Cardiff City’s new FA Cup tradition.

I suppose the best thing I can say about Cardiff City’s 2-1 defeat to Fulham at a less than 20 per cent full Cardiff City Stadium yesterday in the Third Round of the FA Cup was that it was not quite as pathetic a game as the last two matches we played in the competition when Reading and Shrewsbury came here and won while hardly breaking into a sweat against a team and support that could best be described by adding a letter “a” at the start of a word I used three lines ago!

In saying that, the reason why yesterday was slightly better than those two earlier matches was entirely down to our opponents who provided all of what quality was seen – Fulham moved the ball around neatly and purposefully in a way which asked serious questions as to the ability of the very highly paid players in our team, some of whom have cost us millions in transfer fees.

The difference between the sides was embarrassing at times. Every outfield Fulham player  was comfortable with the ball at their feet, whereas our attempts to string any sort of passing football together soon petered out after a few seconds, due to us being unable to perform what should be basics, for players at this level at least, such as controlling the ball with one touch and getting the right weight on what should have been a simple pass.

The only visiting player who struggled when using their feet was goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli, who is one of several players that have been linked to us in recent weeks. This is a deal that I would place in the “highly unlikely” category, but, if it did come off and Bettinelli’s kicking is really as erratic as it looked at times yesterday, he can rest assured that he won’t feel as self concious about his lack of ability in that aspect of the game as he must do at times at Fulham, because there will be plenty of his new team mates who will be able to show him that he will be far from alone when it comes to displaying the various ways a football can be mistreated!

I think I’ve speculated on here before as to whether the somewhat basic, long ball approach that has been the preferred method of playing the game for two of our last three managers could be put down to it being the “trademark” style of Messrs Slade and Warnock or whether they look at our squad and think it is not capable of playing in a more “cultured” way?

My honest answer is that I think both managers would still want their team to play a set piece orientated, physical game where shorter passing out from the back is frowned upon even if they had a group of players with better footballing ability than the ones they work/worked with. However, our wholly unsuccessful attempts to play in a manner favoured by sides like Fulham under Paul Trollope does rather point to Messrs Slade and Warnock being hamstrung if the possibility of getting their side to play in a more expansive, possession based way ever entered their minds.

I don’t like the passing for the sake of passing approach of some clubs (I thought that one of the reasons why Fulham didn’t win by a margin that their superiority merited yesterday was that they were a little Arsenal like at times as the desire to score a “perfect” goal took over, when a more simple approach would probably have paid dividends) and I’ve made it clear that Warnock’s approach to playing the game has led to some far more entertaining home matches lately than we had become used to, so I’m not going to be too critical of the way he gets the side to play here.

After all, it was only six days ago that I was declaring that Warnock was maybe in the process of giving us our old Cardiff City back after a 1-0 win over Villa that was one of the best games I’ve watched and atmospheres I’ve experienced at a home game in ages, so it would be hypocritical of me if I was to slaughter the way he is getting us to play now.

However, while Monday was all about “up and at em”, yesterday was much more stand back and let them play. Just as it was under Russell Slade, the game plan favoured by Neil Warnock has no saving graces whatsoever when it is carried out as poorly as it was yesterday, there are no passages of play in defeat which allow you to think “we may have lost, but at least we kept on trying to play football and there were parts of our play that I enjoyed” – when a Slade/Warnock Cardiff team played/plays badly, there are no such consolations to grasp, it is just artless thud and blunder as we hope to force free kicks, corners and throw ins from which we may be able to find a chance to have the goal attempt that we are never going to create from open play.

It got so bad yesterday that, with Aron Gunnarsson rested and new signing Greg Halford substituted, we were reduced to Sean Morrison taking the long throws presumably in the hope that, if he made them slow and loopy enough, he could get into the middle and get his head on the ball as it dropped!

I accept that there are sides out there who do perfectly well thank you when only having possession of the ball for about forty per cent of the time when they play and there has been at least one example of a team winning with as low as twenty per cent possession (Burnley v Liverpool in August) this season. However, we have consistently been down in the early thirties under Warnock when it comes to possession and against Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield and again yesterday it was as low as twenty nine per cent - I find it hard to believe that any side can enjoy concerted success when they see as little of the ball as that.

The BBC’s stats say that we had eight goal attempts yesterday with four of them on target, but, apart from our goal, which owed everything to a deflection off the wall that left Bettinelli completely wrong footed and a Joe Ralls shot a few minutes later that the keeper did well to turn aside, we never looked like scoring. So, we reverted to what has been our norm at home far too often this season whereby those in the Canton Stand spend forty five minutes watching us attacking their end of the ground without seeing anything happening to get them thinking that a City goal might be coming – it’s incredible how many times we have had offered absolutely nothing as an attacking force in the second half of home matches this season.

Judging by his post game comments, Neil Warnock found it hard to get too excited about yesterday’s match. Our manager used the line that he “struggled to get out of bed for the game” and, while that was partly a dig aimed at the early kick off time which no doubt contributed to an attendance figure of just over 5,000, it also said much about the way the club, on the footballing side at least, treated the game.

This was the first game we have played under Warnock where there were not league points at stake and so, although there were not as many changes made as there were by other teams over the weekend, we still went into the game with nearly half of the team which started against Villa missing.

With Warnock admitting that most, if not all, of the missing five would have been out there playing if it had been a Championship game, there is little doubt that this veteran is treating cup games in exactly the same manner  as most of his juniors do.

Yes, Warnock said it was sad to see the oldest cup competition in the world reduced to what it is now, but the truth is that he was just behaving like a modern day manager does in a game where you start to think that trying to make sure you don’t lose your television money has become more important than the game itself.

Why should the FA Cup be treated like that and when did it become the norm at Cardiff City for any cup game to be treated as an irritant? When was it that the FA and League Cups turned into tournaments where you get the strong impression that those on the playing side of things at the club would prefer to make as early an exit from as possible?

It was so ironic to read a thread on a City messageboard on Friday celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the epic win over Leeds United when Scott Young’s late goal saw us beat the team that was at the top of the Premier League at the time. Many of the contributors to the thread rated that game as the best they’d ever seen while supporting the club and I can understand why they would do so, because it was a brilliant occasion which not even the post match controversy which centred on what was a festering sore at the club at the time, crowd misbehaviour, could diminish.

The fact is though that three quarters, at the very least, of those who were there against Leeds didn’t make it to yesterday’s game. Now, there are all sorts of reasons why some of that fifteen thousand or so couldn’t make it to the Fulham match (being dead being the best of them!), but somewhere along the line, it’s got to the stage where those who went to yesterday’s game are almost viewed by other supporters as being a bit eccentric for going along to watch their team play on a Sunday morning.

New signing Ibraham Meite in action for his former club, Harrow Borough – he didn’t feature in yesterday’s woeful showing against Fulham, thereby doing his cause no harm at all in the process I would have thought!

It’s probably true to say that the FA Cup began it’s long, lingering demise on the day that the first Premier League television deal was signed, but, at Cardiff, although Dave Jones was often prone to making  a few alterations, I think I’d trace it back to 7 January 2012.

This was when Malky Mackay, having already picked “experimental” City sides for the early rounds of our march to Wembley for the Final of the League Cup that season, made ten changes from the team that had played so well in beating Reading in that match I referred to in my piece about the Villa game, only five days earlier for a Third Round FA Cup tie at West Brom.

Mackay did have the excuse of a First Leg Semi Final a few days later coming up to justify the weak side he sent out at the Hawthorns, but his cup selections always bore little resemblance to the one that had played in the previous league games once we had played Liverpool in the League Cup Final. So it was that the precedent whereby the cups were little more than nuisances or distractions as far as Cardiff City were concerned was set.

There are still people around who say that the Third Round of the FA Cup represents their favourite weekend of any season, but, surely, if they are being honest with themselves, what they really mean is that it used to? That’s how it was for me, but that all changed some time before that great day against Leeds restored my faith, for a short while anyway.

