Monday, March 31, 2008
"I know Portsmouth would say that, hopefully, it is still not going to happen but I always thought this season there was an opportunity for it.
"We've seen Barnsley and Cardiff playing exceptionally well, winning on merit, and it's great that there is an occasion coming up which promises to see so many not-so-famous players end up with an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
"West Brom? I can certainly see them doing something. I was there when they scored five at Bristol Rovers in the sixth round, five at Coventry and three at Peterborough.
"They've been desperate to make sure I would be at their semi-final as their lucky mascot but maybe they were not quite so happy with me when they drew Pompey.
"Cardiff and Barnsley also play good stuff and I don't think any of them will be intimidated by Wembley because they'll think it is a chance to show what they can do to a big audience.
"Whatever happens, Brooking is convinced it will end up a much more exciting spectacle than the stultifying Chelsea-Manchester United final last season or the drab Arsenal-United clash, decided on penalties, a couple of years earlier at Cardiff.
His own West Ham made a much better show of it with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Liverpool, only to also lose on penalties in 2006, and he said: "The bigger clubs have players who, even though the new stadium has only been open just over a year, have been there a few times already.
"For most of the ones involved now it is going to be a special experience.
"There's been a lot of debate whether the semi-finals should be at Wembley as well as the final.
"Yes, of course it was always in the FA's business plan but look at the semi-final at Villa Park last year when there were only 17,000 tickets for each set of fans.
"For me, the fact you can get almost double that figure now will be great."And the clubs, I know, are sure it will be a big occasion. What was it, 1912, the year the Titanic sunk, when Barnsley were last in a final? Cardiff the winners in 1927? Even Pompey have to go back 69 years for their last final appearance.
"The fact they've had to wait so long will make it special."It has been a bizarre competition and people have said we (the FA) must be upset that none of the recognised big clubs are left but I know the four clubs and their fans are delighted - and so am I.
"You've got to say this is was what the FA Cup needed. It is strange we've ended up with four so-called unfashionable clubs after putting the semis back at Wembley but I think it has now been given a different, higher profile again.
"I'm delighted for those individuals who will come through it at the end with the same sort of tales I've had to tell for the last 28 years.
"Cup runs generate a certain amount of money for a club but it's not all about finances. It's about doing something as a player.
"I wouldn't particularly like to be a Premier League player who in 10 years' time can only say I had 10 consecutive seasons finishing mid-table and made money for himself and his club.
"Okay that's good, but I'd rather say we won something. You can't take that away."
Sunday, March 30, 2008
The final batch went to Hull City ticket stub holders who statered to queue 10 hours before the ticket offet opened at 9am today. By opening time, the queue was a couple of thousand strong and with tickets sold by midday, some were sadly turned away.
While Cardiff and Barnsley have now both sold their 33,000 allocation, it's not over tyet for the rest as City have appealed for more tickets in the 90,000 stadium where corporate and other guests will surely not take their allocations.
Cardiff expect to announce mroe news tomorrow.
WALES on SUNDAY
Wembley not the only big occasion
Saints sunk by Bluebird Parry's goal
Paul Parry sinks Southampton
I can still fondly remember getting mine at The Oldest Record Shop In The World, Cardiff's Spiller's Records, no Saturday morning was complete with a visit there of the latest vinyl and then off to The Sasparilla Bar in Morgan's Arcade to knock back a glass of the stuff whilst poring over the sleeve notes - which included a bizarre pic of multi-coloured dummies in a launderette - and looking at the mighty vinyl of course and seeing if there was any obscure note in it core.
Costello was doing punk and new wave his way and I loved it. His debut, My Aim Is True, is outstanding in its own right with tracks like Red Shoes, Mystery Dance, Alison, Less Than Zero and Watching The Detectives but that was recorded with Clover, an American mid-west group, some of whom went on to become Huey Lewis and the News.
This Year's Model saw the debut of the mighty skills and craft of Pete Thomas on drums, Bruce Thomas on
bass and Steve Nieve on keyboards and Elvis hit the ground hard and fast with his follow up. Even today, it is 35 minutes of raw power and breathless musical heaven. Many of its tracks still rank amongst my favourites and still sound fantastic - songs like No Action, This Year's Girl, Pump It Up, You Belong To Me, I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea, Lip Service and Lipstick Vogue - all showcase EC & The Attractions at their heady best.
To celebrate its anniversary, another Deluxe edition comes out next week - 2 cd's, 40 tracks, lyrics, rare pictures and notes. The additional tracks are Costello demos while cd 2 is a live 1978 show, 16 of its 17 songs never previously released. The album is as fresh now as it was then, Elvis at his biting, snarling, cynical best.
That's a must for me - if you got any sense, you'll try and get a listen too.
Seems to have been a hero for Bournemouth yesterday where he will remain on loan for the rest of this season before, I suspect, he leaves Ninian Park officially - good luck to your Fordy!
The meeting was well organised with guest speakers from the Southampton Trust and Kevin Rye, the Supporters Trust Chairman, plus many fans asking questions in a good Q&A session.
The aims are simple but cover areas where our club have badly lacked over the years. Initially, it is to approve a board to have dialogue with the club representing all members views. Currently, as we know, that doesn't happen at all and the only ones who seem to have the ear of Ridsdale and co are mainly the same people who used to move with Sam Hammam.
