Thursday, December 16, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
CARDIFF CUT DOWN TO SIZE BY FOREST
Cardiff Citylost their second successive home game in abject style – this time by 2-0 to – and in doing so, immediately surrendered their hard earned top spot in the division. Nottingham Forest
Cardiffdid not play well and Forest were predictably tough, organised and uncompromising closing down City and not allowing them to play in exactly the same way as did a fortnight earlier in the last home outing. Swansea
However this time it was all about poor player performances rather than manager Dave Jones’ tactics and selections even if they could still be questioned in part.
Cardiff’s passing was atrocious, Forestreally won the ball, we just kept giving it to them. Forest’s goals, both well taken, were still both borne from pitiful defending.
Clear cut chances were inexplicably wasted and Cardiff were completely disjointed all afternoon as just about every player playing poorly and it is time to ask serious questions about one or two of them.
Pre-game, the mood was confident with City top of the table and deservedly so, Jay Bothroyd incredibly getting a midweek start for England and although everyone expected a tough afternoon – the sides shared two draws last season - City have still enjoyed the upper hand in recent times and Forest, despite fast improving, had only had 1 away win in 21 attempts.
However a headache came with the loss of Chris Burke who failed to recover from a thigh strain in
Scunthorpelast week. should be able to deal with it but, plainly, they weren’t and that is worrying. Without him, we lacked width, pace, energy and work-rate going forward while nobody was running at Forest’s defence and apart from Bellamy once, nobody got behind them either. City were also missing Lee Naylor to injury but few seemed too concerned about that, he has all too often looked the weakest link of Cardiff’s defence. Cardiff
Dave Jones dealt with it by calling up Jason Koumas, reverting to Gyepes and Hudson in central mid, moving SuperKev from right to left back and slotting Darcy Blake into the right back role.
: Heaton; Blake-Gyepes-Hudson-McNaughton; Koumas-Olifinjana-Whittingham-Bellamy; Chopra-Bothroyd. Jones was suffering from laryngitis and so was so to stand on the touchline with arms folded having nothing to say … as usual! Cardiff
Pantomime season is due to start shortly but it’s been running at
Forestoff the pitch all season. Manager Billy Davies has been a frequent and outspoken critic of his board with matters coming to a head as they failed to back in the summer transfer window. A so-called Transfer Policy Committee captured only one summer target and there was spats with both Cardiffand at their conduct after they appeared to be tapping up Whittingham and Pratley. Now Davies is at loggerheads with Forest’s club owner having missed a couple of matches citing family illness and accused of returning home to Scotland after weekend games and not being seen back in Nottingham until 48 hours before their next weekend match. Swansea
Foresthas been a slow burner on the pitch and are slowly but surely coming into contention. They’ve now lost fewer games than but have been a draw specialist yet it’s 14 points in 7 outings as they’ve risen to 6th and in the play-off picture. Cardiff
Pre-game, Alarm front man and rocker Mike Peters sang The Bells of Rhymney on the pitch, it was soon followed by The Balls Up of Cardiff but they started well enough. Bellamy firing over early on, Bothroyd wide and Whittingham grazing the top of the crossbar from an edge of area set piece after Olifinjana won a free-kick.
A key moment arrived however when Bellamy picked out Jay with a peach of a pass, Jay looks favourite to score, he managed to get past keeper Lee Camp but then rolled the ball into the side-netting from an angle. “
England, you’re ‘aving a laugh” Forestfans chanted at him.
However it was an even battle and Forest gave as good as they got before taking the lead with a super goal on 25 as their man of the moment Lewis McGugan struck home from 25 yards with a dipping volley but how and why was he given so much time to take the ball, control it and shoot unopposed? Was Tom Heaton also caught off his line as the shot only appeared to be halfway up the goal yet cleared him?
Unfortunately, City had no response to that and looked like a disorganised mess, a problem they just did not resolve.