Yesterday, I watched three matches, one in the flesh and then Liverpool v Plymouth and Spurs v Villa on the telly. The only “magic of the FA Cup” I saw in them came from the supporters of the Devon team who were, understandably, ecstatic to see their side draw at Anfield after having been forced to start their journey north in the early hours of the morning because of another kick off time for television that paid no heed whatsoever to the thoughts of travelling fans.

Even then, Plymouth owed their “cup glory” to a very negative “park the bus” philosophy which blunted a second string Liverpool attack – it was hard to blame them for this approach even though it made for very boring viewing.

So, three Cup ties to watch, with, maybe five minutes of genuine quality on offer between them and the stat which says the most about the nature of these games was the one which showed that there was not a single yellow card in the trio of matches - how can there be when there was hardly a tackle made in any of them?

If one of the game’s true motivators admits that he had been unable to motivate himself for an FA Cup game, how could Neil Warnock be expected to motivate his players? To be honest, I was never expecting to see the sort of burning commitment which did for Villa, but what I was hopeful of, especially after a fairly bright first fifteen minutes during which both sides scored, was a decent game of football where the lack of points at stake might have encouraged the “stars” on view to be a bit more expressive.

Instead, what I saw, from the ones in blue at least, was a shortage of basic techniques and a lack of desire from some of those given a rare first team chance – only Brian Murphy and Sol Bamba out of the City side had any cause to be reasonably happy with their performances in my opinion.

In saying that, Mark Harris will remember the day forever as he became the first locally produced youngster in far too long to make a senior debut for the team. Harris played the last twenty five minutes or so and found it hard to make an impact in a team where so many were playing so poorly, but there was one nice little run followed by one of the few perceptive passes played by a City man in the game that offered a clue as to what he could offer.

Harris came on for Greg Halford who showed the versatility which Neil Warnock said was the main reason for his signing from Rotherham for a “nominal” fee late last week by starting as the middle member of a back three, before soon shifting to a holding midfield role. I suspect that Halford was also brought here to perform the sort of eyes and ears in the dressing role that the likes of Paddy Kenny, Sean Derry and Clint Hill have done in the past for our manager, but there was little in his play yesterday which suggested he is an improvement on what we have already.

When the Halford signing was announced, I was reminded of an interview I’d read at the time of Neil Warnock’s appointment here where a QPR fan said we should expect “underwhelming” signings that have a habit of working, Based on yesterday, it looks like the first bit was right and the second part wrong as far as Halford is concerned, but any incoming player deserves more than one game in which to be judged by the supporters of his new team and so I will give him more time and trust that the QPR supporter was right on both counts.

There was another new arrival announced in the week as Ibrahim Meite, who had been on trial at the club, signed for us on a contract until July 2018. The striker cum winger was cup tied having been part of the Harrow Borough side that faced Northampton in the First Round of the competition in November, but it is understand that, for now, he will be a member of the Development team squad (who play at Charlton later today) rather than a candidate for the first team.

Finally, there was yet another of those “contract cancelled by mutual consent” departures, for which City are becoming notorious lately, on Friday when it was announced that Lex Immers had left us with it being reported that he has already signed for Club Brugge in Belgium.

In this instance though, I find it hard to be too critical of the club because, following his successful loan spell over the final three months of last season when Immers established himself as possibly the stand out player in a team doing far better in the Championship than the current one is, there were hardly any dissenting voices (I definitely wasn’t one of them) when he was signed on a permanent deal in May. However, we never got to see the same player this season and it was hard to avoid the feeling that he had played his last game in a City shirt after his wholly ineffective forty five minute showing after being given a start against Wolves. Even so, although I have no real evidence to back this up, my suspicion is that off field matters were at the heart of his return to mainland Europe.

 

 

 

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39 Responses to Cardiff City’s new FA Cup tradition.

  1. Blue Bayou says:

    I thought it started off as a cracking cup tie, with both teams up for it. After we scored though, we gradually stopped playing at the same intensity, and after Fulham scored their 2nd, we largely seemed to give-up. It reminded me of a game against Watford (I think it was) a few of seasons ago where we deservedly took the lead at around the 25 min mark, and then just stopped playing, and allowed Watford to dominate, and they went on to win 4-2!
    Apart from the players you mentioned, I thought Jazz Richards did pretty well on his first start under Warnock, and both the Harris boys made a useful contribution.
    I also thought it was a bit cheeky of Gary Lineker to have a pop at the attendance, as it was the BBC who moved the game to an 11.30am kick-off!
    I saw Neil Warnock say afterwards that he saw enough of Fulham to believe that we can give them a much better game when we play them in the league at the end of Feb – thank heavens for that!

  2. Blue Bayou says:

    Oh, and one other thing I was going to mention about Immers – I think Russell Slade’s player motivational abilities have been underestimated by many, despite the praise given to him by several of the players who played under him.
    Immers played his best football under Slade, and was very keen to sign for us at the end of last season, despite other offers.
    We never saw the same player under Trollope or Warnock, so based on what other players have said, I think it’s likely that Slade was able to get the best out of Immers, so we should give him credit for that, at least!
    I know giving any credit to Russell Slade doesn’t go down well with some fans though.

  3. barry cole says:

    well paul you have summed that up perfectly and I was so glad when the final whistle went , not for the finish of the game but that we had held out to only 2-1.
    all credit to Fulham , they look a really good team and with that easy style of passing they will threaten the top six.
    whether the arsenal style will get them through I don’t know because you are correct it should have been more than two.
    I have consistently put a positive spin on the team under Warnock and I have thoroughly enjoyed the last few league games.
    I have to hold my hand up here I didn’t go to the match but watched the match and empty seats in clarity on bbc. not that I didn’t want to go but getting from home in Lancashire to a sunday 1130 kick off in Cardiff was just a bit too far especially when it isn’t covered by my season ticket.
    what I wanted to see was the players who could not get a first team place fight for their cause. the only players to come out of that debacle was Bamba, Morrison and Murphy (all first team players).
    I am not going to single out players, to hell with it yes I am, everyone allowed Fulham so much space to play the game they wanted to it became totally one way traffic from the 15th minute. and I missed church for it lol.
    looking at the back up of players competing for first team places I think Warnock will need more than his couple of signings.
    Pilkington just doesn’t cut it for me he has become a liability and I am not sure he is up for the cause. Noone just cannot seem to finish off his efforts and is nowhere near what he was. both these players need new clubs to help them to new challenges.
    there seems to be a lot of fans who think harris is good, I am not one of those, I haven’t yet seen him consistently play well and yesterday he was really poor. bennet was at fault for both goals and he didn’t have a great game either.
    Richards Huws and Ralls were never really in the game and seemed lost after those initial 15 minutes.
    I don’t wish to comment on Lambert as I don’t think he had the service he required as a lone striker. the crosses by throws and by feet were appalling.
    like you my reservations on halford will be on hold until I have seen some more of him. finally murphy made a real mess of beating his opponent and that nearly cost us but he did make a couple of good saves.
    so having slated what really was a second string outfit with the players given a chance to be considered for a first team place I now look at the first team.
    here I see the makings of a good team but with little or no backup so I do see that Warnock will have his work cut out filling more places with players that will complete for a first team place.
    it seems so long since the aston villa game which I saw as the turning point of our season when the fight of our players came to a crescendo. Fulham burst the balloon pretty rapidly but I don’t see them doing it again when they return later this season.
    so I put my positive head back on now and look forward to the double over the wurzels followed by wins over burton and preston take us out of the threat of relegation. Warnock has reached January and there can be no more setbacks. I have always said we needed a creative midfielder and a goalscorer and those positions will be key to our move up the table. fail and we will struggle but are still good enough to survive this season but my faith in Warnock may have taken a knock.
    so can I wish everyone a happy new year and cant wait for 2018 when of course we will be top of the league as Warnock hands the reins over to Bellamy who will sail the ship of Cardiff city to the promised land once more never to return

  4. barry cole says:

    blue bayou you have assumed that slade was a good man manager. you are now excluded from any further blogs on here lol.
    don’t understand your logic as Immers was also was pretty awful in his last few games under slade and the idea of signing full time worried me as he was going backwards.
    finally to put this idea to bed, when he came slade didn’t know anything about it. the one thing slade wasn’t was a man manager. he made a complete mess of our team and we are still picking up those pieces now

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Paul for your description of events yeaterday. Yes you are right, City were awful. It was truly “football to slit one’s wrists to”.
    Only Bamba could be happy with his performance…the keeper might have been, but blotted his copybook by forgetting Row Z that one time. And when we talk of a Cruyff turn, we don’t realise that there is one turn he is still doing: he will alas turn in his urn in perpetuity, in his exasperation at goalkeepers who failed their audition as kids for the title role in their local production of Billy Elliott.
    Cardiff were pitifully bad. Gosh, did they not miss their Icelandic warrior…!!
    And disappointed though I was with my hero Neil Warnock and his utterly useless almost anti-motivational pre match comments, and his shocking insouciance post match, it was Paul Trollope’s hand that was most evident in this game, and two shocking signings of his.

