2014 bows out on an appropriate note.

CoymayHas Cardiff City had a more joyless and debilitating year than 2014 in all of it’s existence? Given that the first half of the year saw us performing at a level we hadn’t competed at for more than half a century and the second half saw us in mid table at the level lower, there’s definitely been worse years in terms of results and quality of football (during the thirties and nineties in particular), but I thought for a while when choosing to use the words “joyless” and “debilitating” because I genuinely cannot remember a year to match the one just about to end when it comes to those two adjectives.

A disaster of a year ended in a wholly appropriate manner as the team crashed to a 4-2 home defeat by Watford which revealed all of the things that are wrong at Cardiff on the field and, more than any other match so far this campaign, also highlighted much that is going wrong off it for the club.

“Joyless” explains itself really. I can only remember one game during this year that I came out of having truly enjoyed it. In the 3-3 draw at the Hawthorns in March, City showed the sort of spirit and resolve that has been lacking so often over the past twelve months to recover from going two down in no time and then conceding a third goal in added time to snatch what was in the end a deserved point. However, even then, the joy was tempered by the knowledge that, despite it all, our chances of staying up were probably less than they had been just as the match kicked off.

The travelling support was in good voice that day as well, but one of the reasons why I cannot say I ever felt the same way after any match I saw at Cardiff City Stadium in 2014 was that, right from the West Ham game that was supposed to be the start of a new era at the club, the atmosphere at home games has tended to be as flat as the proverbial pancake. To be fair, there was hardly ever much happening on the pitch to get the juices flowing and even when we won games, I sometimes asked myself “how on earth did we get the three points?” (e.g. Norwich in February and Reading last month).

I’ve noticed in recent home matches that conversations have tended to be less about what is happening on the pitch and more about discussing things such as the antics of people who are, how shall I put this, letting the ineptitude being shown on the pitch get to them. We laugh at the person concerned and laughs are few and far between at Cardiff City games these days, but it’s the sort of gallows humour I can remember from that period lasting from 1985 to about 1999 when we were, invariably, a pretty ordinary lower division side – taking the piss out of people who are at least showing they care isn’t where I really get my joy out of watching Cardiff City play, but, these days, I suppose beggars cannot be choosers.

He only scores against Watford - Adam LeFondre celebrates after giving  us the lead - the ironic thing was that, just as with our other 4-2 home loss this season, we looked good, by our standards at least in the first half an hour.*

He only scores against Watford! Adam LeFondre celebrates after giving us the lead – the ironic thing is that, just as with our other 4-2 home loss this season, we looked good, by our standards at least, in the first half an hour.*

I’ve no desire to go into too much detail about yesterday’s game, but I suppose that I must. Actually, after Watford played through our midfield far too easily on a couple of occasions in the opening minutes, we settled down somewhat and were worth our 1-0 lead with about ten minutes left of the first half – in truth, this had as much to do with the fact that, up until then, Watford had been rivaling Forest as the worst team I’d seen at Cardiff City Stadium this season, but everything changed when they decided to start playing.

In saying that though, City had a couple of three on three breaks just before Watford’s equaliser, but showing the lack of pace and quality that we’ve become all too used to, they botched them and about a minute after the second opportunity had been spurned, it was 1-1.

After the game I was listening to Jason Perry, Nathan Blake and Andy Legg discussing how the City players reacted when that goal went in. They were right to mention the lack of recrimination or even discussion between them as they trooped back to the centre spot and they were right to say that this was the time when there really needed to be leaders out there on the pitch, but they were not showing any special ex pros insight there, they were just pointing out something that many supporters have been aware of for months.

Not for the first time, the effect of conceding was akin to the air quickly escaping from a balloon, City were utterly deflated and, in no time at all, our two centrebacks (who the press tell us we paid £9 million for) left Ighalo free to head in from close range.

The second half saw Watford, who left their three best attacking players (Deeney, Vydra and Anya) on the bench, stroll through the game – they became the latest opposing side to score with a shot from outside the penalty area against us when Guédioura was given all of the time he wanted to fire in his second goal and Angella then added an easy headed goal to make it 4-1.