It’s hard to know where to start when criticising players but here we go with some key lowlights;
Michael Chopra – What was wrong with his fitness? Was his trip to
too enjoyable? He had no pace or movement whatsoever and was getting beaten in sprints by big and burly Dubai Forestcentre-halves. Many fans have observed Chops seems to be carrying a few more pounds than usual, is it catching up with him? He was taken off at half-time and rightly so.
Craig Bellamy – Is it time to ask what exactly he’s offering to us at present? There’s a good argument that he may be getting picked by name and not on merit. Surely he’s going to come into his own and offer us more soon but he’s really been very average in recent games.
Jason Koumas – Will he ever come good? Once again anonymous and the problem is that he’s not just lost all pace – which often saw him check out and send the ball backwards when given it wide or advanced – but he also seems to have lost his passing quality too. If we’re honest, Koumas and Keogh were two key signings, both are proving to be poor captures.
Darcy Blake – Nowhere near as good this season as he was last season. Did his passes only find red shirts all afternoon? However it couldn’t have been easy with Koumas in front of him.
Olifinjana – Personally, I don’t think he’s played that well for the past 3-4 games. Today, he tried to be City’s playmaker and that’s just not his game.
Peter Whittingham – I love watching Whitts and he’s pure class but an entire afternoon observing him trying to pick out killer or long passes is not what he’s about or should be doing.
I could go on but that’s enough. Collectively, City were a mess. The lack of movement on the pitch was shocking, City’s tactics largely revolving around hoof-ball punts, sometimes aimlessly, to the front was dull. Teams may be gradually getting to grips with City. When we’re allowed to play, there is nobody better in this division but we have to earn that right (today we never eve n tried to) and must have a Plan B and, on the evidence of the
Swanseaand Foresthome displays, we just don’t have that in the locker.
Half-Time: City 0
came back with Drinkwater replacing the ineffective/bloody useless (choose your adjective) Chopra and Bellamy moved alongside Jay. Danny D finally added some zest, energy and bite into central midfield and Cardiff slowly but surely, got some momentum going which became a steady steam of pressure. Cardiff
However when the chances came, they were wasted. None more so than a delightful move which saw Whittingham play a great pass behind Forest, Bellamy get onto it like a F1 driver and send over the perfect ball for Jay to head in from of goal. Inexplicably, he sent it straight at Camp. Likewise, a corner kick saw the ball met by Olifinjana close range and centre of goal but he nodded it a good 4 yards wide.
Forest were in no mood to surrender what they had earned and the free-kick count ended up 23 to 9 in Cardiff’s favour, Forest also getting 3 second half yellow cards but City were unable to do anything with them.
Just like the
Swanseadefeat, as poorly as played, no side at any level can afford to waste chances like those presented today. A side aiming for automatic promotion must be more clinical, no excuses. City sent over a huge number of crosses and balls forward but just 1 effort on target in 90 minutes tells its own story, that was Jay’s wasted header. Cardiff
Adam Matthews replaced a poor Darcy Blake for the final 10 minutes but it was Forest who benefitted as they advanced way too easily down Cardiff’s right, Matthews being well beaten, McGugan found sub Dexter Blackstock and he had all the time and space to place a shot wide of Tom Heaton inside the area.
Forest’s 1,500 fans were naturally going crazy, 5,000 or more of
’s in the crowd of 23,526 walked out. Cardiff
Those who stayed were held back for even longer as the game ended on a sour note when Seyi Olifinjana caught Blackstock on his leg with his studs. It looked an instant red card to me but both ref and lino either missed it or didn’t agree. Blackstock, after lengthy treatment, was stretchered away with news that it’s likely to be cruciate ligaments rather than a broken leg but that would end his season anyway.
