a Meerkat as he sang it.

It seemed as if only a quarter of the audience were familiar with the new songs - many buying their copies on the way out - so the Dels archive were always going to hit the spot and it was pleasing it wasn't just singles aired. Amongst those played, from memory, were When I Want You, Before The Tide Comes In, Button On My Clothes, Tell Her This, In The Frame, Driving With The Brakes On, Be My Moonlight, Always The Last To Know, Here & Now and I Won't Take The Blame.

Criminally under-rated, both as an artist, songwriter and vocalist, JC had the audience in the palm of his hand and never let them go. His presence and his voice are exceptional in the live arena.

Loads of between song-banter and even a break in the gig when the audience offered to buy him and his band a drink, Guinness Cold for Justin, A Stella, Jagermeisrer and a Red Wine (you what?) for the drummer if you will. On a many of many high points, new stand out anthem, No, Surrender was Justin circling the front of the "stage" holding just a mic and belting out those lyrics is mesmerising. Driving With The Brakes On resonated with the crowd and all the new 'choons' were well received too, Goldust and The Beatle-esque Something In That Mess were my picks. Finishing with Be My Downfall, I just hope it's not 8 years before we get to see him again.


Website Links:

Justin Currie
www.myspace.com/justincurrie

Del Amitri
http://www.delamitri.com/

Oh oh, Dave's in trouble. It's Vote of Confidence time.

When is a vote of confidence not a vote of confidence?

Does this count?
http://tinyurl.com/yo3qg3

However the mere fact that supporters and club chairman are having to talk about the manager is a sure fact that the pressure is on and experience tells you it's so very rare that once there is momentum of feeling against a manager, it turns itself around. It's usually a matter of how long the pain lasts.

Dave Jones has enjoyed some fortune in lasting so long before the hard questions started being asked. Last season's magnificent start kept Cardiff in the play-off hunt until very late so many remained loyal even though cracks and discontent arose last Christmas. However a cup home draw with Spurs and a good February removed some heat. When it all went badly wrong after that - including City's worst ever finish to a season, the summer came along.

This season, the star names, unbeaten away form (until last weekend) and a cup draw with Liverpool have glossed over a side that again seems to feature some rank bad Dave Jones signings and deficiencies in all areas of the park while the manager himself hails it our best ever squad, seemingly devoid of some reality and certainly ignorant of club history. If it is our best ever squad (it's not, it's a classic symptom of 'lossus plotius') - then what does it say about our manager?

Yet for all of that, Dave Jones has been rewarded with 2 improved contracts and shares in the club. You can't escape the feeling that, even now, that's made his position a lot safer than it would otherwise be.

Scunthorpe at home tomorrow is a tremendous pressure game. The crowd may vote with their feet - and who can blame them with 1 win and 7 defeats in the last 10 home league games, completely unacceptable, whilst many there will be quick to express discontent if the side fail to perform again.

Oh boy, so exciting. I just can't wait. It's not often I can understand those who go shopping with the missus when City are home but this is one of those times when they seem to have a point.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Schmeicel joins Fowler and Hasselbaink at City

CASPER MAKES A FLYING SAVE
... Oops, sorry, wrong Kasper!
Think it's now established beyond doubt, as if there ever was any with most City fans, that Dave Jones cocked up by pushing Neil Alexander out of the club without an equivalent or better replacement lined up. By trying to fix what wasn't broken, a heavy price is being paid.

In desperation, or is it now complete disarray?, in comes another one. The 4th keeper Barmy Dave has tried this year. It's Kasper Schmeicel, son of the Great Dane Peter, who has slipped to 3rd choice after playing Man City's first 7 games in their explosive start to the season and who was, just a few weeks ago, being half-begged to commit an international future to England where's he lived virtually all his life.

A loan seems sensible as it was apparent he has a few rough edges to his game and needs more experience. Rest assured Kasper, I'm sure Cardiff's defence will provide that for you.

However fans were shocked to learn what was initially touted as a remainder of season deal does in fact appear to be just 1 month. In that time, Schmeicel can play a maximum of just 4 games given cup commitments (he's cup tied) and 2 weekend breaks.

How can this be in anyone's interest?

Dave Jones feels the pressure and he enjoys it

So he is as stupid as he sometimes looks and many of his decisions !

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/cardiff_city/7062611.stm

Kevin Cooper is a Trannie

City forgotten man, Kevin Cooper, has joined League One Tranmere Rovers, managed by City cult figure, Ronnie Moore.

Cooper has been surplus all season with 4 wideman ahead of him but few have shown interest in signing him or taking him on loan. This loan spell is for 1 month only.

With Coops gone, presumably City now need to find someone else to help sell the programmes pre-game and flips the burgers at half-time.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

SUNRISE in SOUTH WALES

A few photos of a gorgeous Barry and Cardiff late Autumn sunrise taken from home in Barry and then Cardiff Bay heading to work.

If you can't see the pictures in this email, click here to see it in a web browser:
http://www.kodakgallery.co.uk/I.jsp?c=z44xjkd.3h53urn0p&x=0&h=1&y=-iaswoo

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Police - Regatta de Plonkas

Main Attraction
Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias
(Yep, it ain't you Sting!)

The Police, who somehow become one of the biggest groups in the world, play Millennium Stadium tonight in front of 55,000 on their "f*ck it, we know it's shite and nobody really listens other than the bored and lost souls tuned to Real Radio but let's cash in" World tour.

£85 a ticket? - that's what I call a STING!

There are plenty of groups I love still being about or reforming but, Stewart Copeland's magnificent drumming apart, I'd like to make an exception for this group.

OK, back in the day, I quite liked them. Well until they went shit on us anyway and even bored us at gigs with music interludes with Sting's yeah-o, yay-o, yay--o-O (repeat ad nauseam for about 2 and a half days)! That was after 2 albums but what did they care? They'd cracked it.

It's all a far cry that what must be their first ever Cardiff appearance. Just £1 to see Manchester spoof punk outfit Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias. As usual, I went to the Rose and Crown (now Barfly) for a pre-gig bevvy and missed the support act.