Eventually, it has to be an aim to have a Fan Director so that there is more understanding, co-operation and community between us.
It may sound idealistic but there are now plenty of examples where this works around the country so why not Cardiff City?
There will be a full launch later this summer but for now, take a look at the Trust website www.ccfctrust.org
SATURDAY MARCH 29th
CHAMPIONSHIP - Game 39/46 - at NINIAN PARK
CARDIFF CITY (1) 1
SOUTHAMPTON (0) 0
In the ever growing list of event days, (have we had a National Nose-Picking Day yet?), today's Earth Hour had cities worldwide pledge home and business lights switch off for an hour between 8 and 9pm but Cardiff City started early by putting out Sad Southampton's lights at Ninian Park within 6 minutes. Paul Parry superbly finished the sweetest of goals for The Bluebirds third successive comfortable home win.
Forget the rest though as those who watch paint dry would have found this tedious. Say what they like, City showed their minds are (understandably) focused on the F.A. Cup but that wasn't much of a problem as The Worst Ever Southampton side (by a country mile) proved they're relegation-haunted and may yet replace the Jacks in League One.
Goal apart, perhaps they day's highlight came before lunch with the unanimous decision to form a long overdue Cardiff City's Supporters Trust (http://www.ccfctrust.org/). Well done to those who both organised and attended including the handful of Southampton fans to help explain and support the event. I'd urge anyone who professes to care for City too look at the website and help if they feel inclined ... or explain why not if they don't.
A good bevvy in town, taxis to the ground proved cheaper and easier than trains and then the game. In this craziest of seasons, many of us feel unconvinced by City's claim of a play-off challenge and we remain mid-table (yes I know winning a game in hand takes us within 2 points of it) but feel frustrated to see three other Cities - Hull,Stoke and Brizzle - leading the pack as each have looked inferior looking to us. Problem is, we've just never backed the team and invested. It could have been us but we let it go.
The season's final transfer window passed on Thursday for Cardiff City the same as all others - plenty of talk of additions, big names dangled and leaked, the squad woefully short of cover in key areas but it comes to nought.
So City lined up with no recognised right back (McNaughton and Blake are both injured) and our entire striking options consisting of out of position Paul Parry, out of favour Steve Thompson and out of our minds (we must have been!) Warren Feeney while a talented just turned 17 year old was asked to play his fourth different position in 9 starts this year in Aaron Ramsey at right-back. It was Enckleman, Ramsey-Johnson-Loovens-Capaldi, Whittingham-Rae-McPhail-Ledley, Thompson-Parry. Subs were Oakes-Feeney-Purse-Scimeca-Sinclair.
Southampton have had a tortuous season with this defeat meaning they having collected a pitiful 10 points from their last 42 available - their display made you wonder how they had got that many as Peter Enckleman had just one save and the main fight from the Hampshire visitors came from their fans being ejected after a scuffle with themselves and City stewards in the Grange End. Nobody wants to be in that number when The Saints go marching in as this loss perilously left them just 1 place and 1 point below the drop with the team beneath them (Sheff Weds) having 2 games in and a vastly superior goal difference.
Worse than this, the club fear Rupert Lowe returning to control of it on Monday. Boss Nigel Pearson, recently departing as Sam Allardyce's assistant at woeful Newcastle must be wondering how he has found a club in a worse mess. I congratulate him for declaring post-match positives while losing to a Cardiff side playing in third gear throughout as his men shockingly lacked in quality and just never hurt us.
To help shore up his side with only bottom club Colchester having a worst defensive record, Pearson brought in two veteran loan defenders in 35 yr old Chris Perry (from Luton) and 37 yr old Chris Lucketti (from Sheffield United) but the latter was unavailable as his wife faced a major operation but his side still contained 4 loan men with Richard Wright, Thomas-Jermaine Wright-Vignal-Perry, Licka-Hammill-Euell-Viafara, Safri and Stern John.
The crowd was disappointing at 12,955 including upto 1,000 Saints. Some decry that but it was nigh on impossible to contact our besieged ticket office all week while less committed City fans and those on tight budgets are saving it for our wondrous but costly Wembley visit next weekend. It was overcast, chilly and breezy - so much for the football, the weather was similar too which was no help to the contest or its style.
Southampton almost shocked City in the opening moments as the Licka the Czech was inches wide after a classy one-two with Viafara the Colombian, the latter also going close moments later with a 25 yard screamer narrowly clearing Enckleman's crossbar. Despite having much of the ball as Cardiff played well within themselves, that was about as good as it got for them.
The game's only goal came on 6 minutes and a beauty it was, out of context with just about anything else we saw, Aaron Ramsey's measured pass saw Thommo chase to the by-line, hook a ball across goal and PAUL PARRY finished with style, falling backwards as he smashed home into the top corner leaving Richard Wright helpless.
City's biggest danger in that opening period came from themselves as Glenn Loovens laid out Tony Capaldi charging through to clear and then Gavin Rae sent Steve McPhail momentarily punch-drunk with a volley straight in his face, both recovered and our only other problems faced were a corner that somehow went right across the face of goal and missed by everyone, a Viafara angled shot into side netting and a centre-half bicycle kick on half-time that turned out to be little more than a pass into Enckleman's arms. They also had one ruled out for offside, long before the ball was netted after Roger Johnson caused problems with an uncharacteristic poor header.