6 minutes of added time saw more huff’n’puff from City but nil quality.
fall to 2nd and still in a position that 22 of the Championship’s other sides will envy but they clearly have some sorting out to do. Assistant Manager Terry Burton tried to play it down as a “bad day at the office”. In some respects he’s right, it was a tight game in which Forest took their limited chances and Cardiff failed to do so. However there is a bigger underlying problem than that. What we’ve witnessed in the last two home games is unacceptable. Cardiff , Jones and the players know that too. Burton
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Monday, October 04, 2010
Craig Bellamy is on the score sheet for the Bluebirds as they remain in the automatic promotion places. (UK users only).
Sunday, October 03, 2010
Saturday, October 02, 2010
Barnsley suffered their first home defeat of the season as Craig Bellamy and
I almost made the trip but domestic chores and finances won the day this time, I was gutted to miss out.
Brian Flynn and
City: Heaton; McNaughton-Gyepes-Hudson-Naylor; Whittingham-Blake-Olinfinjana-Burke; Bothroyd-Bellamy.
Barnsley recorded a double over City last season but they tend to make up the numbers in the Championship’s reckoning and went into the clash as the perfect average side – 9 games, 3 won, 3 drawn, 3 lost, 13 scored, 13 conceded. Their highlight was a recent shock 5-2 thrashing of
The first half was truly dreadful, neither side able to put a move together, the ball going into touch more than an egg chasing game, quality was desperate. However
Jay Bothroyd looked up and swept a pass to Peter Whittingham deep inside the far corner of the penalty area, he took the ball down and laid it back superbly for BELLAMY and his finish was class personified as he passed the ball around keeper Steele, may Championship players would have gone for a hit and hope option.
If the first half lack action, the 2nd half more than made up for it starting with Bothroyd being denied from distance by Steele, Whittingham almost scoring direct from a corner and the next one being headed goalwards by Gyepes, turned in by Bothroyd but it was ruled out for offside with City celebrating.
City’s defence has looked suspect this season and they narrowly survived one silly goalmouth scramble but, no lessons learned, paid for it as 5 or 6 attempts to clear were all fluffed, Hudson miscontrolled and Shackell sent the loose ball home. It was schoolboy stuff all round.
That was on 63 minutes and it felt ominous for
The resulting corner want close but the next put City back in front as it dropped for Whittingham, his shot was going in anyway but OLIFINJANA made sure from a couple of feet.
Oli almost killed the game off altogether hitting the post from another set piece and how City almost paid the price as Darcy Blake earned a second yellow card and
To show their power live, enjoy this.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
BBC Online show 2 minutes highlights of every Championship game, if they manage to scrape out 30 seconds from
Positives? Heaton, Hudson, Blake (back at centre half) and McNaughton played well enough and Lee Snail-or went off with a knock. You’ll notice not a single midfielder or forward is named, enough said. The only other positive is City remained 2nd, kept a clean sheet and collected a point, we had to be grateful for small mercies.
Problems? Every where I feckin’looked. No cohesion, no discernable pattern of play, energy lacking, no creativity or invention … and then there were the really bad aspects!
Too many players were found wanting. Naylor looked poor again in too many moments. Maybe 4 years coasting it in the lesser Scottish wilderness with Celtic has blunted him but Palace became the latest side to create just about everything on his side of the pitch although, in fairness, Wilfried Zaha, up against him looks a very useful prospect. Adam Matthews, lambasted by Jones and bombed from the side after 1 outing at
Jason Koumas started and proceeded to show us magic, he looked invisible on the pitch all night. The player still looks short of fitness and, at present, a shadow of the player we loved last time we saw him in a City shirt. I honestly don’t think he made a single telling pass or touch or flick all night.
Seyi Olifinjana was welcomed back but was another who did not look fully fit and showed his frustrations, he could easily have been red carded in the second half for flicking out a boot at a Palace opponent. We all know how he can break up play but on a night where he needed to produce intensity and drive, he appeared to be continually holding up play in City’s midfield.
Peter Whittingham, allowed to take and waste every set piece, was dropped into centre midfield and spent the whole evening trying to dink a ball over the top for Bothroyd. I’ve had more fun in a dentist’s waiting room than watching that.