"Who was it? What were they like?", I asked as I got in.

Shitty bleached blonde reggae white boys in jumpsuits. The feckin' Police or something, shite. Got gobbed all set, drinks hurled their way, a typical Kairdiff Top Rank welcome back then. Glad I missed that then. At the time, they were better known for a Wrigley's Spearmint Gum ad going up a tube escalator holding outsized packs of gum.


Nine months later I was back, the place packed as the white reggae boys found their songs Can't Stand Losing You, Roxanne and co suddenly became hits about 2 years after they first bombed. Loved it too and they pulled the birds in but it was now £3 to see them but wahey! Not long after, I lost all interest in them but the world everywhere now loved them and those lost 20 something girls are no doubt dragging their men along tonight - poor sods..

Cardiff Top Rank was buried long ago - now covered by Primark - a shame the venue's gone, a bigger shame Sting wasn't buried with it.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wales - it's only words

Here's the collective thoughts on another depressing Welsh football night - even though we won and Cardiff City's Joe Ledley got the winner - in our Euro 2008 stumble campaign from manager and captain.


BBC printed and audio quotes from Bellamy and Toshack
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/7050014.stm

BBC match report
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/7044147.stm

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

DEVO - WATCH US WORK IT

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyGRZBbxjeY

Originally cut for Dell laptops, there's now an independent video. Great catchy tune and watch out for the flowerpot hats especially on the Yank flag.

D-E-V-O!

EURO 2008: SAN MARINO 1 WALES 2


Euro 2008: SAN MARINO 1 WALES 2

You what?

We only just managed to beat that???

Another international another thoroughly depressing spectacle as Wales somehow managed to only squeeze home by the odd goal against a side with a goal difference of -50 and also allowed the hosts only their 2nd goal of the campaign.

This against a team who earned Captain Craig Bellamy's pre-match respect that, "there are no easy matches in international football but this is one". Welsh football currently languishes in a very dark place and you just cannot see any way out right now.

Playing the smallest football nation in Europe - only the Vatican and Monaco are smaller - and undoubtedly the worse, they've never won a match, Wales did appear stung by Tosh's public slagging of them - plus whatever else he said privately in one to one meetings.

Team selection did a few stories. Freddie Eastwood, loved and lavishly praised by Tosh before the weekend, banished to the bench and Earnie, the little guy who he was sounded out, starting in his place. Sam Ricketts dropped - hoo fecking ray! - but then brought on as a second half sub - you fecking what! True to form, Ricketts gave away a stupid free-kick that produced San Marino's moment of glory. And goalkeeper Danny Coyne - another who shouldn't be starting - was dropped for Lewis Price - someone who should if Hennessey is unavailable.

Wales' 1st half performance was good and pleasing. It is a no-win situation but they passed and moved very well, had over 70% of possession, scored two, had two disallowed, the San Marino keeper was their star making a couple of great stops and City's Joe Ledley was looking superb in all he did.

The goals came on 13 - Earnie meeting Bellamy's through ball with a shot that hit the keepers legs but had the power to roll in - and 35 as Simon Davies and Bellamy combined superbly to open up San Marino on the right, Bellers low ball beat the keeper and Ledley bundled into an open goal from a couple of yards for his first Welsh goal and one that incredibly turned out to be the winner. In between, the keeper made an outstanding stop for Joe, another from Bellamy and got the ball out of his net twice more but for free-kicks with Earnie clearly offside but unlucky with a challenge against the keeper. All the boys were playing well and seemed to be on a mission to make amends.

So I settled down for the 2nd half thinking more of the same please and this should be a 5 goal victory minimum. What followed was abysmal, they stopped playing, they stopped moving, they stopped passing, they took all of the pace out of the game and it was car crash football, just horrible viewing. Once again, it had me flicking channels and I'm a diehard Welsh follower.

All of a sudden Gabbidon was missing tackles, San Marino were getting forward and we were conceding free-kicks. Everyone saw Captain Selva shoot on goal but they were so far out, it was little more than catching practise for Price until the useless Ricketts intervened and gave him one on the edge of the box. Price deceived, 2-1.

Wales were never in danger of conceding again, San Marino's key tactic was 10 behind the ball which became 9 as a centre-half was dismissed for two yellow cards, the latter for a needless handball. However they were inept and impotent. After one way traffic and a barrage of efforts 1st half, all we saw 2nd half was a Bellamy half-chance and a last gasp shot both matched by good saves.

Throughout the painful 2nd period, Welsh fans chants of "we're shit and we know we are", "what the **** is going on?" and "you don't know what you're doing" could be heard as well as the usual supportive chants. Clearly uptight by the result, performance, the Toshack slagging and the tv interview, Bellamy was prickly calling the Welsh fans "vicious" in their chants which he said also took place in the 1st half when things were going well and refused to react to Tosh's words.

Wales fans rarely jeer the team and have had enough reasons too over the years and in this campaign. Think Bellers also knows that had it not been for Tosh's public outbursts, it's unlikely there would have been that reaction. As much as I nod and thoroughly agree with Tosh's comments, I can only see it causing more harm, distrust and fall out. We're too small a nation with too thin a squad to be having this. It got a reaction for 45 minutes, the other 45 was no better at all than the weekend and that itself is means bloody awful. It's clearly am very unhappy camp, why do I get the feeling there's a lot more to come and we haven't heard the last of it by any means? Thoroughly depressing time to be a Welsh football fan but at least for now, it's thoroughly depressing to be an Irish, Scottish or English fan too! Nobody has bragging rights tonight.

THE TUBES PROJECT

One of my favourite bands of all time are The Tubes. Enjoyed various success but still very much performing almost 35 years on, the live shows legendary and they remain an act not to miss as far as I'm concerned (or to check out if you don't have their back-catalogue).

The Tubes are currently in the throes of releasing a chronological movie with the band contributing their memories, photos and videos and the fans doing likewise too all curate by Michael Cotten, one of the founder members.

Some of the footage is now available oo youtube while there is also a Tubes project website. Have a look over your next cuppa.