    First, Rickie Lambert. Sorry boys, I know he has been a very good player in his time, but the plain fact is that his LEGS have gone. That said, he can still score if given chances in the box, and as an ex-”Gas” man, he must be the first name on the sheet for Ashton Gate.

    But realise that Douglas Bader would have been able to do as good a job OUTSIDE the box yeaterday. And Bader is one of the blessedly dead you referred to Paul…folk who were fortunate enough to shuffle off this mortal coil between the Leeds game and yesterday…!!

    So there is the Lambert howler…he should never have been given a contract by PT and Burnt Out Lennie. (Oh Tony Pulis…you are a wise old owl…!!)

    But this is as nothing compared to Trollope’s second howler. But do not say that I did not warn you, my fellow MAYAns.

    In MAYA Aug 28, I wrote:
    ‘…
    But Paul Trollope is beginning to worry me.
    And the warning bells are really ringing off the wall, with the purchase of Joe Bennett. I would not take this fellow on a free transfer…and minimum wage £7 an hour.
    If I was ever immodest enough to apply to go on Mastermind, he might be my specialist subject.
    How come?
    Well, that’s easy to explain. Eddie Walker – apart from being a magnificent singer/songwriter (check him out on YouTube) – is one of my closest friends, of many years’ standing. And he lives in Middlesbrough.
    And about 4/5/6 years ago (I forget how long…I lose track of the years), he me sent a pic of his grandson and Joe Bennett. He told me how nice JB had been to the boy.
    Well, that made me take an interest in looking out for the player, whenever the Boro (and later, the Villa) were on TV.
    Alas I have to report that every time I have seen him, he has given a 3 out of 10 performance. That bad…honest.
    And added to hopeless distribution, poor heading and ineffective tackles, he has shown a sneaky love of the shirt pull and the dark arts. And shows no discipline, and is seemingly unashamed when he lets the team down.
    I wish I could share your view Paul that he is a decent addition to our squad. Alas, to me, he is a diabolical decision to waste money. If Paul Trollope thinks he is a footballer, then I have no remaining faith in Mr T. Simple as that.
    …’

    Sorry to appear like Nostradamus here boys, rather than the Nostra-dumb-ass I normally am, but don’t say I did not warn you.
    The boy is not even just-this-side-of-useless.
    He is on the Dark Side of the Footballing Moon, fellows…!!
    Cannot tackle, cannot cross (nine times out of ten), if ever he heads the ball it is with his 50p forehead…a complete disaster of a player.
    Should have been hauled off at halftime yesterday.

    Should never have started of course…he should still be serving a club suspension for costing the club two points at Brentford recently, by shamefully going to sleep and not marking his man at the death at Griffin Park…and only spotting him when it was too late.

    I really feel vindicated here.
    For there were MAYAns I normally respect, telling us in September that he was quality. And I shook my head in disbelief…knowing him to be a paid-up member of the Footballing Dunces’ Club.
    Actually, on reflection, let me strike that last sentence…!! For although he is a “dunce” with the ball, he is actually a bit of a GENIUS in that he has made a highly lucrative career …out of so little…!!
    We should all take our hats off to him.

    And one bit of “thinking outside the square” stuff from me, now here…it might be grade 1 bolloxio on my part, but I rather fancy it might have some substance…

    See how James Milner has been turned from a right wing/inside forward to be a highly successful LEFT back? Well, I have a hunch that Peter Whittingham has it in him to make such a switch too.
    He has not the legs for 90 minutes doing a Joe Ralls, though he is twice the player Joe is, but at left back his great talent as a dead ball merchant would still be available to the team. And whilst he is the total antithesis of a Stuart Pearce in terms of tackling ferocity, he is not a powder puff merchant either.
    What thinkest thou, Paul…?

    One thing for sure, he’d have outshone our boy Bennett yesterday. That of course would not have been difficult. Indeed, any one of the five Bennett sisters from Pride And Prejudice might have (as long as the Fulham team sheet did not feature a chap called Fitzwilliam Darcy on the right wing…for then they’d have all been a pushover).

    [No sexist talk here Dai. That is what has just cost Rob Page his job. Not 8 defeats in the past 10. But his saying that his team "played like girls" in their most recent 5-0 defeat.]

  6. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Instead of my normal seat in the Canton stand line with the far touchline, I bought tickets for the Family stand as I had a couple of grandchildren with me. We were in Row V, and that enabled me to get a good lock at Fulham in the second half. I also recorded the game at home but in all honesty I didn’t have the heart to look at it, and it’s now deleted.
    Even so, every Cardiff player and backroom at every level should be made to watch the recording continually. They would then see how real professionals are able to control the ball immediately, pass crisply and incisively, with accuracy and the right weight to fast moving team-mates running either in behind Cardiff’s defenders or swiftly into space where they are in a position to receive the ball. Sadly, there is nothing like this skill, ability, and touch anywhere in Cardiff’s team at the moment, and I mean the first team. And among the outstanding Fulham players their number 10 (I don’t know his name) was a class above everyone. I am bound to ask — is it natural talent or excellent coaching which made Fulham so superior to Cardiff in almost every department.
    For a time Halford showed his experience in covering for a wayward defender such as Joe Bennett, but clearly ran out of steam as the second half progressed. Something as simple as stopping crosses from out wide, a problem which has been evident for a long tie, again reared its ugly head yet again yesterday, and though I have actually written on this very site that Joe Bennett seemed to be the man for the left back position, on yesterday’s performance he is clearly not the player I thought he was. And neither were most of the others. If they get the chance to play for Cardiff City again, I sincerely hope I am wrong — but somehow, I doubt it.

  7. Lindsay Davies says:

    Very wise report, Paul – and did I detect some real anger there? I’m sure we had all hoped we’d seen the back of the word ‘woeful’ for a while, but its return over the weekend (our Blogmeister, Wales OnLine) surely means ‘dreary’, ‘dismal’, and ‘dire’, can’t be far behind…we already have Dai W’s ‘pitiful’. None of us was expecting our football to be a thing of beauty under Warnock, but, I think we should be allowed to expect more than this ineptitude from professional sportsmen…even ’second-stringers’, which really should not be any kind of EXCUSE for not giving it a bash. Some of the ancient analogies remain the best – they truly looked as though they were playing in old-fashioned, lead-lined, deep-sea divers’ boots. It no longer looks like merely a series of transfer fiascos, but some kind of deep-seated COACHING malfunction. To reverse one of my late Dad’s weary admonitions, “I’m angry, not disappointed.”

  8. Anthony O'Brien says:

    And those very players can quite rightly condemn me for including so many typing errors in what I just wrote. I should practise proofreading, just as they should practise ball skills.

  9. Royalewithcheese says:

    For Dai and the Grange End?

    The boys watch the fans while the fans watch the boys who watch the game go by
    My, oh my….
    Football to slit wrists by

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7iXpTJk15s

  10. russell roberts says:

    Thanks Paul ,yes pity we couldn’t have opted out of the cup this year , giving the reason we had to fly our club out to take part in a prestigious international competition in Porth , which would have a resounding effect on the development of the game worldwide .

    The game did seem lively for 15 minutes, and we did appear up for it , then I guess a note was past around saying , “” hey , the boss has got up for bed and he’s spotted us trying to get into the next round ” , and so we slipped into chasing a team around instead , and not trying to sell to the watching millions a chance to come and see the city live , for the next home game against the mighty Burton.