What did City have in answer to this? Well, apart from odd substitutions and a route one approach which made the sort of stuff we used to see from yesterday’s opponents and Wimbledon in the 80s look sophisticated, there was absolutely nothing. The selection policy, tactical approach and prehistoric football employed by Russell Slade since he has come to Cardiff would probably be accepted by most if we were winning, but when a side plays like that and is on a poor run, then there aren’t going to be many prepared to fight his corner – speaking as someone who has tried to be sympathetic to our manager, it’s impossible to find anything from our second half showings over Christmas to counter those who want him out with.

Actually, City did manage to do something in the second half, they scored a good goal in added time when Craig Noone beat his man with a lovely bit of skill and crossed for Kenwyne Jones to head in powerfully – Noone was also not too far away with a well struck shot after that, but it was far too little, too late from a well beaten side who were more than two goals worse than their opponents.

In his post match press conference, Russell Slade tried to put our defeat down to four minutes of madness just before half time. I doubt it if he was fooling anyone there, but it did get me thinking “forget four minutes of madness, there’s been more than two and a half years of madness at Cardiff City”.

It’s taken a while, but this takes me on to my use of the word “debilitating”. The on line dictionary I’ve just looked at defines the word “debilitating” as “to make weak or feeble; enfeeble”. It’s worth remembering that ten days before the end of 2013, City fans showed a degree of passion at Anfield that drew respect and praise from around the footballing world. Yes, that passion may have been misplaced as it turned out, but it was in support of a man whose teams, despite some very poor showings towards the end of his reign, always gave of their best.

Show your opposition to our owner and his pathetic rebrand like these supporters did when they unfurled this banner at yesterday's game and Cardiff City employees spring into action and remove it within minutes. However, if you are a City fan suffering from a serious illness who writes to the club expressing your disappointment in reasonable terms over the change to red and, two months later and counting, Cardiff City employees do not even bother acknowledging your letter - such is life at Vincent Tan's Cardiff City in 2014.*

Show your opposition to our owner and his pathetic rebrand, like these supporters did when they unfurled this banner at yesterday’s game, and Cardiff City employees spring into action and remove it within minutes. However, if you are a City fan suffering from a serious illness who writes to the club expressing your disappointment, in reasonable terms, over the change to red then, two months later and counting, Cardiff City employees do not even bother acknowledging your letter – such is life at Vincent Tan’s Cardiff City in 2014.*

Malky Mackay’s sides only tended to lose because their opponents were better than them, if it came to a battle of wills, they might not always have won, but it was very rare that they lost – can that really be said of Ole’s and Rusell Slade’s Cardiff teams?

Just over a year ago, Cardiff City was a club that still had passion, but, 2014 has been a year when much of that quality has been sucked out of so many people associated with it – I don’t preclude some of our players from that either. This has been the year where home supporters have become used to hearing more of opposing fans, of hearing player’s shouts and the dull hum that is heard when hundreds of people are holding conversations in a large area – the atmosphere that we were told could intimidate opposing teams has disappeared.

Yet, perhaps, there was an element of it’s always darkest just before the dawn to what happened yesterday, because, while many decided to vote with their feet as the Watford goals mounted up, there were sections of the crowd who, in vocal terms anyway, were as stroppy as any I’ve heard this year – there were more anti Tan songs, Russell Slade had to endure choruses of “you don’t know what you’re doing” and “getting sacked in the morning”, there were Ole’s as Watford passed the ball around with barely a challenge from City players (it was 68/32 in the possession battle yesterday by the way – obviously, there’s no need for me to say which team had a less than a third of the ball) and derision greeted the “official” attendance figure when it was announced. While not all of these things were helping the team on the pitch, they were signs that people have had enough of Vincent Tan and his rebrand.

With marches and protests planned for games early in the New Year and many, like myself, who were prepared to tolerate the rebrand initially, now thoroughly pissed off with everything to do with Cardiff City, opposition to Tan has never been stronger – yes, I know I and others have left ourselves open to justifiable “it’s two and a half years too late” comments because of what we said back in the summer of 2012, but  we are where we are now and it feels to me as if things are coming to a head.

I’m not naive enough to predict that 2015 will see a return to the club being the one we all fell in love with so long ago, but maybe it will be a year when the fans begin to fight back in the sort of numbers that start to get the club worried. Whether it be through going on marches, going to games and making your contempt for Tan and his rebrand more obvious, boycotting games either on an individual basis or through not buying or renewing a season ticket, I think there are grounds for hoping that next year will see more organised and more widespread resistance to the one man in the world who really wants Cardiff City to play in red – perhaps he might even pluck up the courage to come to a game as well?