Cardiff should have held a healthier interval lead as smart link play between Thommo and Parry saw Rae race on and then place Joe Ledley clear on goal but his effort was at Richard Wright and cleared behind off his feet. The resulting corner saw an incredible dynamite Peter Whittingham shot sail narrowly over, John Buchanan would have been proud of that hit while Thommo, who was poor value and is not making the most of his golden opportunity with Hasselbaink suspended, should have done better with a header in front of goal.
Other than that, it was a contest largely scrapped out in the middle of the park without great action and the only moments of quality coming from some trademark exquisite Aaron Ramsey play as he again made the game look ridiculously easy, just a touch or turn as he always made space for himself, his passing and vision are outstanding too. What a talent that boy is.
Half-time: CITY ONE, SAINTS NONE
Southampton were sent out early for the second half, Cardiff were more than happy to keep them waiting before we saw another largely uneventful 45 minutes and one without a goal at all although Enckleman was called on to make his first, and only, significant save a few minutes in stopping Stern John, scorer of the goal which sank City at St Mary's earlier in the season, with his feet after the striker got behind Glenn Loovens.
A change on the hour saw Bradley Wright-Phillips replace Viafara which gave the game some noise as his every touch was greeted with cries of "thief, thief, thief, thief, thief" by fans clasping their wallets after the player was arrested and bailed midweek along with another who was not involved today following a theft from staff handbags in a nightclub with, allegedly, some damning CCTV pictures, Wrighty's son cast as the "look out".
Shortly afterwards, City made their first chance as the energetic Gavin Rae, undoubtedly buoyed by his 45 minute midweek show for Scotland, won possession and fed Whitts who sent off another howitzer but it fizzed narrowly wide with Wright beaten. It was Whittingham's last telling moment as he made way for Trevor Sinclair - the latter appearing with fans reading pre-game how he has apparently been advised to quit the game by medics but still feels he has something to offer but there hasn't been too much evidence of that in recent months at City.
The contest was played out almost to a stand still as both sides enjoyed periods of pressure and possession but none of it equated to moments of worry or shots on goal. Predictably, Saints threw caution in the closing moments but Johnson and Loovens were in complete control, you never ever felt an equaliser was coming and Loovens, in fact, was closest to be a scorer a he headed narrowly over from a Joe Ledley corner. Last word (of sorts) went to City as Riccy Scimeca got the briefest of appearances by replacing Thommo for the 4 minutes added time as Cardiff simply ensured they consolidated and matched Southampton's last desperate throw of the dice with attackers Surman and Pericard sent out allowing Enckleman to easily collect his 6th clean sheet in 10 games.
A great result, a comfortable performance in a game in which we lacked intensity but never really needed to show it anyway. It was so low key that the fans rarely felt fired up enough to sing "Wembley", let alone anything else but Dave Jones seems to continue his sequence of either good runs or bad runs. City's 2 points out of 18 has now been replaced by 10 points from the last 12 since beating Middlesbrough in the F.A. Cup quarter-final but this victory saw us rise just 1 place to 12th. One more game before that Wembley encounter when we host fellow Cup semi-finalists West Brom on Tuesday, a game neither side really need this week but a win for either could be very significant.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
An Arse site:
Match report: Arsenal under-18s 6 Cardiff 0
Pubs are the new restaurants of course and now a place many of us go to eat as much as have a drink but, for me, some times are taboo.
(Pic - Goscombe pub in Canton)
Take last night - the missus, still recovering from her major op, wanted to get out for a while and have something to eat. Fair enough I thought - won't be an expensive meal but maybe a decent Italian or Indian.
No, she wanted to go to a pub. My next thoughts were those pubs that aren't really pubs at all - you only go there to eat such as Toby Carvery, Harvester etc.
So we cruised around, I made suggestions and then ended up where the missus wanted to go all along. To Canton and we ended up in The Goscombe.
I like the place but I'm not overly fussed on its menu but eat there on a Friday night? Ugh! We go in - it wasn't late - but the Friday night drinking crowd are arriving. Another hint comes in the form of no menus on any table but they're at the bar and on window sills.
Our food arrives quickly - easy when the missus orders a wrap and I just have ham and chips! - but we are the only ones eating in the pub although, in fairness, a couple of others did too before we left.
I know these pubs advertise food until late and all day everyday but there does seem to be an unwritten rule that it's only for lunchtimes or early evenings really. Please tell me I'm not being stupid!
So what about this addition?? (right)
DEVO FINGER PUPPETS!! Love'em, where can I get them!
"You'd better keep your trophy glistening"
"We're coming in May; to take it away"
"Walking in a Cardiff Wonderland!"
Friday, March 28, 2008
Injuries happen but it's the circumstances and injury type that has Dave Jones asking questions and banging his head on the wall. Darcy picked up a groin injury in training with Wales and, according to Jones, those injuries don't happen in training.
He doesn't elaborate but is perhaps hinting that the warm up/care couldn't have been right.
It must be a devastating blow for the player and it's tough on Cardiff City with Kevin McNaughton also struggling to be available with a hamstring and, with the loan transfer window closed, The Bluebirds will have to use a player out of position in an emergency full back role against Southampton - Trevor Sinclair or Riccy Scimeca - with Sinclair likely to get the nod despite looking less than convincing doing it against Leicester for a half recently.