None of the midfielders got close to the strikers, let alone make a run beyond them and all too often, Cardiff had too few players in and around the box which helped make it easier for Palace on a night when City’s tactics were as suspect as their commitment.
Andy Keogh once again looked shocking. No partnership whatsoever with Jay Bothroyd, I’m assuming he was instructed to play behind Jay and nowhere near him. Either way, take his Millwall winner out of the equation, and he’s really looking a poor signing. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I saw him beaten in a 25 yard sprint against 37 year old Edgar Davids who played well and surprised me by how small and diminutive he was.
With all that on show – you can add in Burke running his nuts off but failing to produce and Jay holding, turning away and circling but getting nowhere – and a sub’s bench offering no real options to the unfolding problems, City actually succeeded following Saturday’s poor display in the win over Millwall with an even worse one.
It looked like a home banker and I was even more confident of a City win at kick-off with news that Gabor Gyepes and Steve McPhail were dropped to the bench, Blake was moved to centre back, Olifinjana was back from injury and Koumas was starting alongside him in a line up that read Heaton; McNaughton-Hudson-Blake-Naylor; Burke-Koumas-Olifinjana-Whittingham; Keogh-Bothroyd.
Palace had lost all 4 previous aways without scoring and conceding 12 and looked limited with two banks of four playing deep and playing very close together yet Cardiff had no idea how to get past, through or around them and once the visitors realised how limited City were, they attacked with invention.
Cardiff started brightly but little did we know that the highlight of that spell - Tom Heaton catching the corner, crocking Danns, punting the ball downfield to see Burke close in on goal and hit a shot that was too close to Speroni who blocked it with ease - would be Cardiff’s only worthwhile attacking moment of the night.
The half was as drab as the dull night and drizzly swirling run, Cardiff becoming more and more laboured producing little for the 22,000 crowd (250 or so from Palace) to sign about.. Many of the crowd near me were taking their entertainment from watching a lone bat flying around the stadium.
Tom Heaton had to save smartly from Own Garvan’s first half header (yep, from a cross after Naylor was left behind) but excelled second half with his stops from Bennett and an incredible save to beat out Counago’s far post header from 3 yards blocking on the line (And, yep, both those headers were from crosses on Naylor’s side as well). A couple of crosses zipped in or across City’s box but Hudson, Blake and McNaughton dealt with them as, yep, they were all from the left.
Dave Jones had 7 subs but none you fancied to change the game – however surely Rae or Wildig should have had a chance at the expense of Koumas or Olifinjana??? - so his only move was to give the otherwise ignored Paul Quinn the final 10 minutes as Naylor limped off.
The frustrated and quiet crowd were remarkably patient and tried to lift City with support but found themselves reduced to pointless appeals for penalties and free-kicks, mostly for Jay falling about and hacked off with a Premier League ref (Steve Tanner) who gave Jay and Burke two harsh yellow cards.
Right now, I’m pleased with our league position but what I’m watching really is just not good enough.
Alhtough rumours have been about the return of Seyi Olinfinjana for some time, he may miss out again this evening and return for the visit to Barnsley on Saturday. Oli has been out since a foot injury sustained in the Hull home win on September 11th.
However there is speculation that Michael Chopra may be on the bench for tonight's hom,e clash with Crystal Palace. Chops was the victim of an unpunished appalling challenge in the home demolition of Doncaster on August 21st. At the time, he was reported as likely to be out for 2 to 3 months but he has responded very well to treatment and is back in full training. If not in the squad tonight, Chops is almost certain to be in the Barnsley squad on Saturday.
Of the others, Craig Bellamy is unlikelyto be risked in this week's games as he is still not back in full, impact training although there is a small chance he could feature at Barnsley. If he misses out altogether, that may rule him out for Wales Euro'2012 double header with Switzerland and Bulgaria next week. City fans - and management - would be concerned to see him in those games having not played for City since August 28 and having played no football this month other than Wales defeat in Montenegro at the startb of the month, a game which appears to have accelerated his problems. Cardiff have a heavy October fixture list and will need Bellamy for that so 2 Wales games in 5 days before it is a real worry given his problems.
