"...this is the most articulate and accurate piece written about the club for years!" - Tales from the Front, http://www.otib.co.uk/

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Singing the Blues: A Cardiff view of today's defeat

Bearing in mind I’ve just returned home to my CF post-code after watching three City players put the ball in the net in the Severnside derby, yet am still facing work on Monday morning after a 2-1 defeat, this is one of those nights where the feeling of a need to write overwhelms.

However, I feel my words may be tainted by disappointment – with the result, with the way luck seemed to fall, with some of the decisions made by the apparently top-class officials and most certainly with some of the so-called City fans who have decided to react to their own frustration already, via twitter, in abusing one of our players.  I also figured most from the West Country who’ll read this will have already been poring over the forums and Twitter and have a gist of the outlook of their companion fans.

So, instead here’s something a bit different.  Seeing as I’m based t’other side of the bridge and take a higher-than-average interest in the goings-on in the nation’s capital, I follow a handful of Cardiff fans on Twitter – largely those who write a bit themselves and can count themselves amongst the more normal, rational and, dare I say, educated of supporters.

I thought I’d share insight from a number of them into tonight’s game, with a kinda retrospective commentary on the match – and the result – from the Bluebirds camp.  The cast, in no particular order are:

·         Barrie McAuliffe, Cardiff City Press officer (@BeanHead’s other half)

·         Ben Dudley, a die-hard travel-anywhere fan who writes www.myonlycardiff.com

·         Joe Harrison, newly appointed co-editor of The Seventy Two

·         Matthew Gabb, prominent member of Cardiff’s 1927 club

·         Phil Stead (no relation), author of the multiple award-winning Ffwtbol website
(Cardiff fans, I know it grates some of you, but in this narrative you will be identified as Cardiff, whilst mentions of ‘City’ are obviously referring to the Bristol version.  At least when you’re called Cardiff you know people are talking about you!).

Pre-match discussion naturally centred on the team selection, with the general consensus being one that many outside Cardiff would probably share – a mixture of surprise and disappointment that Robert Earnshaw wasn’t even in the squad.

JH: Pissed off. No changes from Cardiff, again. No Earnie on the bench, again.

This perhaps looked like it was going to come back to haunt Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay later in the game as it drifted towards a 1-1 draw, with both Joe and Phil making light of the lack of perhaps the most natural goal-scorer as an option.

PS: Get Earnie on....oh ok....erm Darcy Blake.
JH: Now would be a good time to make a change up front...oh wait.

Once the game got underway the first-half included a decent opening quarter of an hour and a strong penalty appeal for City but this was followed by little and was largely underwhelming.

MG: Very typical of our games this season especially away from home. Tight and scrappy
BM: We're almost 15 mins into a game which Cardiff dominated early stages.  After some nice early spells getting forward our creativity tap has been turned off here. Spark needed.

The handball incident looked a shoo-in penalty from the stands, and when the other club’s official media manager says this, I think it says all you need to know…..
BM: The call on Turner's handball could be read either way. He was looking forward with (admittedly) arms out, the ball landing on his fingers
So.  It should have been a penalty!

One aspect that will probably come as a surprise to many followers who feel that City are often too soft, their more physical approach gained some comment:
PS: Some poor challenges from Bristol here. Whittingham targeted.
PS again, later on: Bristol City getting away with a lot of fouls.

The half was summed up perfectly on 45 minutes.
BM: Expect around three to four extra minutes added at the end of what has been a less than exciting first half.

There were three minutes, apparently…
BM: Mason!!! What a time to score!!! The goal was credited as a McManus own goal.. I really don't mind either way. A great way to end a half that lacked excitement. HT 0-1 City

Half-time chat generally centred on the low quality of the first half generated views on both teams and also hinted at the slightly fortunate nature of the opening goal.
JH: Well that's a pleasant surprise. Our league games on TV all seem to be dreadful this season. Bristol City are awful & we've been just as bad.  Still, I think winning tonight is more important than the performance...which is just as well, really
PS: Joe, our league games have mostly been crap from what I've seen. We're a lucky side.
JH: Don't think we're particularly lucky. I think we're a solid team that's slightly better than most in the league, but not much else.  We're pretty dire away from home mind, as is reflected in our away record.

The attendance also proved a talking-point, with fewer than one thousand away fans in an overall total of around 12,500.  What is for certain is that when a game is on TV, especially on Saturday tea-time, many fans – understandably – make the decision to save anything from £50 to £250 (depending on size of family and distance to travel) and make themselves comfortable on the sofa.
If that wasn’t all enough, roll the voucher exchange required (by an unnecessarily early time) for away fans to travel into the mix and it is hardly surprising so few fans are choosing to attend in person.  This match should be the highlight of each of these team’s seasons, yet City took 2,000 to both West Ham and Southampton for an evening match, even though they could barely muster 750 for the 45 minute journey over the bridge on a Saturday.
So I agree with both Phil and Matthew, who ‘argued’/reminisced on taking 4,000 away fans to Hereford in the old Division 4 whilst countering with the fact it was a lot of money and hassle just two weeks after an expensive Wembley weekend.
It’s hard to argue with having some sort of additional control for these matches.  If restrictions were lifted it’s unfortunately certain that trouble would swiftly follow, with each city’s less than favourable sections of the support taking up the opportunity to once again cross swords. 
However, with the voucher exchange system there is no doubt these match ups will continue to somewhat disappoint with regard atmosphere and apparent importance.