You Tube website
http://www.youtube.com/thetubesproject

Tubes Project website
http://www.thetubesproject.com/

Tubes official website
http://www.thetubes.com/

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bish Bosh, Fighting Tosh

After cancelling all Monday's media sessions and having had nearly 72 hours to reflect on the horribilus events in Cyprus, John Toshack was still in no mood to be reconciliatory and, instead, launched one of the most savage media attacks a manager has tiraded against his own players I can recall.

Part of me smiled, applauded and nodded with every single word of criticism here. At face value, I can't argue with any of it. (See the story links at foot of this article). Part of me cringed as you do feel no good can come of a public hounding like this, no matter how worthy and deserved it is.

The problem here for me is that Tosh waited so long to say it and the players took so long to get the wrath.

This qualifying campaign had some of the lowest lows I can recall. The 5-2 home defeat to Slovakia was every bit as bad as Cyprus, the 1-0 loss in Dublin must be a leading contender for the worst international football match of all time, that tepid surrender to Germany in Cardiff lacked everything we need to see as a minimum requirement from a Welsh side, namely, bollocks, passion and heart and now the Cypriot debacle. It's a shocking catalogue.

Toshack has lost many players outside the dressing room long ago, it's going to be hard to imagine he'll now have it with those in it. I think it's gone forever with Koumas anyway, a temperamental sod who you just knew would sulk in that German game and go AWOL after Tosh publicly criticised him before that match.

History tells you that, in the modern game, remarks like these and screwing your players to the media is nearly always the beginning of the end. Call it player power and a lack of motivation.

Tosh is very much old skool, steeped in the Scoular/Shankly mould and as much as I wish it did work, trying to do it their way is almost certainly going to bite you in the arse.

I see nothing but an unhappy ending from this point onwards with Welsh fans the victims. The worry is that the FAW look set to spin this out to its ultimate conclusion for a while to come yet.

When was the last time Welsh football was this depressing? Oh for those halcyon days of Bobby Gould eh?

OK, the last comment was taking the piss but, more than ever right now, you need a dark sense of humour to stay close to the Welsh national side or turn your back on it ... as, shamefully, a few of our pampered pooches have done.




BBC coverage with audio of the inteviews
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/7047321.stm


Western Mail coverage
http://tinyurl.com/329b5j
http://tinyurl.com/3d3pen

Monday, October 15, 2007

DR. WHO AFTERMATH AND AFTER EFFECTS

Was I working with Dr Who zombie sidekicks today or was it really my work colleagues?

There were some sights as those who took part in the weekend filming found themselves on site until 4am Sunday and, buzzed with adrenalin, just had not caught up with sleep before coming back to work.

They had tales to tell, all think they'll be on tv, they met the Dr (David Tennant), hsi latest sidekick (Catherine Tate) and Sarah Lancashire (still best known for her role as Racquel, Curly's wife, in Cornonation Street).

The office was converted and unrecognisable but 1st thing Monday, you'd have never known anything had taken place at all.

Still not sure if was worth the effort and money by my work buddies but it made them happy, bless.

Half-time team talks for Toshack next game???

http://www.carling.com/pubfootball/halftime_withholloway/

Can think of many a time Dave Jones needed these as well !!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

MY DESK - as (to be) seen on Dr. Who

No sooner do I get a mention in The Echo than my work desk is filmed as a future star of Dr. Who.

Tonight, Dr. Who are filming scenes and my employer's offices in Newport. The location should be familiar to many as the premises next door to my offices were used for all indoor filming with the tardis and other indoor scenes in the first two series since the return of the programme and the alleyway between the buildings and our offices feartured in the return of the Ctybermen.

In this episode, 30 of my work colleagues played thesmelves as business people in suits but with filiming starting this afternoon at 5pm and continuing up until 4am, the glory has to be more worthwhile than the £100 fee they'll get. There'll be some knackered faces in work on Monday I guess.

I'm In The News (but there is a fundamental issue)

Check who's in The Echo today.
http://tinyurl.com/2k3b2b

But isn't it a serious point that you're welcome in city centre pubs wearing England, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man U shirts but not welcomed if you have a Cardiff City shirt or badge?

Any average fool knows those who wear club shirts are not those who cause trouble anyway but it appears some of our city centre publicans are not even that clever.

EURO 2008 QUALIFIER: CYPRUS 3 WALES 1 jeez!

This was as bad a Wales performance as any I have seen in my life that once again, will ask fundamental questions about the state of our national side.

Once again, problems started beforehand with drop-outs with keeper Wayne Hennessey and midfielder Jason Koumas pulling out in the week before the game. Suspicions amongst fans were inevitable about Koumas who has now pulled out of every away trip for an incredible 2 years whilst last seen inn a red shirt walking down the tunnel in a sulk after being awful and subbed against Germany, only a couple of days after Toshack wrongfully criticised him in public for missing Wales games when he turned up for that game and others had dubious drop-out reasons. Tosh seemed happy on this occasion however but patience of passionate Welsh followers is wearing thin..

The fact some still have pride in the Welsh shirt was exemplified by skipper Craig Bellamy playing less than a week after a groin op whilst James Collins played barely able to speak after dental surgery.

If not exactly a prize, Wales were now chasing the target of a 3rd place finish to help World Cup draw seedings but knew they had to win the back-to-back away trips to Cyprus and San Marino, something well within their grasp had they been moderately competent. They were also after their third successive away victory, a feat last achieved in 1981 and should have been buoyant after that magnificent 5-2 drubbing of Slovakia last month when you felt we were finally getting somewhere. It's now just another false dawn.

To describe Wales as awful against Cyprus would be the understatement of the year. So bad was this one that it has left John Toshack pondering his future in the job and issuing a public apology to the 800 Welsh supporters making themselves heard in the 8,500 crowd in a sparsely populated stadium.

The lack of passion, guts and determination was so stomach-churning that it was probably just as well tv apathy (Sky declined to show it, BBC couldn't televise) meant only hardcore or native tongued fans watched it on S4C complete with Welsh commentary but I bet many gave up before the end. It comes to something when you'd rather watch Strictly Come Dancing that you own national team and it wasn't a difficult choice to make.