    My MOM goes to the thousands loyal supporters , as I cannot bring myself to recognize any achievements on the field other than Bamba .

    Nice on the eye as Fulham were, with their ticky ,tacky, European type possession football , they should have scored more and we flattered them , I still think Barnsley were more effective at our ground , yes we will beat them next time round I’m sure because Neil has told us so ..

    Anyway, upward and onward , with a bitter royal battle ahead at Ashton Gate on Saturday, nice win there and the FA Cup defeat will ebb into the memory of some silly game played we may have played on a Sunday morning at 11:30 , in front of a ghost of crowd ,whilst the manager looked on, half asleep ,wrongly dressed in his QPR onsey ,and the fans went home on the train via platform 9 & 3/4

  11. rhondda blue says:

    I agree with all the comments, we were disgusting to say the least, no passion and drive anywhere in the team apart from Sol Bamba. Considering these players were out to impress the manager for a chance in the first team they gave nothing. I think Bamba was the only player to tackle anybody, the rest were just strolling around the pitch waiting for the final whistle. Any other job where you are not pulling your weight you would be fired, shame the club cant fire them all after that debacle, and on tv to boot. I think Neil Warnock has got a better idea of what rubbish to get rid of now, these players have made it easier for him to get rid of them, they did themselves no favours what’s so ever. They lack passion for the shirt and the club.

  12. Dai Woosnam says:

    Deep stuff, Royale.
    And that the use of the YouTube clip was actually mega profound, as City were the boys and Fulham were the girls who the City on the day could only admire, but were not allowed to touch!
    Took a while for the penny to drop with me.

  13. Lindsay Davies says:

    …and there was I, thinking – in true ‘The Donald’-style – that Royale was offering us a sunlit distraction from the drudgery of Cardiff City football. Hah! It’s all, of course, just vanity and vapidity. We – Bluebirds supporters – are truly here to suffer.

  14. Dai Woosnam’s extremely harsh critism of Joe Bennett following the City’s dismal display against Fulham last Sunday needs to be answered.
    Whilst I agree that Bennett’s performance defensively was poor I defy anyone to name another full back who would have relished & been successful in dealing UNASSISTED with Ryan Fredericks, , the quickest & sharpest wide man I’ve seen down the City for many seasons.
    Let me state in complete confidence Mr Woosnam’s alternative Peter Whittingham would certainly not have relished nor been successful with this task.
    It seemed to me that the City were totally unprepared for what Fulham had to offer & to leave Bennett totally exposed against Fredericks, without the support of a winger, for the first 45 minutes was suicidal.
    Aside from last Sunday’s game Mr Woosnam states that he has never rated Bennett higher than a 3 whenever he’s watched him play. I can only deduce therefore that Mr Woosnam has not watched Bennett play LIVE on more than a handful of occasions. Bennett is one of the few players on City’s books at present who could play at a higher level, if his defensive attributes could be improved to match his other undoubted talents.
    He is what I would describe as a cultured full back, composed on the ball,with a great left foot, who “plays with his head up” & is equally effective in all areas of the pitch when in possession.
    I only wish Cardiff could attract players of similar age, quality & potential rather than the usual 30 plus journeymen.

  15. MIKE HOPE says:

    After Paul’s masterpiece on the Villa game I made the half in jest comment that before the Bristol derby we had the friendly against Fulham.
    Yesterday looked so much like the pre-season friendlies we used to play against skilful continental sides.
    I remember teams like Racing Santander who treated the game as a training session as they passed the ball around us without worrying too much whether they won the game.
    Shinpads were probably optional as no-one expected a tackle!
    I used to think that Latin footballers were more skilful than ours for two main reasons.Firstly they did not have to play on muddy pitches where the ball could double in weight and secondly it was too hot to run around for 90 minutes!
    If these reasons were ever true, they are not now, and most of our players should feel embarrassed that they made Fulham look like Barcelona
    I agree with AOB’s comments.Fulham’s no10 Cairney gave a master class in how to receive,protect and release the ball.
    Whittingham could still do this– if he was in the Fulham team!
    I fear that intricate passing amongst some of our concrete boots would only set us up to be counter attacked.
    We are entitled to hope that our younger Academy players ,whether they make it to the first team or not, will all emerge with the basic skills shown by Fulham.
    The current manager seems to have the basics in place to achieve this with the appointment of Bellamy but his priority has to be to get the first team playing to its strengths.
    I don’t think Neil will be too concerned by Sunday’s performance.Iam sure he will have learned more about how to play against Fulham than they will have learned about us.
    I thought he showed his acceptance of defeat when he brought on Mark Harris (clearly one for the future) rather than Zohore.
    I agree with Dai Woosnam’s comments about Lambert (though he would not be on my team sheet for Bristol) but in the case of Bennet I think Dai is developing a nasty case of Barry Cole/slade syndrome!
    OK Joe had a mare against the excellent and pacy Fredericks in the first half -as would most Championship left backs given so little cover-but as he is no Maldini I thought he had a respectable second period inboth defence and attack
    He could have won us a penalty if Mike Dean had been the referee and I’m sure the fat lip he gave Johansen as a birthday present was an accident!

  16. Dai Woosnam says:

    Mike,
    You forget one thing about our Barry…
    While we all stood up for Russell Slade, Barry had the guts to be in a minority of one in MAYA.
    And guess what?
    He was proven to have been right, all the time. And Mr Slade’s subsequent spell at The Valley was equally fruitless.
    So if it is a “nasty case of the Barry Cole/slade syndrome”, I’ve developed, then please can I have a double dose?
    As for Mr Bennett, let me though remind you (as explained in my first posting above) that I have been on his case at least three years longer than most other readers of this blog, so “developing” is not quite the right word. “Developed”, more like, in the case of Joe Bennett.
    That said, I like to think I can be fair: and I agree that he was not as spectacularly hopeless in the second 45 on Sunday.

  17. Colin Phillips says:

    Not a lot to add to what has already been said.

    I felt cheated on Sunday I expended more energy in my seat that Emyr Huws did on the pitch. Refunds to spectators should be taken out of his wages!

    I want to draw a line under the performance. It was a shambles. Halford didn’t seem to know if he was one of a back three or the holding mid-fielder.

    Can’t help but feel that the players picked up on Warnock’s apathy toward the game.

  18. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Just one or two quick thoughts on some of the issues raised.
    I thought I’d read on his Wikipedia entry that Russell Slade was renowned for his team talks, but, if it was there, it’s gone now! Anyway, based on how slowly we’d start matches or second halves when he was in charge, it never struck me that Slade was much of a motivator – in fact, we seemed to be at our best in the middle third of halves when anything he’d said had faded from the memory and the thought of having to listen to him again pretty soon had not yet settled in! I’m not being entirely serious there, but I suppose that, either way, there are always certain players who will respond to one manager better than they do to most others – it’s certainly true that Lex Immers played by far his best football under Slade and there would have been no way we would have signed him permanently based on what he showed while playing for Trollope and Warnock.
    Like virtually all of the players who sign for Championship clubs, Joe Bennett has weaknesses, one of them being that, in common with many who play in the position these days, he’s a full back who is not great at defending. I said in my piece for the Brentford match that I thought he was at fault with their second equaliser and now he’s made it two games in three where fingers could be pointed at him re the concession of goals. I remember what Dai said at the time we signed him and, to a degree, it mirrored my thoughts because I could remember Joe Mason turning him inside out, not once, but twice, on his way to scoring up at Middlesbrough. However, Harry (welcome to the blog!) is right about Fredericks, who was a very effective attacking right back on the day and he has impressed me once or twice lately in televised matches. I also agree with Harry that most full backs would have struggled against such an opponent if they were left to cope by themselves. Overall, I think Bennett has done pretty well this season and I’d say there are areas of the equad (e.g. goalkeeper and attacking depth) that should be of more concern to Neil Warnock than left back.
    I agree with AMO about Cairney, the Fulham number ten, who I’ve always rated since he emerged as a teenager in Hull’s Premier League side, but there is also the suspicion that he was made to look better than he was by our clod hopping team’s attempts to play anything relating to “proper” football – you’re right Lindsay, there was more anger than normal in what I wrote and the biggest reason for it, was how hard so many of our players (many of them I would have thought have earned in excess of £1 million in their careers by now, given modern wages for footballers) made simple tasks like trapping and passing a football look.
    All I know about “Music to Watch Girls By” is that it’s been on my Spotify play list for ages – great song!