Stockport's Ashley Williams, a player City have tracked for some time and who had a solid Welsh debut in Luxembourg last night, has gone on loan to the Jacks with a view to a permanent signing.
Cardiff City have never stated they were chasing the player this week but the player himslef let the cat out of the bag telling Welsh media that he was being courted by both clubs earlier in the week. With the club having little or no cover at the back, let's hope it doesn't cost us.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Whilst entirely expected by seasoned Bluebirds observers - City are the only Championship club not to pay a transfer fee this season and few actually did get a loan player today) - it concluded a desparately disappointing season in the various transfer windows where, loan goalkeepers apart, Cardiff did not actually recruit a single player all season to freshen/strengthen after last summer's activity and sold/sent out a tremendous number of players.
Finances are tight, the new stadium, legal matters and mopre clearly do not help but you have to wonder where eactly all the money does go. City over the past couple of years have sold millions in player sales (Earnie, Ginge, Gabbs, Chops, Jerome, Gunter) yet never seem to reduce their debts or spend on replacements.
This season has seen unheralded levels of income arrive at the club with "small" matters like these;
- Cardiff City will surpass their stated break-even crowds
- They have sold £7.5 Million worth of players since pre-season
- They made a healthy amount for Carling Cup progress including £400k from Anfield, a bonus not in their budget.
- City will make infinitely more, a couple of million at least, with their incredible F.A. Cup run, tv money etc
- A £500,000 bonus arerived at the club with Birmingham's Premiership promotion triggering a bonus payment on the Cameron Jerome sale.
And yet they've not signed a single player all season, loan keeper apart and claim an inability to do so.
If they can't spend now and do anything in the market after a season with all those unexpected and unbedgeted bonuses, when will it ever happen?
Can all of this just bebrushed under the carpet by blaming a stadium and Langston?
What is worrying is that Bluebirds followers expect nothing less than more slaes over the summer with Aaron Ramsey and Joe Ledley uppermost in their thoughts.
You do have to wonder sometimes.
"It's strange because Cardiff and Barnsley are playing each other, Good luck to them both, it's what the FA Cup is about. I hope to get down and watch the game. I've still got a lot of friends at Cardiff and I know a few people at Barnsley too."
CARDIFF CITY WILL BE HOPING CHOPRA CONTINUES TO PLAY FOR SUNDERLAND - cHOPS GRABBED A LATE WINNER AT aSTON vILLA LAST WEEKEND - BEFORE THEN AS TWO MORE APPEARANCES TRIGGERS £500,000 PAYMENT TO THE BULBIRDS AS PERT OF HIS TRANSFER DEAL.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
A FREDDY EASTWOOD DOUBLE EITHER SIDE OF HALF-TIME MADE OUR DAY PUNKS!
Playing no marks Luxembourg on their own patch in front of a pitiful crowd - Wales' small following still looked like the majority of the attendance on tv pictures - John Toshack's men gained a comfortable victory even though 14 players were missing (I never knew we had this many players to choose from anyway!) and the side was made up of predominantly Championship men, it was as routine a win as they come.
No Bluebirds were in the side and only one ex-Bluebird, Jason Koumas, in the squad and he was incredibly turning up for his first Welsh overseas encounter in almost three years.
It was a niggly game for a friendly, Luxembourg snapping at Wales skilful men which saw Koumas withdrawn early and Cardiff fans just grateful that Joe Ledley wasn't there.
The goals came on 37, Eastwood forcing himself between two defenders talking a Koumas pass, and arrowing a low effort across the face of goal and then on 47 as Simon Davies, winning his 50th cap, bursting to the by-line for Eastwood to turn home from close in. Freddie would have been glad to play, this was his first start since Boxing Day as he's clearly out of favour with Mick McCarthy at Wolves.
There wasn't any danger at the back for Wales who almost added a third when Craig Morgan hit a post in this unremarkable clash but Hull Boaz Myhill and Stockport's Ashley Williams will never forget it as they won their first Welsh caps.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Mind your pockets this Saturday when they visit Ninian Park and have a chant ready for them.
As expected over the weekend, Joe Ledley was withdrawn - alomng with 10 others - leaving an inexperienced, youthful and largely lower division squad heading for the most meaningless friendly in Luxembourg tomorrow.
As a proud Welsh supporter, even I think this one is indefensible and a waste of time. Ridiculous to hold it at this key stage of the season especially when our next qualifying fixture is still several months away and we have several more freindlies before then.
Joe suffered a slight recurrence of his hamstring tweak during the win over the Wurzels but it is not thought to be too serious but certainly not worth risking with Wales in that game.
Darcy Blake is also a withdrawal from the Under 21’s far more important clash in Bosnia in their glory bid to win their group and, hopefully, qualify for Euro finals. Blake sustained with a groin strain sustained in the Bristol City victory and Aaron Ramsey will be present and joined by Spurs’ ex-Bluebird Chris Gunter. This game takes place tomorrow.
SCOTLAND – Rae (and Alexander)
With several drop-outs for Scotland, a surprise call up in George Burley’s first squad went to a chuffed Gavin Rae who will hope to get some action in their clash with Croatia – a Scottish excuse to thank the Croatians for knocking England out of Euro’2008 and giving us a summer without the never ending hype! Come to think of it, I’d like to thank Croatia too. The Scots also have ‘safe hands’ Neil Alexander, now of Glasgow Rangers, in the squad.