Yet it could still have been different as Wales somehow endured a poor opening spell and took the lead against the run of play with a fine James Collins side-foot finish meeting a Bale free-kick at the far post. Collins was struggling with health and fitness and it was no surprise when he limped out of the action but when your replacement is a Peterborough defender, you got problems.

Wales biggest problem was just their wrong approach and attitude. Bellamy apart, and he become anonymous in the final half-hour, nobody performed and few seemed interested. Biggest culprit was Freddie Eastwood who strolled around before being subbed, looked like he wanted to be somewhere else and whose only moment in the game was a yellow card for a late sliding challenge from behind. However even the likes of Ledley, Bale, Simon Davies, Gabbidon and co were all poor, the defending was abysmal.

Wales ironically almost made it 2-0 early 2nd half as Ledley fed Bellamy whose shot was beaten away but that was it. Those first-half let-off where defenders stood still allowing Cypriot strikers free headers or shots was not rectified

It was shocking viewing in need of an 18 certificate as the whole Welsh defence stood motionless at a free-kick allowing the game's outstanding player, Okkas, a free header on the hour. Eight minutes later, they were ahead as a ball to the far post saw Morgan stand still, a Cyrpiot bundled the ball goalwards getting in front of Morgan after standing yards behind and Okkas turned home from 3 yards and the misery was complete when Charlampidis, who spent pre-season with Cardiff City and would be a Bluebird today had Trevor Sinclair not been captured, again turned home a free header from close range after being set up by a free header across the box, again with our defence playing statues.

There were other let-offs and it was so bad that the Cypriots gallingly spent the final 10 minutes showboating and doing party pieces at our expense. I couldn't take anymore and switched over. The Cyrpiots have been strong at home this campaign, they also hammered Eire and drew with Germany, but had Wales bothered to show any application, they should have seen this through. That they didn't leaves Toshack and his players coming under a barrage of disdain and criticism.

Hopes of third are now in tatters and, instead, Wales now find themselves haunted by the prospect of finishing 6th with only San Marino behind us as, with 10 points from 9 games, they now stand 3 points behind Cyprus and Slovakia, 5 behind Eire who fought a goalless draw with the Germans.
.
Wales go to San Marino on Wednesday. The San Marinians (or whatever the hell they call themselves) lost 7-0 in Slovakia. They now have 0 points, 1 goal scored and a goal difference of -49 after 10 games.

There are no easy games in international football, they say. San Marino may just get one this week!

Link to BBC report:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/7027548.stm

Link to Toshack post-match comments and audio interview:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/7036139.stm

EURO 2008 QUALIFIER: CYPRUS 3 WALES 1 jeez!

This was as bad a Wales performance as any I have seen in my life that once again, will ask fundamental questions about the state of our national side.

Once again, problems started beforehand with drop-outs with keeper Wayne Hennessey and midfielder Jason Koumas pulling out in the week before the game. Suspicions amongst fans were inevitable about Koumas who has now pulled out of every away trip for an incredible 2 years whilst last seen inn a red shirt walking down the tunnel in a sulk after being awful and subbed against Germany, only a couple of days after Toshack wrongfully criticised him in public for missing Wales games when he turned up for that game and others had dubious drop-out reasons. Tosh seemed happy on this occasion however but patience of passionate Welsh followers is wearing thin..

The fact some still have pride in the Welsh shirt was exemplified by skipper Craig Bellamy playing less than a week after a groin op whilst James Collins played barely able to speak after dental surgery.

If not exactly a prize, Wales were now chasing the target of a 3rd place finish to help World Cup draw seedings but knew they had to win the back-to-back away trips to Cyprus and San Marino, something well within their grasp had they been moderately competent. They were also after their third successive away victory, a feat last achieved in 1981 and should have been buoyant after that magnificent 5-2 drubbing of Slovakia last month when you felt we were finally getting somewhere. It's now just another false dawn.

To describe Wales as awful against Cyprus would be the understatement of the year. So bad was this one that it has left John Toshack pondering his future in the job and issuing a public apology to the 800 Welsh supporters making themselves heard in the 8,500 crowd in a sparsely populated stadium.

The lack of passion, guts and determination was so stomach-churning that it was probably just as well tv apathy (Sky declined to show it, BBC couldn't televise) meant only hardcore or native tongued fans watched it on S4C complete with Welsh commentary but I bet many gave up before the end. It comes to something when you'd rather watch Strictly Come Dancing that you own national team and it wasn't a difficult choice to make.

Yet it could still have been different as Wales somehow endured a poor opening spell and took the lead against the run of play with a fine James Collins side-foot finish meeting a Bale free-kick at the far post. Collins was struggling with health and fitness and it was no surprise when he limped out of the action but when your replacement is a Peterborough defender, you got problems.

Wales biggest problem was just their wrong approach and attitude. Bellamy apart, and he become anonymous in the final half-hour, nobody performed and few seemed interested. Biggest culprit was Freddie Eastwood who strolled around before being subbed, looked like he wanted to be somewhere else and whose only moment in the game was a yellow card for a late sliding challenge from behind. However even the likes of Ledley, Bale, Simon Davies, Gabbidon and co were all poor, the defending was abysmal.

Wales ironically almost made it 2-0 early 2nd half as Ledley fed Bellamy whose shot was beaten away but that was it. Those first-half let-off where defenders stood still allowing Cypriot strikers free headers or shots was not rectified

It was shocking viewing in need of an 18 certificate as the whole Welsh defence stood motionless at a free-kick allowing the game's outstanding player, Okkas, a free header on the hour. Eight minutes later, they were ahead as a ball to the far post saw Morgan stand still, a Cyrpiot bundled the ball goalwards getting in front of Morgan after standing yards behind and Okkas turned home from 3 yards and the misery was complete when Charlampidis, who spent pre-season with Cardiff City and would be a Bluebird today had Trevor Sinclair not been captured, again turned home a free header from close range after being set up by a free header across the box, again with our defence playing statues.