The other key players - Chris Riggott and Danny Drinkwater - remain on schedule to be considered for Cardiff's first game after the international break which is Bristol City at CCS on October 16th.
Thankfully, City have no new problems after the weekend win over MillwaIl and will be strong favourites to complete a South London double with tonight's visit from Crystal Palace.
If Cardiff think they have problems, they can think again. Palace will have 8 key players absent and have lost all 4 away trips this season failing to score and conceding 12. Home banker then ... it had better be!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Andy Keogh's last-minute header seals all three points for Cardiff City against 10-man Millwall (UK users only).
It is being reported that Peter Ridsdale will receive his final payment in mid-October finally taking him off the gravy train that he rode for as long as possible at Cardiff City. Ridsdale will prefer to remind the public how he removed Sam Hammam, created a play-off challenging side, took City to a F.A. Cup Final and oversaw the arrivals of the Malaysians.
However Cardiff fans know it came at a very heavy cost which nearly saw the club collapse. Fans will also remain bitter over how Ridsdale treated them badly and seemed to mislead them which ultimately brought about demos earlier this year to vent their feelings.
T.G. and key investor Vincent Tan are supposed to have driven a hard bargain and, in the process, hopefully delivered a more secure and forward looking Cardiff City and show that they’re here for a while, not just a one season tilt.
Ridsdale was entitled to nearly £1M to leave the club (I’ve no idea how he managed such an outrageous amount on top of everything else he plundered) but the Malaysians are reported as having him settle for £500k but also made it a condition that he sold his shares to them.
PR’s shares were also controversial. Buying them at 15.69p, a price nobody else could get near, he also had a stadium completion bonus which were converted into shares at an incredible 11.11p giving him over 4.5M shares, 10.1% of the stock.
However, TG and VT are believed to be buying them at 5p. Their larger stake in a club they kept in business and have turned around dramatically makes for fantastic news.
Cardiff City prospect Nat Jarvis made his football league debut at the weekend but for Southend United rather than the Bluebirds.
Jarvis, 19 next month, featured in several pre-season games and made a favourable impression on City fans, particularly for a display at Notts County. However with 8 new signings, he is clearly not going to be involved this term unless there is a major crisis.
It slipped under the radar that he was loaned to League Two Southend but his debut came at Hereford when he got on the pitch as a 77th minute sub with his side already leading 3-1 which proved to be the final score.
He is one of three Cardiff players currently on loan joining Anthony Gerrard (Hull) and Martin John (Newport).
I know nothing about Masters In France other than they’re a Cardiff group, their last single (Greyhound) was a Radio 1 single of the week and their new single featured in this video features Joe and Enzo Calzaghe plus a postcard to Romilly Road, Canton which is where I was grew up.
The song is pretty good too … … … …
Saturday, September 25, 2010
CARDIFF CITY still misfiring and still missing their big hitters still recorded a late, late 2-1 win over Millwall and climb back to 2nd spot in a Championship. The winner came from an otherwise poor (and he wasn’t the only one) Andy Keogh flicking home an 88th header finally taking advantage of playing 10 men for 50 minutes.
An action packed 1st half saw the visitors early lead swiftly cancelled out by Jay Bothroyd who went on to miss chances that should have got him a hat-trick while Trotter was sent off FOR The Lions and Whittingham had a penalty saved for City. The second half, though, was tedious as a shockingly poor
It is admirable that South Wales Police and the club are working hard to reduce restrictions for travelling fans. A compulsory “bubble” coach only fixture for many years, Millwall fans were allowed to travel independently and collect their match tickets at a rendezvous in Cardiff West Services. To still encourage coach travel, Millwall nobly charged £10, enough to entice far more fans that would otherwise have visited, nearly 1,200 supporters came down when they normally bring just a couple of hundred.