  19. Dai Woosnam says:

    Dear Harry Kirtley,
    I appreciate your spirited response to my words, and I salute you for your brio. And Mr Bennett would be proud of your efforts to state a case for him being in the team.
    Alas for me though, the top and bottom of it is this: the guy physically LOOKS the part. In the same way that a Steven Caulker LOOKED the part. (Whatever happened to HIS career, incidentally?)
    When Bennett runs forward he looks extremely graceful. And it may well be that he might make an attacking midfielder. But I doubt it.
    Now, that preamble over, let us get to the REALLY interesting bit.
    Is Harry Kirtley on your birth certificate? Are you indeed the son of the great Harry? I am perhaps one of only three or four contributors to this blog who actually SAW Harry Kirtley play. And a very stylish player he was.
    His brain just oozed SOUND THINKING.
    But on the off-chance that you have so bravely adopted a persona, let me say this…

    Now, it is not for me to suggest you choose another pen name to hide behind, but may I respectfully suggest that you are not living up to the “sound thinking” inherent in your name with this kind of remark:
    ‘…
    Bennett is one of the few players on City’s books at present who could play at a higher level, if his defensive attributes could be improved
    …’

    Eh? If his DEFENSIVE attributes could be improved…!!! Is this April the First?

    I suggest you ponder on those words “Harry”. For is Bennett an attacker? No. Is he a midfielder? No.
    He is …wait for it…


    a DEFENDER.

    I rest my case, M’lud.

  20. Royalewithcheese says:

    On the subject of pen names, did any of you contribute to Michael Morris’s message board in ‘the good old days’? If so, what were your pen names? Are we old friends or, perish the thought, old adversaries? There are so many good writers on here now I can’t believe you haven’t all been busy honing your skills somewhere.

    May I add my thanks to Bob. Your site has truly become the go-to place after City matches for me now. Is it taking much ‘policing’, Bob? Or are we simply fortunate as yet to be attracting the relatively sane?

  21. Lindsay Davies says:

    Well said, Royale (great pen-name, by the way). I’ve always, naively, laboured under my own actual name. Mind you, I’ve never joined a blog previously. Here’s something to cheer Dai W up, and take his mind off Mr Bennett. From today’s “Guardian”, harking back to a ManU/Hull C match of 1952, and quoting their football writer of the 50s, Donny Davies (no relation) on the geat Raich Carter : “It was said of Whistler – probably by himself – that he mixes his paint with his brains. That is what Carter does with his football. Only so, could a player hope to get through a gruelling cup-tie at strolling pace, and yet leave his mark on proceedings.” Nearly as good as Geoffrey Green, Dai? Apparently, Archie Gemmell’s brilliant apercu on Graeme Souness – “If he was a chocolate drop, he’d eat himself.” – could have been applied to Carter a couple of decades earlier. (Davies died in the Munich air-crash).

  22. MIKE HOPE says:

    Dai,just a couple of quick points.
    The original Harry Kirtley-yes great inside forward for us in the fifties until he broke a leg . I think he was a mackem (Sunderland)
    Barry Cole was right about Slade!.
    Was he?
    I recall him telling us every week that our squad would be in the top 2 if we had a decent manager.
    If you really think he was right about that then the BC/s is well developed!

  23. The other Bob Wilson says:

    It’s pure luck Royale. In the coming up to seven and a half years of the blog’s existence, I’m proud to say I’ve never edited any of the Feedback I’ve had unless it was with the writer’s permission and there’s not been one instance of me refusing to put something on here because I thought it was offensive or inappropriate. There was a Wolves fan who came on here a while back (it may have been after our win there last season) looking to indulge in some pathetic “banter”, but I just told him he had come to the wrong place if that was what he was looking for – his message is still on here somewhere.

  24. BJA says:

    Paul – A little late to join the ‘fun’ this week, so I have had time to digest your thoughts and those of others. Because of another commitment on Sunday, I did not see the affair which I had recorded until later in the day although I had an inkling of the result. Our performance, as everyone has stated was a complete shambles, with only Messrs Bamba and Murphy deserving their corn. Fulham were good, but were they really that good or was it that we made them look good. And herein lies the problem. Where was the direction from our Managerial team.
    NW from the TV pictures that I saw did not seem to be too bothered with his team’s efforts on the day and that bothers me. Is he really the Messiah to advance our cause…. hmmm? Where was the ‘hairdryer’ treatment? Few in blue advanced their cause for regular selection.
    And on the future playing front, just what is NW’s influence or is the Club’s famous transfer committee calling all the shots?
    The Club releases Immers without a fee,but sign Halford ( an NW old boy ) when we have no money! NW has a hunch about someone we have never heard of, we pay salaries to two oldies and let them go after 3 months, we let the young Welsh player of the year in 2015 go to Colchester ( he scored in an under 23 game yesterday ), but allegedly wish to buy a winger operating in Scotland who has not fared too well previously in the Championship. There is no mention of a recall for Saadi from the Continent, and we are letting many of our youngsters leave. There is more but I’ll leave it there for the moment. Depressing.
    If it is all to do with Financial Fair Play then it would be good to know exactly what is our situation in season 2016 -17. I suspect that it is, because for the second year in succession we have taken TV’s money for FA Cup matches by agreeing to stage both of the home matches on a Sunday – 2016 against Shrewsbury with a 6.00 pm kick off
    ( attendance 4,782 ), and this year against Fulham with a kick off at 11.30 am
    ( attendance 5,199 ). It would appear that the Club clearly value the TV revenue more than gate receipts from either home or visiting spectators by accepting outrageous and inconvenient kick off times.
    If the quest is for the saving of money to avoid a consequential points reduction, forget about buying more players, just make a few of the fringe players who ‘performed’ on Sunday redundant and select those who wish to play for the shirt.
    And by the way, I remember Harry Kirtley, splendid inside forward.

  25. Dai Woosnam says:

    Royale and others here are spot-on. We owe Paul a great debt.
    I can say – hand on heart – that he has never censored a single word of the couple of the hundred thousand plus, I must have written over 5 years or so on this wonderful blog.
    And since I have spent half a lifetime fighting newspaper editors who love to show their importance by editing my words, let me say that this blog and The Living Tradition magazine are the two Beacons of Liberty in my life.
    “Liberty” however does not allow me to play and loose with the facts. I am conscious of the importance of understanding that OPINION is one thing, and FABRICATING “facts” is quite another.
    And I am pleased to see that your goodself and your many contributors all also embrace that view.
    And for the record: let’s hope that my poor opinion of Joe Bennett is proven in the months to come to be a rare example of Dai barking up the wrong tree!

  26. Dai Woosnam says:

    As for why people choose nom-de-plumes…up to a point, I am with Lindsay: some names are clever and worthy of probing deeper, so as to yield up the reason for their origin.
    But that said, in the final analysis I find them unnecessary.
    In reality, it is an insult to all those people who have fought and died for the right for men to speak freely to one another.
    It is acceptable only in totalitarian regimes where you end up in gulags for saying the wrong thing in public. And as far as I know, folk like the estimable Barry Cole (who I have a hunch that deep down – like me – figures that “only dead fish swim with the stream”), won’t disappear in the night.
    So if he can shake off his TonyEvansForever sobriquet for Paul’s blog, why can’t we all? And yes, as I say, I am with our dear friend Lindsay in thinking the reason why we choose the often highly idiosyncratic nom de plumes we do, is kinda interesting. Whether Paul’s choice was due to him being a closet Arsenal fan, or a City goalkeeper manqué, or (as I believe) because he was an admirer of Bob Wilson’s splendid impartiality, is indeed of some considerable degree of interest…but it still flies in the face of what is right.
    Here’s the thing…it comes down to this. We live in a relatively free society, and we should exercise those freedoms we have, lest non-use of them be seen as an excuse by the Establishment to take them all away.
    And trust me, they will.
    So that is why I call our blogmeister “Paul”, and not “OBW”.
    And yes, before some wag writes in and says Freedom means he has the right to call himself AdolfHitlerForever (or other such provocatively tasteless nom-de-plumes), I would of course concede that they are right.
    But it is a little sad as far as I am concerned. We should all have the guts to put our real name to our words, and stand or fall by them. And when one is hidden, one is more likely to fly kites and say things one would never think of saying under one’s own name.
    How do I know? Because I too have sinned dear readers…I too have used a sobriquet in the past. And I bizarrely found myself deciding to have another sobriquet on that same site to deliberately rubbish what my other character had said, in order to (excuse the silly arrogance on my part here) liven the blog up a bit…!!