* pictures courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/joncandy/    



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13 Responses to 2014 bows out on an appropriate note.

  1. Haydn John says:

    First of all I totally against the re-branding of the City.
    However “If” we were in the same position at the moment as the Jacks nobody would care about the red kit, remember when the stadium was bouncing against both the Manchester sides when we had good results in red.
    I agree that Russell Slade is out of his depth at this level but he`s on a looser to start with having Scott Young as his number 2, someone who has only coached at development level, he needs an old championship dog by his side.
    I have been a supporter since the fifties and yesterdays performance was one of the worst I have seen from a Cardiff side, even worse than my son and myself standing in the family enclosure watching City loose 4-1 to I forget who and there were only about seventeen hundred people there watching. City got relegated that year.
    I was in the RAF from 1964 – 1976 and missed a lot of matches over that period. City always played in Blue and White but when I came back from overseas they had this big yellow stripe down the front of their shirts, where did that come from, were there any complaints then?
    In the early days City always played at home with blue shirts with white trim and white shorts, I was there when they beat Aston Villa at home 1-0 to get promoted, please can anyone tell me why on that day City played at home in an all white kit with blue trim.
    Nobody complained however, we got promoted.

  2. rhondda blue says:

    4 minutes of madness rusty, are you kidding, more like 2 months when you decided to take a job that your not qualified for. in that time I for one have not seen any improvement in our team, what do you do in training, we can’t do the basics like pass the ball to a team mate, as for tactics forget it, nobody knows apart from you. rumours are coming out your after winger cox from leyton orient and tom Lawrence, please if that’s the best that your aiming for, unless of course your gearing us up for the 1st division that you know so well, resign now and take scott young with you. that’s all I ask is for a team I can be proud of and not a laughing stock that’s becoming ccfc at the moment, Watford was another disgrace. no leaders on or off the pitch and a midfield of 2 that gets overrun in every game, all fans can see this but not rusty, he keeps picking the same ones. I hope the only money rusty spends in the transfer window is a ticket for him and young back to London. anyone know what time his train leaves

  3. Robert Williams says:

    Only Mr Tans honour and integrity are important to him. It is becoming apparent he has no aspirations of success with Cardiff City Football Club, we seem to be lowest priority of all his investments and ventures into other Football Clubs. I feel we have been treated with no respect throughout this long insidious campaign to bow down and accept all he who has the money, wants and will have the club created in his belief and image with no care or concern about our heritage and the history of the club, its colours, supporters and most importantly Wales and the Bluebirds as long as we have the club with his lucky colours and affiliation to his lucky numbers by date of birth etc that will be fine by him if things carry on as they appear to be going Mr Tan may be the only supporter at home games if he can remember the way of course.

  4. Ian says:

    A well written piece. I agree that things have to come to a head in the very near future – things cannot continue as they are for long. I have been a City fan for more than 40 years but find it so hard to go and watch them now under this riduculous regime.
    The question now is how to bring about the change that we desire. I have travelled to and worked in South East Asia (including Malaysia) and understand the mentality to a certain extent. Vincent Tan will not be swayed by financial threats or even small scale protests in South Wales. When you get to his level in SE Asia everything depends on two things – networks and politics. The only way to get him to change is to affect these by taking the fight to his home country and get his political masters and higher networks worried about bad PR and its effect on Malaysia as a brand. This has to be done by using social media – Facebook is big out there – and by getting powerful people in the UK to talk to powerful people in Malaysia. Didnt we see some big names attending games while we were in the Premier League – where are they now? We also need the journos in the UK to talk to their counterparts in Malaysia to make sure that the stories about the turmoil in Cardiff is given as much press as possible in Tans back yard.