There were other let-offs and it was so bad that the Cypriots gallingly spent the final 10 minutes showboating and doing party pieces at our expense. I couldn't take anymore and switched over. The Cyrpiots have been strong at home this campaign, they also hammered Eire and drew with Germany, but had Wales bothered to show any application, they should have seen this through. That they didn't leaves Toshack and his players coming under a barrage of disdain and criticism.

Hopes of third are now in tatters and, instead, Wales now find themselves haunted by the prospect of finishing 6th with only San Marino behind us as, with 10 points from 9 games, they now stand 3 points behind Cyprus and Slovakia, 5 behind Eire who fought a goalless draw with the Germans.
.
Wales go to San Marino on Wednesday. The San Marinians (or whatever the hell they call themselves) lost 7-0 in Slovakia. They now have 0 points, 1 goal scored and a goal difference of -49 after 10 games.

There are no easy games in international football, they say. San Marino may just get one this week!

Link to BBC report:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/7027548.stm

Link to Toshack post-match comments and audio interview:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/internationals/7036139.stm

MANCHESTER

With Cardiff City having a weekend off - and, is it turned out, the Welsh football team doing the same as they never showed up in Cyprus at all - time for a break so went to Manchester just for a Friday/Saturday trip and a 1 one nighter.

Stayed there a few times before but mostly with work - how I'll never forget taking the wrong turn leaving Barclays Bank and, somehow, going straight into Granada tv, out by Dev's shop and on Coronation Street! Only then did Security men surround me. Also for a tv show recorded a few years ago for a now defunct satellite channel and last time, for one of the best sporting nights of my life witnessing Joe Calzaghe's defining moment of glory at first hand but this was the first time I got to look around in the day.

However this was my first purely social trip and stayover. Arriva Trains Wales currently offer trips for £10 each way so it's a bargain trip - more so when I won a free pair on their website when booking other tickets for City's recent awayday at Barnsley.

The trip is tortuous though - a slightly upmarket version of the train you'd get from Cardiff to Barry or The Valleys and up through Newport, Cwmbran, Pontypool, Hereford, Shrewsbury, Crewe, Stockport to name just a few stops. Both trips were cold too, middle of autumn and they had air con on full blast, muppets!

Manchester Piccadilly is very central and the city offers 3 completely free bus routes to help you around the city centre on top of normal services and trams. Our hotel was only 5 mins walk away though.

We stayed at Britannia Sachas - just £55 including full English breakfast which worked out cheaper than city centre Travelodges and TravelInns and brilliant location at top of main shopping street literally next door to Debenhams. Its exterior does nerve you at first sight but the fears go as you head indoors. For what it is, this was excellent with a lot of money spent updating it. The receptionist even gave us a free upgrade and we had a big room with split level bed and sitting area. Full facilities including big fridge and also a decent enough - if small - pool, sauna, jacuzzi and steam room too.

I'll spare you the shopping talk although Missus thought Arndale Shopping Centre was good but, as always these days, all the shops in any city centre can be found in every other one. There's rarely anything different to see.

So, nighttime, we headed to Deansgate and The Printworks. The Printworks is Manchester's equivalent of Cardiff's Brewery Quarter except quadruple the size with twice as many bars and restaurants as well as a multiplex and other odds and sods.

Now we had a good bevvy - and I'd had a long work week and long day too - so if you think I look pissed in the pictures, well it's probably because I am. Had a great laugh and time even if, surprisingly, it was relatively quiet everywhere although we left the scene at 11ish when I can imagine it could have got busier.

I wanted to show the missus Manchester's legendary "Curry Mile" which, in Rusholme, is like a mini Las Vegas with every curry house fully decorated. Unfortunately our visit apparently coincided with the passing of Ramadan or some equivalent so it was blocked off to traffic, packed out and best avoided. We went for a posh one in town but I was too pissed to remember much about it except the naan bread was huge and the food was average. Place was called East 2 East.

Next day, a bit more shopping but we headed home early to watch Cyprus v Wales ... wished I hadn't bothered now!

Pics of trip here:

http://tinyurl.com/38xkyh

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

All Hail - Burnley declare NP a bogey ground

Clicky the linky:
http://tinyurl.com/25s3sv

MP3 Hell

Ronan Keating just came on my MP3 shuffle … dirty boy.

Seriously, I have no idea how he got on there but it made me ill and queasy. I felt violated, my MP3 felt contaminated. He’s now in the trash bin of course.

The MP3 made a sterling recovery playing Big Audio Dynamite, Motorhead, Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins and Foo Fighters since but what a shock that was.

Has anything like this ever happened to you, dear readers?

Monday, October 08, 2007

BLUEBIRD PLAYER NEWS

MATT GREEN JOINS THE QUAKERS ON LOAN

Rookie Matt Green has finally got the loan move he needs for some much necessary first team action and experience and move him on from being ... erm ... a little green!

Joining League Two Darlington on an initial one month loan, 19 yr old Green, a surprise £10,0000 January transfer window signing from Newport County, needs experience to force a first team challenge. He is lightning fast but very raw. He scored a couple in reserve games and pre-season but the first team door is firmly shut to him at present and a move and, hopefully, some regular football is vital for his development. Green steps straight into Darlo's squad for the Johnstone Paints Trophy game (you what?) against Leeds United tomorrow. That must be the most minor first team fixture Leeds have had in 50 years!


SINCLAIR ALL CLEAR?

Trevor Sinclair has been absent for the past week after needing a minor knee op following a tackle at Barnsley which caused a piece of knee bone to flake away ... urgh. The op has gone well and Sinclair is expected to be available for City next game at Soton on the 21st after the current international break. .


IT'S TRICKY FOR RICCY

Things are not looking good. Have been out injured or playing injured for almost the whole of 2007 with a persistent groin injury - which seems to be a different type or in a different area of the groin each time - the much-missed midfielder is having more surgery. City and Scimeca have tried several remedies including surgery a couple of times previously but Riccy breaks down as soon as he steps up training or has any kind of competitive football. It's unclear how long this will extend his absence for but you do get the feeling it must be getting close to 'last chance saloon' for the likeable Riccy. Now 32, it's the wrong age to be carrying this type of problem long-term. Let's hope it works out as City would love him back on the pitch.