    No need to liven this blog up, that’s for sure…not with the likes of Harry (Kirtley) prowling!!
    So because there is the risk of someone similarly adopting more than one persona, were I running a blog, I would insist on a scanned copy of someone’s passport to prove they are who they say they are.
    And yes I know…I would have one man and his dog contributing…!! But boys, I can dream, can’t I?

  27. In a friendly debate or discussion the identity of either protagonist is of little importance. It is the factual evidence that either can provide that will determine who, if anyone comes out on top.

    Where football is concerned what annoys me most is hearing so-called supporters shouting insults/abuse at Cardiff City players during a game. The more cultured players seem to suffer most with Stephen McPhail, Jay Bothroyd & Jordon Mutch being amongst the victims in recent years.

    It was after reading Dai Woosnam’s virtual annihilation of another cultured City professional, Joe Bennett that led me to respond via Paul’s excellent blog. In my humble opinion the critisism was both unwarranted & inaccurate.

    Let me take this opportunity to remind Mr Woosnam that Joe has represented his Country at Under 19, 20 & 21 level. He’s played Premiership football on more than 100 occasions for Middlesbrough & Aston Villa, following a £3m transfer & hardly missed a game whilst on a season long loan at Championship, Brighton.

    Does that bare any resemblence to Mr Woosnam’s description of Joe & I quote:
    “hopeless distribution”, “poor heading”, ineffective tackling”, “cannot cross”, “cannot tackle” “a cheat” & “not worthy of the minimum wage”. “A complete disaster of a footballer whom he would not have signed on a free transfer”.

    Would anyone with these deficiences have survived for even 5 minutes in the Premiership let alone play on more than 100 occasions?

    I have asked Mr Woosnam how many times he’s seen Joe play LIVE to form such an opinion. As yet I have had no response.

    Joe is far from the finished article, suffering like many others of his generation in being converted into a full back when his natural instincts & talents are to run with the ball.

    Most well coached sides compensate for playing attack minded full backs by selecting 3 central defenders or more recently 2 sitting mid fielders. Unfortunately, last Sunday a very badly prepared City side quickly abandoned 3 central defenders by pushing Halford into the centre of a very narrow midfield exposing Joe to the pace & skills of an impressive Ryan Fredericks.

    In all sincerity, I hope that Mr Warnock soon abandons his quest to bring ageing journeymen to our Club during the Jan’ transfer window, simply to preserve our Championship status & seek out young, promising players like Joe Bennett upon whom we can build a promising future.

  28. Dai Woosnam says:

    Dear Harry Kirtley or Joe Bennett’s dad or whoever you are:
    First, your opinion manifestly isn’t “humble”.
    Second, your idea of a “friendly debate” is a curious one. Joe McCarthy would have done well with you as a henchman.
    Third, you might be auditioning for a part in Perry Mason, but I will have no part of your question/answer games.

    Now brave man…unmask yourself. Who are you? Don’t be hiding behind this name.
    And PS …seeing as you are so interested in “facts”: get them RIGHT please. For when you talk of “The Premiership”…are you talking of the Aviva Premiership Rugby?
    If it is the EPL you are talking about, it is called the English PREMIER LEAGUE.

  29. Dai Woosnam says:

    Good morning, all.
    Just had a phone call from Wales.
    As Paul knows, he has considerably more blog READERS than blog contributors. And this friend of mine on the phone, would not be a contributor in a thousand years, but is an avid reader.
    And he has just rang me with this quite serious suggestion…one that bowled me over.
    He genuinely wondered if I was …(wait for it…)
    …Harry Kirtley…!!
    When I picked myself up off the floor, I replied “No, I emphatically am NOT Harry Kirtley. And for that matter nor (whether it be a he or a she) is “Harry Kirtley” Harry Kirtley.
    Btw, Paul…in my posting of 9.55pm yesterday, I was slipshod in that I never proof-read it.
    And I note I missed out the word “fast” in this sentence…
    ‘…
    Liberty” however does not allow me to play FAST and loose with the facts.
    …’
    Sincere apologies.

  30. Lindsay Davies says:

    Regarding our Blogmeister’s nom-de-plume, (no noms-de-guerre on this site!), I hesitate to add to Dai W’s speculations on the subject as I regard him as one of MAYA’s Masterminds of all things Bluebird, but didn’t we have our own ‘keeper called Bob Wilson? The one who was beaten by Uwe Seeler’s deflected header/shot in the Cup-Winners’ Cup semi-final (1968?)? He surely was the original OBW.
    As for Barry Cole, I’m wholeheartedly with him on Slade (my own even greater distaste dates back to OGS’s reign), but the fact that his former alias evokes one my Holy Trinity of Bluebirds – Tapscott, Brian Clark, and Tony Evans – gives off an even warmer glow.

  31. The other Bob Wilson says:

    It came about when I was thinking of a name to post on a City messageboard under (there may be a few who post under their real names there, but I’d say you can count them on the fingers of one hand). I just thought that if you asked football supporters in general who they thought of when the name Bob Wilson was mentioned to them, you’d get a uniform reply, whereas ask City fans of a certain age the same question and they think of last minute blunders against Hamburg – to be fair, I also think of some great saves that got us to the Semi Final.
    Although I’m called Paul increasingly on that messageboard these days. the majority refer to me as either Bob or TOBW and I’m happy enough with that, although I’d probably just stick to my own name if I was going to do it again.

  32. Dai Woosnam says:

    COMRADE-IN-ARMS, PAUL, AND DEARLY BELOVED BRETHREN,
    I am stepping out of the tent and leaving you to the delights of our new friend Harry Kirtley. I am just going outside and may be some time.

    Now, before I start, let me make my usual apologies for my punctuation. But as Paul and AMO will testify from our meetings and chats together, I actually SPEAK identically to the way I write. And I enter hospital next week to see if they can remove the otiose exclamation marks, ellipses and parentheses …!! [Weak joke.]
    Right..preamble over.
    Lindsay, dear boy! I am in your debt!
    Just as you thanked me for cracking the code on Royale’s Andy Williams video, I have to thank YOU for making me realise what should have been the “bl*edin obvious” re OBW! I feel such a dunce forgetting our keeper and his personal nightmare moment in that semi final 2nd leg, back in 1968.
    But “dunce” though I am on that matter, I have enough upstairs and enough fortitude to see off the bluster of Harry (or should that be Harrietta?)
    And talking of “upstairs”…by golly, Lindsay, you certainly have a light on in your upstairs library, that’s for sure!
    Only you would have raised the nuanced difference between nom-de-plume and nom-de-guerre. Methinks, though, maybe the latter would be more suitable for me here, as I am about to go to war with “Harry Kirtley”…in a civilised way, of course…always cognisant of the Geneva Convention, and actually only going to war on his/her WORDS, and not HK the person…who of course, I actually wish well.

    I have been waiting for some of you guys to weigh in with a correction of his/her biggest howler…but I guess he/she has taken you all in. (I will say “his” from now on, rather than “his/her”, to save time.)

    But he has not taken ME in. And never will…not in a thousand years. I have met his type before: someone ostensibly appearing as a knight on a white charger, racing to the rescue of the honour of someone facing unfair persecution.
    He even (almost sacrilegiously) adopts the name of a very graceful footballer of the past, but alas has none of that good grace in his own writing.
    Just bluster. And an unfortunate ability to bring a “smearing” quality into this very civilised blog. Shame on him.
    But folks, I will say this in support of HK: it is, on first reading, a pretty impressive posting…a veritable Panzer tank invasion of Poland, taking all before it.