NORTHERN IRELAND (Feeney)
City’s almost forgotten striker Warren Feeney is likely to play for Norn against Ukraine tomorrow in Belfast.
SO WILL CARDIFF CITY BE DOING ANYTHING???
Well they may yet prove me wrong - and I hope they do - but it's become noticeable to me that when we bring in a player, we don't know about it until he is signed - Fowler being the exception.
However recent transfer windows have been full of stories of the club admitting to making approaches for Earnie, XYZ player etc and we always end up signing nobody.
It's almost as if they want to try and appease us by saying they did try to do something when we end up with nothing although other clubs bring in personnel. Got to admit - my first thought when I saw the club confirming an approach for Chopra and (for the 4th or 5th time) Earnie when it appears we had nil chance whatsoever of either is that is was the usual "trick" of letting us down gently as nobody arrives in final window open this season.
I note Dave Jones suggests last night how it is now very unlikely we'll be getting anybody. Well I never.
If this runs true to form, expect the next comment, just after the window closes, to be that having Robbie Fowler back training is like having a new signing anyway.
Monday, March 24, 2008
From the Western Daily Press
Late penalty hits City promotion hopes
From the Bristol Evening Post
Basso's high hopes
We must show our strength - fan's view
Nick's determined to get off the mark
Late penalty blow for city in bad-tempered derby
City Cup comments earn James a two-week BBC ban
ic Wales - United Kingdom
"Senior" personal ads seen in the Dorset press (Who says O.A.P.'s don't have a sense of humour?):
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Today was the first chance for Cardiff City fans to get their hands on those most cherished of tickets, Ambassadors were guaranteed at least two and had four days to book but like the overwhelming majority, I couldn't wait at all.
(Picture left - queue from back of Grange to main gates at 6:10am)
Now I know there's a few days for Ambassadors but I was getting for a group of us and wanted to sort them early before it ate too much into Easter and I won't have the spare time after the weekend.
Got there at 10 past 6 and already the queue ran behind the Grange End onto Sloper Road and back to the main gates - others clearly thinking the same.
(Surreal - A packed Grange End but it's a ticket queue at 7:30am on a Sunday)
Now I know there's a few days for Ambassadors but I was getting for a group of us and wanted to sort them early before it ate too much into Easter and I won't have the spare time after the weekend.
Got there at 10 past 6 and already the queue ran behind the Grange End onto Sloper Road and back to the main gates - others clearly thinking the same.
The temperature was only a couple above freezing, the wind was bitter but there was quite good banter. By us, it was noisy - Dai Hunt was just behind and on form - curiously manic for a spell then tame - some reckoned it was medication kicking in, ebbing away.
The queue was then allowed to go along behind the Bob Bank terrace but held when the roof ends near the Canton Stand.A crazy sight seeing the Grange End almost packed before 8am but there were a few chants with the boys on the Grange and Bob goading each other into song - all surreal.
Big cheers when they finally opened the ticket office at 9 but you were only allowed outside it from the front of the Bob Bank in groups of 50 with a second group of 50 kept just inside the Bob Bank gates. I reckon there were 4-500 in front of me but it still took over 2 hours to move them and be served.
As I left, the Grange End was still packed, can't imagine any of them seeing the ticket office until later this afternoon.I'm just thawing out, my nads are like a walnut but I got great £35 tix on Row 6 in the upper tier about 1/3 of the way along the pitch so very worth it as far as I'm concerned.
(YES! WE GOT TICKETS AND THEY'RE BEAUTIFUL)
Saturday, March 22, 2008
However, even with that, it was very evident that Gavin Rees was well beaten by a bigger, stronger, more powerful opponent even without being stopped in the final 30 seconds after stumbling aroudn following a knockdown. Apparently, scorecards had him 5, 3 and 3 rounds behind.
Hard fight, his work-rate and heart was tremendous but it never matched the nobn-stop all action style that swept him to the title, Gavin always looked second best and fell to his first ever defeat. His punches didn't carry enough power and although he threw more, they lacked accuaracy and he got caught more and hurt far more.
A bad fornight for the camp as Enzo Calazaghe saw Maccinarrelli get obliterated by David Haye a fortnight ago and now this. Let's hope Joe Calazaghe makes up for it in his Vegas showdown with Bernard Hopkins next month.
Boxing: Earache is heartache for Rees as Kotelnik takes titleic Wales
Focus turns to Calzaghe as Rees loses his world crownic Wales
First defeat for Rees costs him Khan paydayGuardian, UK
Boxing: Rees loses title but gains friends as Kotelnik eyes KhanIndependent, UK
CHAMPIONSHIP - Game 38/46 - at NINIAN PARK
CARDIFF CITY (1) 2
TRUNDLE'S CRAP, HE'LL ALWAYS BE
WE BEAT THE WURZLES
QUE SERA SERA
I loves beating The Wurzles I does. Discounting that unforgettable 2003 play-off semi victory and a League Cup 1st leg win (before an Andy Cole hat-trick inspired 2nd leg stuffing),Cardiff City collected their first league triumph since the days of Jimmy Scoular, Brian Clark and Don Murray 37 years and 24 games ago in a fiercely fought, dramatic and high octane Severnside derby with Bristol City at Ninian Park.