  5. Big Al says:

    Things can get better but it will require strong leadership both on and off the field of play.
    Off the field…
    Very surprised a man of Tan’s commercial ability can’t see his bluebird customers are very unhappy and may lose them in large numbers if things don’t change soon. Simple message to him if he is interested. Listen to them before it’s too late for you. Please give us a chance to play a part in your vision for the future of Cardiff City by electing a true Cardiff City supporter on the board of Directors by end of January 2015.
    On the field…
    Yes Slade has made it clear he has taken on a group of players he is unable to motivate short term. Slade therefore must in my opinion be given a little longer to prove himself. It will be interesting to see what plans he has for the January window in regards to the signing of new players and a replacement assistant Manager/Coach – all employed by him. Only then can we fully judge him on his leadership, team building and ongoing improvements in team performance. My 2015 challenge to him – get us to the play offs this year and prove to to us that your much talked about short term goal is achieved. Forget the talking Russell show us your courage and ‘just do it’
    Happy New Year to all those connected with the true bluebirds.
    Big Al

  6. Mike says:

    Firstly Bob, I feel joyless and debilitated when I’m watching my beloved Bluebirds. I sat there yesterday almost motionless (I’ve always been up and down like a jack-in-the-box, but that’s been wiped away ). I cannot believe what I see on the pitch, nor can I believe what’s happening to my football club. I have only ever supported one team over the past 50+ years, and that’s the Bluebirds. Like pubs, clubs and places of worship a football club is part and parcel of the community. It’s a place to go and share our friendships and common beliefs.It ties the community together.

    Vincent Tan is not a man of honour and integrity as Robert suggests. We hear all the time about cultural awareness and the importance of diversity. Well from my personal experiences, Cardiff is a very diverse and I would argue that it is also a very culturally aware city. What Vincent Tan lacks is that very same diversity and cultural awareness. He appears to have absolutely no honour when it comes to working with the fans (honour – honesty, ethics, morality, principle). We saw yesterday stewards being tasked with dealing the slightest anti-Tan sentiments, which brings into question Vincent Tan’s integrity (a quality of being honest and having morale principles).

    Mr Tan you are a guest in this country, show some cultural awareness and respect our beliefs, history and community. We have by law the power of free speech, respect that!! If someone wants to express themselves verbally or in the written word “TAN OUT” – so be it!!

  7. Richard Holt says:

    You’re absolutely right Paul – 2014 is the worst year I have experienced as a City fan of 55 years. What distinguishes this period of gloom from many others is the feeling of apathy that it has induced. During those seasons when we were in the bottom three of the fourth division I still cared. Defeats though predictable and frequent were still hard to take and wins though rare still gave a spring in the step. Yesterday I found my responses to what happened on the pitch muted to say the least. Le Fondre’s opening goal provoked a half- hearted cheer while I could only shrug shoulders when Watford’s goals started going in. That’s what Tan and his nonsense has done. As I said yesterday, ‘rape’ is the best word to describe what is happening to our club as our honour, dignity and pride are taken away. Whether 2015 will see us begin to regain these things we will see but I feel far from hopeful at the moment.

  8. David williams says:

    We have been overrun in midfield all season why doesn’t slade see that we don’t need strikers we need a midfield general and players who are comfortable on the ball Russell Slade doesnt seem to get that

  9. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks as ever Paul.
    In Hayden John we have one of the wisest contributions EVER to your blog.
    I salute you Hayden.
    I too was at that Villa to see the truly GREAT Graham Moore score the goal that got us promoted …and we were – as Hayden recalls – resplendent in all white.
    And none of us could have cared less.
    But now of course, football fans – bizarrely in my opinion for people over the age of 12 – wear shirts to identify themselves with the team on the pitch …and that is the BIG game changer.
    And I thus have a theory that part of all this is the fact that we Welsh care for our pennies, and thus did not want to fork out for a red shirt.
    The other problem we have here, is naked racism.
    We have people saying Mr Tan has no honour, and then in the next breath (apparently oblivious to the fact that they are now going to bring ZERO honour on themselves) telling him he is a “guest in our country”.
    In the immortal words of the late John Junor …”pass the sickbag Alice”.

  10. Dai Woosnam says:

    Dai Woosnam says:
    December 30, 2014 at 2:41 am
    Sorry Haydn.
    I was playing an old podcast of Radio 3’s Composer of the Week earlier tonight by your near namesake, and with that genius composer working overtime in my subconscious, it must have influenced my double typo of two minutes ago!
    Mind you, I have no such excuse for my error on Curtis Davies a few days ago,
    Trple apols.