McPHAIL, YOU'RE SICK

News emerges that Steve McPhail's absence vs Burnley was not an injury but illness. He felt ropey Saturday morning and became ill in the pre-match warm up which forced the shuffle with Joe Ledley pushed into his man of the match centre midfield show. I didn't feel so good myself but I'm sure McPhail's reason was different to my Friday night trawl around town!


MacCLEAN

Injured, like Scimeca, in the first 15 minutes after a 5-1 friendly beating off a strong Wurzels outfit in a friendly last month, As always happens with City, he was initially predicted to be absent until Xmas but may now feature in the squad for City's next outing in a fortnight at Southampton. City have better recovery rates than the NHS, I swear.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

AN INDIAN SUMMER AT BARRY ISLAND


October 7th and Barry Island is busy... ... ... I mean packed.


WHERE THE SANDS ARE GOLDEN

AND THE SEAS ARE BLUE

THAT'S GLORIOUS BARRY ISLAND

(yep, I am taking the piss!)





No parking spaces on the front or around the fairground and the main car park was two thirds full.

The fairground was shut - seeing as it's been open about 10 days all year and has died on its arse - that was no surprise. The prom however was packed, every cafe full and people sitting around everyhwere.

The beach was full of dogs but while that's a typical sight with the calibre of females that are drawn there, this was the four-legged variety as it was the first weekend of the winter when animals weree allowed on the beach. And it was pleasant and warm.

Barry Island is truly awful but when the sun's out and the weather's good, it somehow never quite looks that bad. Even the sea appeared blue ... and had people swimming in it ... nutters!




Full selection can be found here.

http://tinyurl.com/3do46f

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Champtionship: CARDIFF CITY 2 BURNLEY 1


SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 15th
CHAMPIONSHIP - Game 10/46 - at NINIAN PARK

CARDIFF CITY (1) 2 Ledley 36, Parry 56
BURNLEY (0) 1 Akinbiyi 52


FINAL WHISTLE

AND, INCREDIBLY,

CARDIFF CITY

HAVE WON AT HOME

IN THE LEAGUE ...


REALLY, THEY HAVE!!!





What's the best way to overcome a non-winning run on current form and on home ground? Bring Burnley to town as the Lancashire side duly making it the fifth successive season that The Clarets have fallen on Ninian Park soil. Celebrations all round then as City finally held onto a Championship lead - after messing it up 5 time previously - to collect not just their first three point haul since winning at Norwich on Sept 1st but, more incredibly, to win the first Championship win at Ninian Park in 9 attempts and 7 months, that victory ironically also against Norwich.

This was a sCrappy game (the capital C was deliberate) in the only style you come to expect from Steve Cotterill sides - tough, physical and muscle and in the pie-munching, rectangle shaped, seriously unfit David Unsworth, some bulk too! City withstood it all and won it with two quality Welsh-made goals with a superb Joe Ledley header and Paul Parry run and shot, even showing their character to win it again after another defensive lapse saw Burnley briefly back on level terms. Ledley continued his current run of outstanding personal performances even though he forced into central midfield and was either involved in or produced the only real moments of quality City should have more won emphatically despite JFH and Fowler being generally quiet but Burnley's Hungarian keeper Kiraly - as entertaining as ever in Primark-style jog bottoms - made some superb stops.

It's been yet another of those weeks. Two visits to South Yorkshire in 4 days saw Cardiff overwhelm Barnsley and Sheffield United but allowed both to equalise in the final moments, that following the last home game where they did the same with Preston. The Liverpool cup game moved to Halloween Wednesday Night which, incredibly,.meant the weekend Blackpool game was postponed. Lancs police recently switched it to Friday and couldn't revert or cover it on Saturday due to other trivial events in the region that had been known about for months. It was not without irony that The Bluebirds were home to Burnley on the same day a major rugby World Cup quarter-final and other events were in Cardiff

To their immense credit, Peter Ridsdale and the club agreed to reimburse fans with out of pocket non-refundable costs (still waiting to hear if he'll cover my £200 worth of train tickets so here's hoping!). The week however ended on a triumphant note as woefully inadequate goalkeeper Ross Turnbull was recalled to Middlesborough after injury to their back-up keeper. City agreed to have his season loan spell terminated leaving Dave Jones free to bring in another. That is the equivalent of a "Get Out of Jail" free card. Cardiff made all the right noises about how they could have stopped it and that he has a big future ... on the evidence shown here, I can only assume that'll be a big future serving in McDonald's. I bet Jones couldn't believe his luck!

Team-news as Steve McPhail was absent which was a surprise to me as the teams came out. He was in the wars at Sheffield United needing stitches for a head wound but unsure if that was the reason for his absence or it was another injury. McPhail is one of those players you love or hate and central midfield has been misfiring but there were some City fans who believe City's cause was aided by McPhail not being on the pitch. With few options, Joe Ledley - City's best player recently, was pulled inside meaning a start for Peter Whittingham who had a right stinker. Otherwise,Jones resisted the temptation to start with Captain Darren Purse with our defence under the spotlight having conceded those late goals and 12 in 6 games to go with Oakes, McNaughton-Johnson-Loovens-Capaldi, Parry-Rae-Ledley-Whittingham, Fowler-Hasselbaink. Subs were David Forde (back from a month loan at Luton)-Purse-Gunter-Thommo and prospect Aaron Ramsey.

Burnley have started the season well and came to Ninian Park with just one defeat all season. With the league table bunched up, they dropped one place below City, with identical goals for and against, 4:45pm having started the afternoon 7 places ahead of us in 8th. They do have a game in hand on most sides and their away form was good ahead of a trip to Cymru with 2 wins out of 3 (at Colchester and Sheffield Weds).