City triumphed 2-1 but all the key moments came in an incendiary 10 second half minutes after Roger Johnson superbly headed City into a half-time lead playing into a near gale but then came the mayhem as the Wurzles equalised, then celebrated going ahead before realising their second effort was rightly disallowed. The agony then went to abject despair (and heaven for us!) as, moments later, Peter Whittingham netted a penalty on the rebound (his first attempt was saved) before Brizzle's manager Gary Johnson was sent off all against the backdrop of his Tractor Driving supporters disgracing themselves by getting into fights with City fans in the Family Stand and police and stewards in the Grange End simultaneously. Happy Days indeed!
Dave Jones' new found novelty of making changes and some rotation continued but with the least number of changes in recent times, one was enforced as Thommo replaced the suspended Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink (Thommo ironically losing his place in City's side after a straight silly red in the corresponding Trashton Gate fixture last December) and Aaron Ramsey on the bench replaced by playing skipper Steve McPhail who was excluded from the 16 who gave Colchester their only point out of 24 due to slight injury.
To the 'delight' of Bluebirds, The Wurzles gave Lee Trundle for a couple of months - well, they couldn't possibly have had him playing his usual sub role warming up in front of the Lower Grandstand boys. In fact, until they attacked towards the Family Stand in the second half, he didn't dare run towards either side of the pitch either. He has certainly shed more than a few pounds but delighted us even more by doing nothing to suggest he was anything more than the proverbial 'big fish in a small pond' in Lower League football who is little more than ordinary at this level and played 90 minutes completely bossed by City's defence - what a waste of money indeed.
The Bluebirds seem to be the only side in the Championship without much to play for (I know, win our games in hand and we're 1 point off the play-offs, yeah yeah) but what does it say about this division that the Wurzles are still in prime position for Premiership promotion, possibly as Champions too, with 6 games to go and a goal difference of just +1 and despite a run seeing them take just 3 points from the last 15.
Meantime, the sides battling to oust them are Stoke, Hull, Plymouth, inconsistent West Brom and the route one hell of Watford - each of them looked hugely unimpressive against Cardiff. Come to think of it, what does that say about us that we're stranded in 13th and mid-table obscurity?? Whatever your thoughts, you can't argue that their likeable boss Gary Johnson, a best mate of Dave Jones, has performed an unbelievable job with a side of no stars. Trundle at £1 Million (yes, they really thought he was worth that) was in fact the only player in the side of Basso, Orr-Carey-Elliott-McAllister, McIndoe-Carle-Vasko-Sproule, Trundle-Adebola that cost a fee.
It was a "bubble" coach only supervised trip for Brizzle Boys and their 1,500 were inside a very busy looking Ninian Park by 2pm while the rest of us were have a pre-game Canton bevvy or generally having a more relaxing experience and pleasantly surprised to see the steel structure of a second stand emerging at the new stadium and a new road opened off the Leckwith by-pass which we had to use to get to the ground. NP Towers looked healthy and so, with that away support added, it was a slight surprise the attendance was announced at 16,458.
City must have lost the toss as they were playing towards the Canton Stand facing a very strong near gale force wind and having difficulty in those conditions while it was somewhat easier for Brizzle to sweep forward. I would gladly have taken a 0-0 half-time score so City actually leading was a significant bonus.
The first period was interesting but unremarkable. Bristol had more of the ball and possession the game's most dangerous moment but found Cardiff resolute and they certainly had more chances and the better ones too. In the opening minutes, Thommo turned and twisted inside the box but his shot was blocked for a corner. From that, Loovens smashed a shot on the full but it shot skyward, was skewed on the stiffest of breezes, cleared the stand and possibly hit an unsuspecting shopper on the bonce in Cowbridge Road! Moments later, Basso reacted fast to smother the ball after it ran loose as Thommo was ready to pounce.
What was surprising was that Bristol seemed unprepared for the tactic of a back post cross, which City superbly executed against Middlesbrough, and they got lucky as Whittingham found Roger Johnson at the back stick but he caught the side netting when he should have put it back across goal, Brizzle didn't learn their lesson. Another escape came when Whittingham passed in space for Thommo, his stabbed goalbound effort was just stopped by Basso.
Bristol eventually carved a chance, the wind playing its full part in that as a ball held up then wafted wide where Adebola got it and sent a whistling low ball across the face of goal, McIndoe missing connection by a fraction. For the remainder of the half, the visitors from over the bridge sent over a number of crosses but City were equal to them and rarely found themselves in trouble. The best moment with that wind though had to be Lee Trundle, getting some fearful abuse although not as severe as at Trashton Gate, trying to look cool and ignoring the calls from Lower Grandstand and gobbing but the wind blew it all straight back across his face. Hilarious, that was my first half highlight!
The most freakish moment with the wind came just after the half hour, Orr's cross from 30 yards curled on the breeze, Johnson and Adebola missed it, the ball continued to arc, bounced and hit the outside of Enckleman's post with the keeper looking unsure of himself but it was Cardiff who finished the half stronger as a good move down the right played in Paul Parry but he fumbled his first touch enough to be closed down so saw his effort blocked. Another attack came to an end as an altogether incompetent refereeing performance blew a while for a Wurzle man who went down with City in a promising position, great to see Roger Johnson tell the boys to contest it - bang on! - when the ref seemed to be indicating to allow a Wurzle to have it to himself and hit it downfield.