  11. Dai Woosnam says:

    Another day is with us and I look back at what I wrote last night…or rather, when fighting sleep between 2 and 3 in the morning.
    Golly…it can be embarrassing.
    No …I do not touch a drop honest.
    And no it is not my typos either.
    (One should expect to make mistakes in bed…I was a mistake myself, born when my mam was 44 …and my dad had been born when Queen Vic was still on the throne.)
    Though some typo mistakes are worse than others. Missing the word “game” after “Villa” off the first text from me above, matters not a jot. But spelling my beloved uncle’s name wrong, was unforgivable. Pte Haydn Woosnam was just 19 when killed at the Battle of Ypres.
    But re-reading the above sees me urgently needing to clarify one thing: I am not accusing Mike of being racist.
    But what I am saying is that his was an unfortunate near-juxtaposition of two somewhat contrasting sentences.
    Do you know something Paul…I think that I have lost my affections for the club that I once supported with such passion all over England. Saw some amazing games in my time. (Only last week I was telling someone how I once saw City score 16 goals in one game!)
    But let us be clear..I have not lost my affection because of the gentleman from Malaysia. I just feel alienated from the mass of the blue shirts. And their boorish behaviour.
    Just as Alan Pardew has apparently been chased by the mob out of Tyneside, so the inevitable will probably happen to Vincent.
    And we will all be the worse for it.
    But hey maybe, it is time to hang up my Cardiff City pen.
    After all soccer has changed beyond belief.
    Last night, we saw yet another unnecessary pass back leading to a goalkeeper error.
    And then Gary Monk says “I do not blame my keeper”.
    Dear me! I should hope not.
    Blame yourself Gary…for encouraging such negative kamikaze tactics.
    Time I checked out Paul.
    I will now take a sabbatical. I will lie down in a darkened room with a cold compress on my head.
    But will stay in touch with you on a personal level by email, and look you up again when next in Fairwater.

  12. Haydn John says:

    No prob Dai (Woosnam) when I was in the RAF I was usually called John Haydn and still regularilly outside of Wales, especially in the USA.
    My son has the same problem his first name is Leighton.
    Why did we play in white?

  13. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thank you for all of the replies to my post – I’m sure this is a record for the number of responses on here.
    Because there is so much to respond to, I hope everyone will understand if I do not reply to all of the points made, but there are a few things I’d like to say;-
    1. Haydn, I don’t know if you read the piece I did recently about the Blackburn v City game in November 1960? It was built around a Football Echo report of the match I’d been given in which Peter Corrigan spoke of City’s white floodlight kit, so it sounds as if they played in white every time they played under floodlights that season. However, as floodlights were only installed at Ninian Park in the summer of 1960, that cannot be the reason why they wore white against Villa.
    All of this is before my time, but I had heard that it was simply a case of the white kit being considered a lucky one. I’ve just looked in my copy of the Official History of the Bluebirds and there is a picture of Graham Moore’s goal in there – I notice that Villa were in the normal claret and blue. However, above that photo is another one of Joe Bonson scoring at Brisbane Road in a 4-3 win over Leyton Orient in March 1960 and he’s wearing white as well. Now, I was just going to say that there was no need for us to change from blue that day when something in the back of my mind made me think that Orient had a rebranding of their own and played in blue for some time in the fifties and sixties – I’ve not checked that, but I’m pretty sure I read it somewhere.
    So, it could simply be that, like Vincent Tan with red, City played in white because it was seen as being lucky and it became their “floodlight kit” because it was the one they wore when they went up or it might have been considered to have been more suitable for what I presume were pretty weak floodlights by today’s standards – either way, the difference for me is that there was never any indication that blue would cease to be City’s primary kit.
    2. Dai, sorry that you have decided to take a break from posting for a while – although we seem to disagree on a lot of City and football related subjects, we are both adult enough not to get too wound up about it and I’ll miss your contributions.
    3. Dai mentioned racism and I’ve mentioned to him before that I agreed with Vincent Tan when he said there was a degree of racism in some of the media coverage he received last season – I’d also say that sometimes a few City fans have stepped over that line as well. However, I think Mike made a superb point about Cardiff’s multiculturalism – I can remember my teacher telling us in Primary School about Cardiff’s reputation as a racially tolerant city and I’ve seen little that proved her wrong over the past fifty years or so. Cardiff, and it’s surrounding areas welcomed Vincent Tan with open arms in the early days and he had no reason whatsoever to complain about the way he was treated by the locals until he imposed his rebrand on us. South Wales showed a great deal of respect for Vincent Tan, but it’s a two way thing and it’s never been reciprocated. I live by the motto “treat others as you would want to be treated yourself” – Vincent Tan doesn’t respect me and tens of thousands like me, so why should I respect him?

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