Steve Cotterill has limited finances and a small squad (the only time that term could be applied to Unsworth) but it has some quality and will always be competitive. They started with a bizarre 4-1-4-1 system featuring Kiraly, Alexander-Carlisle-Caldwell-Jordan, Unsworth, Spicer-Mahon-Blake-Gray, Lafferty.

Unsworth was some sight, a fatter version of Razor Ruddock if that's possible, must have been wearing the mascot's kit for the size fit and presumably playing in front of the back four and behind midfield as he couldn't keep up with either. He was one of three Burnley players replaced at the interval, I guess, to spend the second half cuddled up with an oxygen mask. If he can play for Burnley, so can I.

A decent defence with Britain's Brainiest Alcoholic footballer Clark Carlisle who now looks a dead ringer for Sucre in Prison Break and former Preston stalwart Graham Alexander and some attacking quality with former City loanee Alan Mahon, the dangerous Robbie Blake, Andy Gray (scorer of 7 already) and Kyle Lafferty.

There's an Indian Summer but it was light cloud and mild during the game, the crowd was disappointing at 12,914 but only 250 or so came from Burnley, one taken out in first minute and as befits a town where the main 3 course meal is a packet of crisps, Greggs pasty, and custard slice and where the key pastime is drinking cider and shouting at war memorials, a couple of them stood at the back of the Grange whirling their scarves in the air. Very 1970's.

The least said (or written) about the first half-hour,the better really. Blue shirts struggled to pass to another blue shirt and Burnley were no better. Our legendary duo produced no more than a Fowler shot into the stand and a JFH free-kick in a great position into the visitor's wall. The Bluebirds midfield struggled to adapt, Peter Whittingham had a hopeless half where everything he did went wrong and fluffed one of two outstanding chances in the opening phase. First came when Robbie Fowler was put clear down the right and has JFH free in the box waiting to pounce but Fowler woefully underhit his pass and danger was averted. Whittingham's failure came as .McNaughton advance, cut into the box and played the perfect ball across the face of goal which saw Whittingham play an air shot to a 'can't possibly miss that one' chance with an empty net facing him, he appeared to lack the courage to bundle it home but it underlined his half.

Burnley forced some early corners but City held firm but had more injury trouble as Glenn Loovens limped out after 25 minutes apparently with hamstring problems. Loovens is not having a great time with fitness and Cardiff always look better with him, let's hope it doesn't become a recurring theme. Back came Captain Darren Purse and within 5 minutes, he was the unlikely hero creating the first goal with a cross. His first attempt out wide was blocked but his second was a great delivery and in charged JOE LEDLEY between two defenders to plonk a superb downward header from 12 yards into Kiraly's corner, the keeper helpless. A classic header, Joe's 2nd goal in a week.

Cardiff seemed to settle more with that and Joe was now in a groove, advancing and spotting the opportunity to hit a first time 25 yarder that was screaming for the top corner with Kiraly off his line but the keeper managed to tip over. Burnley won some more corners before the interval but, again, City coped comfortably indeed.

The half-time whistle blew and everyone headed to the bar before having to endure the embarrassing sight of the cutting edge entertainment that is fans trying to kick a ball at a garden shed. Maybe it is just a ploy to get us all to the bar to spend money, I can't think of any other worthy reason for it.

Half-time: CITY 1 BURNLEY 0

Steve Cotterill went for broke by taking the highly unusual step of using all three subs at the restart, taking off Unsworth (which pleased the ground staff), Mahon and Lafferty, introducing Ade Akinbiyi, Wade Elliott and one-time City target Chris McCann and implementing the more traditional 4-4-2 method.

That instinctively felt more threatening but it was City who showed first as Paul Parry got up from one poor challenge with advantage waved, cut inside and had Kiraly at full stretch to punch away. Moments later he was in action again, doing well to hold Joe Ledley's 30 yarder then disaster as City got in a mess and were pegged back. There was no great threat as Burnley attacked down the left but McNaughton was beaten and Jordan's cross was missed by Elliott in front of goal but not by AKINBIYI at the far post who directed a neat header back across the flailing Oakes..

Two Burnley players lined up for headers in front of goal and no Cardiff defender near them, no wonder Dave Jones was going ballistic in the City dugout. He was perhaps more animated with the ref get sent to the stands at Barnsley last week but I've never seen him more animated with his team than at that moment.

The pressure was on City and, truth be told, there was an air of resigned "we're going to cock it up again" atmosphere in the stands but credit City for having different ideas as they regained the lead within 4 minutes and with a cracker. It was solo PAUL PARRY in a near identical run and shot to his earlier save but this time, he cut across tow men and unleashed an unstoppable 20 yard volley into the opposite bottom corner.

Having surrendered the lead the last 6 times they had it in league games, City knew they had to close it out that's exactly what they did. It was winning ugly but Cardiff were rarely in danger and looked strong and resolute when attacked. Purse was leading by example, Oakes was decisive in all he did and City looked stronger for it.

When Cardiff pushed forward, either Kiraly saves or, more often than not, Burnley's brutal approach got in the way. Joe Ledley was scythed a couple of times, they were head injuries and some annoyance at the ref for not being firmer although I thought he was excellent overall. However it was ironic that when Caldwell become the first player booked, it was with one of the lesser challenges of the game and it was the same for Spicer although, in his case, he probably got booked on a totting up process for taking his foul challenges into double figures. Joe Ledley was buzzing and everywhere, holding central midfield, charging up the wing, supporting play on the left and right and going on lung-bursting runs into the penalty box while being hacked down and coming back for more. Some of his forward passes were brilliant but Robbie and JFH looked a little jaded and couldn't take advantage ... as someone commented by me, they were the perfect passes for Chopra.

Elliott had one dangerous mazy run which, thankfully, wasn't matched by his finishing, Robbie Fowler went off 25 minutes early for Thommo and Parry, on another great run, twisted and turned a defender inside out before Kiraly was excellent in blocking his rising drive. Kiraly was at it again, doing very well indeed to not just block but hold onto a rasping JFH free-kick with true venom and now it was down to whether City could hold out in those final few minutes.