It's got to the point where it's almost compulsory to moan about a ref and officials but this one was as bad a as it gets. In the end, he gave poor decisions against both sides but City suffered most, first half especially, with defenders climbing all over Thommo winning free-kicks, balls clearly touched out of play by Bristol players see them awarded the throw, a number of poor challenges go unpunished and good ones get penalised. Fussy, inconsistent, unacceptable - so much for his good points, I won't bother with what was really bad with him.
When City won a free-kick, Ledley caught with one of his trademark classy turns on the touchline, the blue majority cheered as if it were goal, such was the irony of the ref giving us something. Better still, Whittingham swung it beautifully to the far post where Brizzle were nowhere to be seen allowing ROGER JOHNSON to emphatically head home high into the net.
Johnson's 7th of the season made the talisman centre-half puts Roger just behind Hasselbaink (8) and Parry (9) in the relatively lukewarm race for City's leading scorer. Just where would Cardiff have been in the table had we a Earnie, Jerome or Chopra who would have got us 20+?
Half-time: CITY 1 WURZLES 0
Brizzle made a change (Fontaine for Vasko) but you always felt control of the game would swing Cardiff's way and it sure did even if the breeze behind them was quite as helpful as it was to Bristol. However, in what was a continuing theme of a side without a 10+ goal striker in it (let alone a 20+ one), chances were there but not taken or wasted to finish it.
The best of these were a fast move where the ball kindly found its way across the box and Ledley was close but unlucky hooking a high effort over the bar, a killer 3 on 1 break but Rae picked the wrong option in Whittingham right when Joe was far better placed left and then Whitts pass was cut out by the lone defender, great work by Joe who was back in the groove saw Thommo narrowly stab wide under pressure from Vasso and other shots wide or blocked. When Brizzle got forward, Trundle more than met his match in Darcy Blake or just kicked crosses behind which only added fuel to the fire of the venom he was getting.
Then came the most infuriating moment as City were ruled offside at a throw in but this was nothing compared to those mad mad few minutes. Bristol were going nowhere so threw on a third striker in the bald veteran Steve Brooker, recalled from a loan at Cheltenham, for the closing 20 minutes, As usual, City and Dave Jones didn't really react to the change in personnel or tactics. City missed yet another chance to finish it just after that as another Whitts set piece just missed the heads of Loovens and Thommo but reached Paul Parry who failed to connect properly on the stretch and only succeeded in helping the ball to Vasso.
From that, disaster, as Bristol got upfield on City's right, McIndoe sent over what was probably their first cross of the half which Loovens missed and ADEBOLA behind him headed in from 6 yards with Enckleman helpless. The proverbial sucker punch but it showed the character of Bristol to have hung in there when the game wasn't going their way at all. What was weird was the lack of noise, it was greeted by complete silence, even the Bristol fans themselves didn't seem noisy.
5 minutes later, the defining moments arrived. It was surreal to see some City fans in the Family Stand get involved with Wurzles fans in a box, I've never seen trouble there before, but McIndoe sent over a near identical ball into a more crowded box but Brooker got behind City to nod low past Enckleman. Bristol went crazy, Trundle celebrated, Gary Johnson was hugging one of his players and none of them saw the lino (proven to be correct) had flagged offside.
To top it, the Carrot Crunchers in the box were now in more arguing and fighting with Family Standers, stewards and robocops poured in as City attacked superbly on the left, Capaldi and McPhail linked up well, McPhail was caught and penalty thank you very much.
With no obvious penalty taker on th pitch, Peter Whittingham stepped up. I hoped he'd just lash it home but he went for placement and got it wrong as Vasso, praying to God for help, saved his second in as many game but Divine Intervention was on hand for Easter and Vasso was crucified as the ball ran back to WHITTIGNHAM who lashed into the unguarded net with Vasso on the floor. The old football joke, Jesus Saves But (Insert name - this time Whittingham Nets The Rebound, certainly came to life.
Now there was trouble at both ends of the pitch with the box being emptied as the Brizzle fans were evicted at the Family Stand end to waves of cheerio from the kids and the Farmer's Boys were at it the Grange End too, fists clearly swinging at police confronting them. CCTV will sort them out for sure. But the next flash point was in the dugouts as Gary Johnson punched the ball out of the fourth official's hands and was shown to the stands by ref Stroud with cheerio waves from all around the ground this time. 10 minutes that certainly had it all.
The final few minutes were the Aaron Ramsey show as he came on for Whittingham, subbed before the game restarted from his penalty, and who then skipped past, passed around and showed all his class. One flick set up Ledley inside the box, his ball across it was destined for the corner until Vasso produced a truly outstanding save to prevent a bigger defeat. He could only look on however as Ramsey hit a piledriver from 30 yards that missed the goal by the tiniest of fractions.
Four minutes were added, many fans seemed shocked, seeming to forget we'd witnessed a half with two goals scored, one disallowed, 4 subs and a sending off for starters but there was never any question that Bristol would hit back a second time with the crowd happy to sing, "Trundle, Trundle, what's the score?", a few more chants of Wem-ber-lee and a final whistle roar like we'd just won there.