However the negative aspect of this arrangement was that kick-off time was brought forward to midday and it will be the same again when home to
With limited options, Dave Jones named the same ten outfield men who lost out at
Mee-Waw from Sarf Larndarn are back in the Championship after 5 years thanks to achieving what
After ex-Jacks Manager Paolo Sousa saw off City at Leicester and ex-Jack Jason
Cardiff started brightly and had Millwall on the back foot penned in their own half but their first break out on 10 minutes saw them score and, again, ask plenty of questions about City’s defending which was just not good enough. The impressive new Welsh international Steve Morison who troubled City’s defence all afternoon burst past Gabor Gyepes and was denied by a last gasp Mark Hudson challenge but failing to shape up, the ball ran loose for Kevin Lisbie to skin Naylor with far too much ease and square for SCOTT BARRON to turn home centre of goal completely unchallenged.
Millwall fans celebrated and were vocal but the kids in the Family Stand were giving it to them and getting it back. Quite surreal.
For a while after the goal,
However drama was to follow starting with Jay Bothroyd’s equaliser on 25, Tony Naylor’s long throw causing havoc (perhaps his only positive moment of the game) as it was allowed to bounce in the box, Whitts nearly got a shot away but the ball ran loose for JAY BOTHROYD to place past Forde from close range. It was Jay’s 7th of the season, already more than halfway to beating last year’s total.
City finally brightened up and Jay should have had a first half hat-trick as two shots fizzed wide, a superb Whittingham run and cross set him up for a perfect far post header but he placed it to close to Forde and then a dazzling move and another fantastic Whittingham urge saw him teed up on the edge of the box with an inviting goal but he steered wide.
A significant moment came just past the half hour as Trotter who was playing really well caught Darcy studs out on the ankle, a careless rather than malicious challenge for which he had an instant red card. Darcy recovered from what initially looked a serious injury after almost 5 minutes of treatment.
That added time brought it own drama as Peter Whittingham was bundled down cutting inside the last defender – easy penalty I thought, not so thought others – only to be denied his spot kick by Forde, more of a good save than a bad miss. It leaves Whitts still looking for his 1st goal this term having netted 26 last season.
Half-time: City 1 Millwall 1
The 2nd half promised much and delivered next to nothing. Millwall dropped deeper but still carried a threat partly thanks to Morison but
Up front however, City offered next to nothing and never showed they had an extra man out there. Stuck between boredom and frustration, it was hard work just watching it.
Jason Koumas replaced Steve McPhail (McPhail’s name being announced as he walked off the pitch was the only time all afternoon that I realised he was on it in the first place) and I thought he would find the time and space to make a telling pass or run, he didn’t.
Keogh shot narrowly wide falling, Koumas saw a shot blocked on the line and, as I recall it, that was the sum extent of telling City moments in the half until, 2 minutes left, Bothroyd took the ball on the touchline, drifted in, sent a ball in the box and ANDY KEOGH’s deft flicked header found the far corner of goal perfectly. His first goal for 13 months which he celebrated in shirt off run to the corner routine as City fans went ballistic and Millwall’s stopped all their celebratory gloating thinking they’d achieved a result. Now they had to put up with “One nil and you ***ed it up”.
There were plenty of players to be concerned about – Naylor, the Gyepes-Hudson partnership, Keogh – and only Jay, Blake and McNaughton who played reasonably well as well as Gavin Rae who once more looked useful from the bench. Will City go up or even stay in contention playing like this? Not a chance. The sooner the big hitters are back, the better as we look very ordinary without them.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
It really doesn't seem that long ago and I didn't realise he was still just a kid and only 23 at the time but today marks the 30th Anniversary of Johnny Owen getting knocked out and sent into a coma against Pintor in L.A. and subsequently losing his life a few weeks later.
An amazing man, quietly spoken and puny looking, yet he was a boxing great and a warrior in the ring.
My one abiding memory of Johnny was outside the ring as he used to holiday every summer with his family at Fontygary caravan site in Rhoose. My parents had a caravan there too as I used to stay there every weekend and through the summer.