    I will come to his biggest howler in a minute. But first please, let us study in depth this posting of his, (see above), dated 11th Jan, at 12.35am.

    Let’s take the first para. In my last postings, I have already dealt with his “friendly” reference, in his first sentence.

    ‘…
    In a friendly debate or discussion the identity of either protagonist is of little importance. It is the factual evidence that either can provide that will determine who, if anyone comes out on top.
    …’

    But it is that second sentence that I wish to flag up. Now folks, make a note of those words…”factual evidence”. He clearly holds “facts” in high esteem. (Remember that for later.)
    And let me also zero-in on the “determines who comes out on top” bit at the end. Do you know something…? …I actually don’t really see it as a “coming out on top”. Call me a masochist if you like, but I occasionally rather LIKE losing an argument. For when I lose one, I am invariably wiser than I was before (which often would not be difficult, in my case…since I am a veritable tabula rasa when it comes to all sorts of subjects). And trust me, on the subject of Joe Bennett, I am sure he is a lovely chap with really great qualities…so there is nothing “personal” here. (And, incidentally, there is no contradiction in thinking a chap can be a really nice man off the field, but practise sneaky dark arts ON it.)
    And so, trust me…I really hope Joe rams my words down my throat …for that will possibly mean that Cardiff City will have benefited and prospered the rest of this season.

    Anyway, back to the HK text. Let us take his second para:

    ‘…
    Where football is concerned what annoys me most is hearing so-called supporters shouting insults/abuse at Cardiff City players during a game. The more cultured players seem to suffer most with Stephen McPhail, Jay Bothroyd & Jordon Mutch being amongst the victims in recent years.
    …’

    Now, the first sentence is one we can all agree with. No civilised person would ever THINK of booing one of their own team…however badly that player was performing. And note the second sentence…because it is (a) linked to the first sentence, and (b) segues neatly into the next para. It is clever stuff: the LITERARY “dark arts” worthy of Pravda. Because para 3 is a beaut. Here it is:

    ‘…
    It was after reading Dai Woosnam’s virtual annihilation of another cultured City professional, Joe Bennett that led me to respond via Paul’s excellent blog. In my humble opinion the critisism was both unwarranted & inaccurate.
    …’

    Geddit? The “culture” word again, linking Joe Bennett with Jay Bothroyd ….(ah…if ONLY…!!), but more insidiously, linking my apparent “annihilation” to the booing of City players mentioned in the previous paragraph…!!
    Clever stuff, HK. I take my hat off to you for that.

    But at the same time, it makes me want to absolutely spit nails.
    Why? Well, because I am a chap who as a very young man grappled with another teenager of my age, simply because he was booing and heckling Trevor Peck as the game was still going on. And there is a witness to my actions still alive. (Name and address available on request!) So, SHAME on you HK, for your cunning conflation of paras 2 and 3…and thus presenting a classic example of “guilt by association”.

    But now we come to para 4 with its howler, that all you switched-on regulars should have pounced on…!! Where were you? Why should I be doing all the Prosecution Counsel work here, boys?!!

    And now, this is para 4 in all its (non) glory:

    ‘…
    Let me take this opportunity to remind Mr Woosnam that Joe has represented his Country at Under 19, 20 & 21 level. He’s played Premiership football on more than 100 occasions for Middlesbrough & Aston Villa, following a £3m transfer & hardly missed a game whilst on a season long loan at Championship, Brighton.
    …’

    Dear me. All these keyboard warriors who think they do “due diligence” by copying out what they see in Wikipedia …!! Trouble is, they don’t really know football. And they walk straight on to the proverbial banana skin.
    Use your head and THINK dear Harry…!! God gave you a BRAIN. (Incidentally, think of possibly adopting “Wikipedia Harry” as your new sobriquet, if you still have not the guts to write under your own name.)

    Do not just copy out what you see, willy-nilly..

    Now forget my earlier picking HK up on his lazy use of “Premiership”…I concede it is a colloquialism generally used by the hoi polloi …though not of course by the cognoscenti.
    Yes, forget that nit-picking of mine, for there are more important RICH-pickings here for any forensic investigator.

    Immediately, I saw HK’s claim of this massive number of Premiership appearances, I smelled a rat. “He has never played ANYTHING like it”, I said to myself.
    And in fairness to Wikipedia, they made no such claim. They said that he had made 30 appearances for the Villa…he signed in 2012. Not a lot, considering it has been a fairly poor team for several years.
    (True, he just had a season-long loan with Brighton. Funny how Chris Hughton who likes “cultured” players, did not decide to sign him permanently, though, eh?)
    Oh, and I then did the hard yards and checked if he had any extra EPL games for Villa under his belt as a sub. And I found out there were 6. (Though for all I know, he might have been hauled off six times too, to cancel them out.)
    But then my eye fell on “Middlesbrough 2008-2012 – 85 appearances, one goal”.
    Wikipedia makes no mention of ”Premiership” (sic) or EPL here.
    Why?
    Well it is obvious to any true FOOTBALL man, isn’t it?
    Because three of the four seasons, the Boro were in the CHAMPIONSHIP…not the EPL…!!
    Harry the Keyboard knight on a white charger, walked right into it. Oh, dear me…Harry & Wikipedia are clearly an “accident waiting to happen”.

    And so guess how many EPL appearances out of 85, our Joe made for his local Boro team?
    Answer…
    …a solitary ONE.
    (It is now looking a bit different eh, to our “Wikipedia Harry’s” daft claim of “He’s played Premiership football on more than 100 occasions”,)

    But let’s stay with that disastrous para 4. HK dutifully copies out the Wikipedia info he sees before him re Bennett’s England caps up to under 21 level.
    As if THAT proves anything…!
    Bennett has exactly the same total number of national appearances up to Under 21, as …wait for it …
    …Ravel Morrison…!!
    I truly am ROTFL.
    And another player like Bennett, who LOOKED the part but was not a true DEFENDER …and whose career has gone as haywire as Morrison’s, actually had THREE times Bennett’s total at junior national level up to but not including full cap. I refer to the man Paul Abbandonato used to laughably call a “colossus” …Steven Caulker.

    So HK, such stats are meaningless.

    But not according to our “Wikipedia Harry”…oh no. He thinks he is cooking with gas, now. Get this, his para 5…it’s a gem in its way…he bangs on about appearances (as in para 3, I have not corrected his spelling)

    ‘…
    Does that bare any resemblence to Mr Woosnam’s description of Joe & I quote:“hopeless distribution”, “poor heading”, ineffective tackling”, “cannot cross”, “cannot tackle” “a cheat” & “not worthy of the minimum wage”. “A complete disaster of a footballer whom he would not have signed on a free transfer”. ?Would anyone with these deficiences have survived for even 5 minutes in the Premiership let alone play on more than 100 occasions?
    …’

    The answer to your question at the end there, HK, is an emphatic YES. Your so-called “Premiership” have had all sorts of incompetents turning out. How about Philippe Senderos and Gary Caldwell for starters?! There was a guaranteed ricket a game, from both.
    And so JB’s 31 appearances are easily achieved over all these years.

    But HK thinks he is doing well here, and now smells blood and zeroes in for the kill, having either previously read on MAYA – or just typed in my name and used a search engine to easily ascertain – that I no longer live in South Wales, so thinks he has me at a disadvantage, and he delivers this pearler of a pithy para:
    ‘…
    I have asked Mr Woosnam how many times he’s seen Joe play LIVE to form such an opinion. As yet I have had no response.
    …’
    He thinks he has me checkmate. But think again, HK. For here is another instance where he has not thought things through. Let me explain.

    In recent years, I have ensured EVERY game that City play that is screened on satellite TV or BBC Wales, is recorded in full (including post-match interviews and analysis) for me to study closely . Even if I am out of the country – as I was for nearly two months last winter, fighting serious debilitating illness in Malta – they are still all recorded for me to study closely.