Another superb team effort but questions will be asked about that goal conceded, the midfield duo of Rae and McPhail didn't really shine and the front line of Parry and Thommo playing too far apart and hardly ever linking prevented a more emphatic victory. But who cares for now? We beat The Wurzles and I couldn't be happier!
Jolly Roger in no mood to fly flag for FA Cup
ic Wales, United Kingdom
Whitts finds perfect timing to be a City winner
City’s Johnson still has play-off aim
ic Wales, United Kingdom
'We can still make the play-offs' - Jones
ic Wales, United Kingdom - 9 hours
Jones fear over City ‘crown jewels’ raid
ic Wales, United Kingdom
Peter Whittingham piles pressure on Bristol
Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom
Cardiff City 2 Bristol City 1: Whittingham trips up Bristol on the ...
Whits ends perfect week in style
ic Wales, United Kingdom
Cardiff triumph leads to chaos
Times Online, UK
JONES' BLUEBIRDS KEEP THEIR FOCUS
Sportinglife.com, UK - Mar 22, 2008
Court victory lifted massive weight, admits Jones
ic Wales, United Kingdom - Mar 21, 2008
Cardiff 2 Bristol C 1
The Sun, UK
Championship round-up... Johnson’s red rage - Bristol boss off as ...
Daily Mail, UK - Mar 22, 2008
GARY ON A DISAPPOINTING DAY
BCFC, UK - Mar 22, 2008
Cardiff 2 Bristol City 1
Sportinglife.co.za, UK - Mar 22, 2008
Cardiff City 2-1 Bristol City
Vitalfootball, UK - Mar 22, 2008
Chopra has been sparing used at Sunderland, often played on the wing, usually appearing from the bench and currently not in the matchday 16 so it's no surprise to hear whispers that he would love to come back, particularly as he is eligible to play in the F.A. Cup but it's not to be.
City are also believed to have made yet another approach - it must be their third or fourth - to bring back Rob Earnshaw on-loan and, perhaps, with Derby certain to be relegated, it suggests a chance of success but this has more of a chance but to counter-balance that, he started for Derby vs Man United last weekend and is cup-tied so it doesn't seem to be an obvious choice.
Another whisper is that City are considering Henri Camara, the Senegalese international, on loan at West Ham from Wigan but getting little action and none at present.
The loan window closes next Thursday so City certainly need to move fast.
Cardiff keen to make new signingsBBC Sport - UK
Friday, March 21, 2008
And Roger Johnson is happy to talk about it. It's good to see our players talking to the media again, their self-imposed ban was pointless and counter-productive.
From today's Western Mail
Trundle promised a warm welcome at Ninian Park
ic Wales - United Kingdom
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Couldn't see that one coming eh?
Barnsley free to play goalkeeper Steele in Cup semi-final
Guardian - UK
Financial reprieve for Cardiff City
Financial reprieve for Cardiff City
Here's just a smattering of the coverage so far;
CARDIFF CITY OFFICIAL WEBSITE
Cardiff win high court reprieve
Cardiff rescued from financial disaster
Cardiff fend off claims for loan payment
Stuff.co.nz, New Zealand
Ridsdale relief at reprieve
The Press Association
Cardiff thrown financial lifeline
Bluebirds get court lifeline
Bluebirds saved from loan crisis
Cardiff fend off claims for immediate payment
International Herald Tribune
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Cardiff Council is throwing its support behind a global initiative to turn off the lights for an hour on Saturday, March 29.
Earth Hour was conceived by WWF (formally the World Wildlife Fund) to deliver a powerful message about the need for urgent action on global warming.
Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off lights for one hour and was pioneered last year by WWF-Australia in Sydney when 2.2 million people and 2,100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights.
This massive collective effort reduced Sydney's energy consumption by 10.2 per cent for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for a year.
Following Sydney's lead, cities around the world have already signed up to encourage residents and businesses to turn off their lights for an hour from 8pm to 9pm on March 29.
Cardiff will be joining some of the world’s major capital cities, including Copenhagen, Toronto, Chicago, Melbourne, Brisbane, Tel Aviv, Bangkok and San Francisco, in calling on people to turn off non essential lights for an hour.
Morgan Parry, Head of WWF Cymru said: “We are delighted to see Cardiff Council set an example to the rest of Wales by helping the capital become among one of the first British cities to get involved in turning off all non-essential lighting for Earth Hour.
“Earth Hour will send a strong, symbolic signal that people all around the world are deeply concerned about climate change and expect their political leaders and businesses to take action before it’s too late,” says Morgan Parry. “Climate change is a global challenge that requires global solutions and Earth Hour is making it clear to those in power that people across the world are ready to get involved.”
Barnsley may have red shirts to City's blue but both have white shorts. It is believed Cardiff could have got around this by wearing blue shorts or, certainly, they could have tossed a coin to decide who wears their normal colours but Cardiff passed on both as the players decided black is best having worn those colours in beating Middlesbrough.
In the grand scheme of things, perhaps it ain't that important but 'd love nothing more than to see City run out in their tradtional and much loved blue at Wembley and I can't imagine clubs let Man U, Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea would casually let their players decide what colours to wear.
What's done is done but it sure disappoints me.
Cardiff City official website announcement