That they did so - despite 4 added minutes too - is probably due to lessons learned by manager and players. The players took every opportunity to slow or kill the game, taking the ball to corners, playing higher upfield and working to keep the ball in the Burnley half. Dave Jones also removed JFH for the last 5 and brought on Aaron Ramsey going 4-5-1. Ramsey had the youngest head but also showed a football brain to win a couple of challenges and clearances, one of them giving City fans kittens as he ran back towards goal but it was only to make space to turn and launch the ball to the Bob Bank. And the fans played their part too as a Joe Ledley shot fond the Grange End and the fans decided to play basketball in there with it. It eventually went back when a replacement ball turned up.

Final whistle and you would have thought we had a major cup victory but such is the joy of relief. Ten games into the season is usually a time when some managers declare they can be judged. Cardiff are exactly in mid-table, exactly where they have been for 3 seasons Can they go higher? It's certainly not a strong division and I've yet to see an outstanding side and despite City's inadequacies, I've yet to see anyone better than us at all either. Take away those late equalisers in the previous three games and missed penalties in the first two home games and we'd be well clear in 2nd.

And there lies the key. City are now finding the net with regularity (17 in the last 8 games) and goals are being shared around the team too (8 different scorers) but they remain powerless to prevent them at the other end and keep clean sheets. One clean sheet so far is just not good enough and unless that improves, we're always be looking up and wondering. However, sort it out, then maybe ... just maybe ... anything is possible.



GAME COST: Tickets: £37.50Programmes: £3 Travel: £4 Food/Drink/Misc: £15Total: £59.50 SEASON COSTS: £846

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Modern Kairdiff Arts Centres, my former hunting grounds

Chapter, "one of the leasing arts centres in Europe" has been awarded £1.75M lottery grant and will get a £3.8M makeover and modernisation.

Echo report here:
http://tinyurl.com/2deksk


Good news indeed for the arty farties but, to me, it will always be my adventure playground. Derelict old school with gyms and classrooms, brilliant for exploration and we loved it.

But there was one other place we loved more and that too is now an arts centre - Llanover Hall in Romilly Road, Canton. You see, I lived next door to it most of my life - and all my life spent in Cardiff. My parents lived next to it for almost 50 years until last year.

As a kid, the former school was derelict and abandoned and many an afternoon was spent by my brother and myself in the old gym, many an evening jumping off the air raid shelters (kid you not) where the car park now is that adjoined our house and, where we felt daring, there were those times when we dared go around the back in the coal bunker. And boys will be boys - what a great place for letting off railway detonators that we used to nick - well, until the law cautioned us anyway!

The first we knew it was becoming an arts centre was when a caretaker - Ted from Carmarthen Road - appeared on site. One of his first jobs was repairing the smashed windows mostly caused by my wayward shots dreaming I was the next Gil Reece or Tony Evans! Then a bloke called Jack built a castle on the waste ground that later became the car park .and we helped him do it - alright it was a 12 foot high incomplete turret with three walkway entrances. He spent 2 years of his life doing that, art eh?

Suppose it's great to see progress but for me, it can never be what it was..

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Championship: Sheffield United 3 Cardiff City 3 (we eff it up again!)

Cardiff City are now safely on course fro charitable status and gifting outplayed opponents a point while losing two themselves for the 3rd successive match. This time, The Bluebirds conspired to throw away a hard-earned and classy 3-1 lead at Sheffield United's Brammall Lane.

Coming directly on top on conceding a 90th minute equaliser to Preston at home and allowing outclassed Barnsley a 85th minute equaliser just last weekend, it is both soul-destroying and ridiculous.

City were battered for half-hour at United, captain Steve McPhail needing stitches after one collison and he was off the pitch as James Beattie opened the scoring, the Championship's top scorer netting his 8th of the season already. Another simple header from a set-piece, another lesson we are not learning.

However back came Cardiff to storm into a 3-1 lead. Joe Ledley with a flying volley equalised on 31 minutes, Cardiff's first attack of the game and they led at half-time with a Robbie Fowler penalty after Roger Johnson was tagged in the box. The 2nd period saw Cardiff rampant and dominant, Gavin Rae made it 3-1, Fowler and JFH were ripping open the Blades but City conspired to miss several great openings that would have put the game completely out of reach.

When left back Chris Armstrong made it 3-2 with 5 to go with a speculative effort, after failiing to be closed down, it should have been no more than a consolation but, in the three minutes of added time, Blades captain and centre-half Chris Morgan headed home ... you guessed it ... a corner kick!

City's defensive play is criminal, it's just 1 clean sheet out of 9 this season and, at Sheffield United, there's a strong argument that Andy Oakes, the current custodian, has a hint of lame in all three home goals. He's shown that he's more competent than Turnbull - that wasn't difficult to do! - but I fear he's another nowhere near as good as what we had and certainly short of what we need.

Our defence were arguably our string point last season but with 13 goals conceded in 9 games and just 1 clean sheet and an inability to hold onto a lead, they are now under severe examination. We didn't keep enough clean sheets last season but even City's 13 clean sheets in 46 games last season (all with Neil Alexander as David Forde didn't keep any in his 7 games) looks a long way off being replicated.

The Bluebirds now stand in 15th place after 9 games, those dropped 6 points have cost them the opportunity to be in 4th. So gutted and infuriated by this.

City's speed date in Liverpool

City's Carling Cup tie at Anfield is now officially confirmed for Tuesday October 30th with a 7:45pm kick-off.

It will be Cardiff's first visit to the red half of Liverpool for almost 50 years since an infamous 4-0 win the the old Division Two in December 1959 - a match that is in history as the legendary Bill Shankly's first ever game in charge of Liverpool.

How our paths have differed since that time eh?

Ledley's Most Valuable Autograph

It's dragged along quietly for a long time but Joe Ledley and Cardiff City have finally agreed a new contract that has been signed. The Fairwater kid who at 20 is a first team fixture with over 130 appearances in in prime form at present has finally put pen to a new 2 year deal. Not before time too.

All we need is a team of Joe Ledley's ...