Johnny, even though on holidays, would go on punishing runs and training regimes daily, sometimes morning and evening, and a few of us used to watch him and try to keep up with him. We had no chance.
His training at Fonty often ended at the "99 steps", a winding and different height set of steps from the cliff to the beach near Aberthaw power station. At my fittest - and I was once upon a time - my mates and myself used to times how quickly we could get up them. It was lung bursting stuff and we'd be knackered and lying on the grass at the top after 1 attempt ... Johnny Owen would run up and down them 10 times barely breaking sweat!
RIP Johnny, never forgotten you, never will.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
If true and they play, it can only be good news for City as both are pivotal players in the side.
Bellamy is expected to be back for the Milwall home clash next weekend but Danny Drinkwater is set to be absent for another 3 weeks and Michael Chopra a week longer.
Although unconfirmed at this stage, the match is set to be streamed live on the Bet 365 and William Hill websites so worth check it later.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Worth watching the 1st minute just to see Naylor's goal but avoid the rest of it!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Early the following morning, we left for Lincoln, where City were playing an early season game. We weren't hooligans, we were just a bunch of lads who followed City everywhere. Our pockets were full of pastiche calling cards.... "You have just met The Gregarious Crew."
I think we travelled up in a fishmonger's van that morning. It stank, and we lay on bean bags in the back drinking cider.
Ex-City striker Steve Thompson sings a song about it
and City's 2008 F.A. Cup Final appearence ... eventually
The early nineties were a great time to watch football. Post-Hillsborough, there was a unity amongst fans, and hooliganism all but died out. It meant that we could drink and socialise freely in the City centres across the old 4th Division, without fear of trouble. I remember that we had a great time in Lincoln City Centre that morning and sang all the way to the game.
The game itself was awful, as most were. It was 0-0 I think, and about 150 City fans were watching from the open terrace in a bit of a stupor. Then from nowhere, a small police riot squad arrived, complete with helmets , visors and a small camera crew. Seizing on the absurdity of the situation, we started performing. Stripped to the waist, we started doing "the Ayatollah" for the cameras. I remember running around the terrace for most of the game, trying to get the rest of the City fans to join in. Some did, but most just called me a t**t.
These were the days of inflatable bananas at Man City, boing-boing at West Brom, and a general absurdist reaction to the horrors of Hillsborough and Heysel. Our little crew took to this atmosphere of surrealism with zeal. There were lots of stupid chants at the time, including "I'm Henry the 8th, I am", "Any Dream Will Do", (in tribute to City player Jason Donovan), and various routines involving stripping, hopping and disco dancing.
But it was the Ayatollah that caught on, thanks to some happy coincidences which caused big away support in the early nineties. There was the game at Hereford, where Rick Wright had told the English club that City fans would be boycotting the game. 4,000 turned up. I remember the whole traffic jam of City fans Ayatollahing through the windows of their cars, and for me that was the moment I knew it had caught on. There was an end of season Ayatollah fancy dress party at Peterborough where myself and another Ayatollah were encouraged by police to preach from the fences, and judge the great cross-terrace Ayatollah races. The Ayatollah was now firmly established.
It all stopped for me at a Welsh Cup semi final at the Vetch in about 1994/5 when I celebrated Chris Pike's winning goal with an Ayatollah performance at the front of the terrace. I was arrested and charged with incitement to riot. I was released after the football spotters told the regulars that I was no troublemaker and video evidence proved my innocence.
But that finished it for me. I had never been involved with the police before or since. I could sense that times were changing and there was a return to the bad old days where a nervous police force were clamping down on any form of exhibitionist behaviour. I haven't done the ayatollah for years now, but I still smile a bit to myself when I see it performed, and watch how it has grown and developed from the U Thant gigs. The best Ayatollah ever? Probably the home game against Man City in the FA Cup, 1994, when the TV cameras captured the Bob Bank in full head-slapping action.