Back to the match and thankfully the second half offered more in terms of end-to-end action and excitement.
BM: Cardiff opening the second half with more quality shown than in the opening 45+2 mins...Bristol can however counter if Cardiff push too far forward... find the balance lads.
JH: This is much, much better.
The balance wasn’t found in time if you’re of Bluebird persuasion…
JH: Bollocks.
BM: Stead AGAIN.... and in Brizzle's first break of note he takes the finish well. This is what can happen. #BristolCity 1-1 #CardiffCity
MG: Stead's obligatory goal against us. ffs city.  Why does Stead always look good against us?

There was a lot of positivity for my personal man of the match (and not the home team selection) Joe Mason.  I remember being quite envious when Cardiff signed Mason in the summer, having seen him a couple of times for Plymouth and the Irish under-21’s, I felt his awareness and movement looked to be years beyond his slender age, and he now looks to have established himself as a Championship player.
Other Tweeters were also busy talking about Mason being one of the best young players in the Championship, and certainly seems one to keep an eye on.
Following Stead’s equaliser the game was largely controlled, albeit at a fairly pedestrian pace, by Cardiff’s midfield maestro Peter Whittingham, whilst 74-year-old Kevin McNaughton looked dangerous down the right flank.  However, City continued to come closer to a second goal…
BM: We're pretty much living in the Brizzle half. but doing nothing with it. Then they make a rare break and Stead VERY nearly makes it 2-1
BM: David Marshall AGAIN as Bristol break... phew!! #BristolCity 1-1 #CardiffCity
Despite the chances, Phil put a positive spin on what was unfolding.  Perhaps ultimately it was just a brilliant bit of insight…
PS: This game is still there for Cardiff.

Then, when the game looked to be heading towards a probably fair 1-1 draw, a second critical deflection gave Cardiff a win their possession possibly deserved, but for overall play was harsh on City.
The comments from these fans at the time of the goal and post-match indicate that those City fans claiming bad luck are not necessarily viewing all matters through rose-tinted spectacles.
BM: Mason maybe... own goal? I really can't see much from the greenhouse at the back.. #BristolCity 1-2 #CardiffCity
JH: We've really gotten away with it today. Good movement from Mason, great pass by Whittingham, huge slice of luck with the finish.  Mason scuffed shot/cross deflected off the heel of Cissé. Very lucky, but who cares?!
PS: Another sublime pass from Whittingham in the build up.
BM: FULL TIME: #BristolCity 1-2 #CardiffCity .... not quite sure how we got that, but will take it EVERY DAY!!! Come on City!!
JH: Great result. Very, very lucky tonight but really needed that win.
MG: Great if rather fortunate win in the end. Amazed we are still in contention for the play offs. Three home games to come.
Ben meanwhile clearly decides to concentrate on the match (and singing if his appearance on Sky is anything to go by) and reserved his comments for post-match.  If you look between the gloating you’ll find some crumbs of comfort….
BD: We came, we saw, we conquered. 2-1 in your cup final.
“We'll win and not score, we'll win and not scoooore, we're Cardiff City, we'll win and not score...”
And finally, a message to #BristolCityTwitterFamily founder @MelissaSpencerx
“You're perhaps the only Wurzel I feel sorry for. Should stay up playing like that.”

Before I call it a wrap, a mention has to go to Martyn Woolford.  A surprise starter this evening and one which instantly had many (admittedly including myself) doubting the ability of the team line-up before we’d even started.  Woolford has largely disappointed since joining from Scunthorpe and this evening was no better, but no worse, than many of the preceeding appearances.

As befitting the style of this post, I’ll paraphrase my own tweet from earlier this evening.
“Do I think he’s good enough? Unfortunately, no.  Do I feel the need to tell him and abuse him directly?  No, certainly not.  Why would I?!”
Sadly some feel this is indeed the most appropriate way to be spending their time this Saturday evening and it’s been especially vindictive and personal. 
Part of the appeal of Twitter is that you can get an insight into the lives of celebrities – however minor they may be – and get to know what they’re thinking, how they react to what life throws at them.  If they all have to put up with the kind of comments Woolford has received from a minority of fans tonight, no-one could blame them if they never logged on again.  And, for that, we’d all be poorer. 
As with hooliganism, it’s a shame the minority have to ruin things for the majority.  Just ask those Cardiff fans who embarked on the coach four hours ahead of kick-off this afternoon and were already in the ground when I left my Cardiff base.  Just ask those City fans who live 10 minutes from the Cardiff City Stadium (as I do), yet have to exchange vouchers two hours ahead of kick-off.

Follow me on Twitter: @TheExiledRobin

No comments:

Post a Comment

Most Popular Posts