    My early life saw little televised professional football, so if I wanted to see the “real thing”, I had to travel to Cardiff from the Rhondda

    And trust me, there was a time in my youth when I did not miss a home game at Ninian for ten years…and that included all friendlies and Welsh Cup games. Sometimes there would be no train from Porth to Ninian Park Halt, so I would catch a train to Cardiff General and walk from there. The 16-0 win over Knighton Town was one such game.

    And when I eventually got to see highlights of what I had seen that day on my b&w 17 inch TV, it seemed like a poor substitute.

    But not these days. with my giant flatscreen colour TV just 3 yards from my bed. Not with the ingenuity of SKY and BT SPORT multi cameras. In fact, for many years now, I’ve realised that I can get learn a lot more from my TV viewing of a game, than my actual in-the-flesh viewing. (Wembley in 2008 being a case in point.)

    But fancying HK will come up with some bolloxio like “there is no substitute for seeing someone playing LIVE”, let me ask him three questions:
    1. How many times did he see Pele play in the flesh…and was he able to form an opinion of him?
    2. How many times did he see Maradona play in the flesh…and was he able to form an opinion of him?
    3. How many times did he see Messi play in the flesh…and was he able to form an opinion of him?
    I rest my case of course. He thought he had me in a straitjacket, tied hand and foot, but with one bound I am as free as Harry Houdini.
    Seriously though…I don’t know why I am bothering responding to such damned foolery. Particularly coming from a guy who I am fairly sure had no clue as to who JB was when he rolled up at the CCS, six months ago, (Evident from his total ignorance of his time at The Boro.)

    But with Wikipedia, we are all suddenly Leslie Welch, and have a Ph.D in chutzpah.

    I am running out of steam here now, so forgive me if I cut the rest of the letter short. But I have to make mention of his closing para. Here it is: it is absolutely priceless…

    ‘…
    In all sincerity, I hope that Mr Warnock soon abandons his quest to bring ageing journeymen to our Club during the Jan’ transfer window, simply to preserve our Championship status & seek out young, promising players like Joe Bennett upon whom we can build a promising future.
    …’

    How old do you think this “young, promising player” is? No doubt older than the 16 year old Fulham youngster who has scored against us twice this season, and older than the 16 year old Trevor Francis, who used to bang in goals for fun? Oh yes.

    Would I shock you by saying that in two months time he will be 27 years old…?!
    And 27 is ten years older than Michael Owen was when he scored “that” goal, and ten years older than Pele was when he put us out of the World Cup in Sweden.

    Hardly “young promising player”, eh? And he is actually two months OLDER than one of the “ageing journeymen” who arrived with NW. I refer to Junior Hoilett.

    So to sum up…we must of course CHEER a player while he is playing, but never be afraid of spelling out some truths when the game is ended. Check out Paul’s blog after the Brentford game where I provide the link to the SKY clip that shows JB asleep at his sentry post, and thus helping gift Brentford their second equaliser. Were he a real sentry, he would be doing a month in the glasshouse at Colchester now, for dereliction of duty. Cost City two points.??And one final request…we know Harry is not confident enough to take his mask off. But there is no reason that my estimable friends here with names like Tom C and Walter D, cannot honour their parents.
    Remember the Fifth Commandment: “Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother”. My parents are long dead, but they were wonderful folk who gave me a name that I have been proud to use. Not to use it would be to desecrate their memory.

    It is the same with you. You all owe it to your parents.?
    Bye now. I hope The City survive, but I have it no better than 50-50. One thing for sure is that this blog will survive and continue to THRIVE, with Paul at the tiller.

  33. Colin Phillips says:

    You must be knackered after that epic post, Dai!

    Have a nice, long lie down.

  34. Lindsay Davies says:

    Dai – not so much Michael Mansfield, Q.C., more Clarence Darrow!

  35. russell roberts says:

    Its not a post Colin ,its a trilogy, very enjoyable though.

  36. Paul, I hope you’ll allow me to make one last attempt to convince Dai Woosnam, that any professional footballer that has played in the Premier League has proven ability, deserves respect and should should certainly not be degraded, verbally nor in print, as Mr Woosnam choose to do in his recent description of Joe Bennett.

    You, like me are a regular spectator at Development games & I feel for talented footballers like Theo Wharton. Tommy O’Sullivan. Robbie Patten, Jamie Veale & Macauley Southam who dream of being Premier League players but, at present are desperately trying to earn contracts with clubs in the lower reaches of the Football League.

    Mr Woosnam….Although I find much of your written script difficult to understand I sincerely hope that your reference to “stepping out of the tent” does not in anyway relate to the disappearance of Edgar Evans whilst returning from Scott’s South Pole Expedition in 1912. Believe it or not, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our recent tete-a-tete of recent days.

    I stand severely reprimanded for my mis-spelling of the word “deficiencies” in an earlier script. I’m sure my English teacher, Mr Ken Hopkins, would turn in his grave if he ever found out.

    Strange though it may seem but “We are far more United than the things that Divide us”( Jo Cox’s maiden speech to Parliament, June 2015). And yes, before you pick me up again, I often reference Google & Wikipedia to improve my knowledge.

    It was your mention of the “football special”, two in fact and your reference to Porth Railway station that really made me think that our paths may have crossed in a previous existence. As a small child my father often gave me the afternoon off school to travel on the “football special” to watch the City play at 3.00 on a Wednesday afternoon. No floodlights, in those days, of course. Who knows, we may even have shared the same compartment.

    My idol, in those days, was the centre half, a Londoner called Stan Montomery not Harry Kirtley as you may have assumed. As a child I wanted to replicate his wonderful achievements, to play Ist Division football for Cardiff City & county cricket for Glamorgan. Oh, how I wish I’d have succeeded.

    It proved to me that nevermind how good you think you are or how many people tell you how good you are you can only justify this praise by continuing to prove yourself at a higher level. Anyone who has reaches the highest level must have proven themselves on numerous occasions throughout their schoolboy, youth & reserve team career and is deserving of praise not ridicule.

    Little did I know at that time that Stan would become a great friend of mine as an assistant to George Swindin at the City, as the South Wales scout for Bristol Rovers and a staff coach with the FAW. I loved the stories of the dressing room banter down the City in the 50’s when I stood on the terraces as a star struck child watching my idols. A lovely man who was never given the credit he deserved.

    Now, back to your mention of Porth Railway Station. During the mid-50’s I spent much of my time in Porth & the only Woosnam I came across was my Geography teacher. I had many friends living in Porth, Richard(Snowy)Moore, Roy Love, Idris Morgan, Geoffrey Thomas, Alan Jenkins & most notably Alun Evans who later became Chief Executive of the FAW and remained a close friend until his death in 2011. Was he a mutual aqaintance?

    In those years sport was my life, rugby & cricket at school and football for the boys’ club. Throughout those school years I can never recall an opponent named Dai Woosnam in any of the three sports previously mentioned. Did you ever participate or were you simply a follower, a la Alun Evans? No critisism intended.

    If a follower you may never have experienced the thrill of participation, of pitting your skills against an opponent, of winning the individual battle, of trying to solve the problem when losing the battle, of maintaining your composure when you’ve made a mistake or the sheer enjoyment when the game has been won.

    In future, please try your utmost to put yourself in the position of the Joe Bennett’s of the footballing world, give them the utmost credit for playing as a professional footballer at Championship level, think of work they’ve put into achieving their ambition, give them a little slack when things are going wrong & then & only then put your thoughts into print.

    Once again, I will close this “defence of the professional sportsman” with my nom de plume, Mr Harry Kirtley, a City player I greatly admired, for unlike your good self I consider my views not my name to be of more importance in this debate.

  37. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Once upon a time I read a story about an old, long-retired warhorse. When he heard the sound of a trumpet, he would immediately rise up, ready to go into battle, even into the Valley of Death. I thought of that response when following the comments of two veteran wordsmith warriors on this page, both with roots in Porth, who express divergent viewpoints on this very site. Both have been expressing themselves in a fairly civilised fashion, but in such matters there is always the risk of an escalation into a war of words, what I once saw pretentiously described as a logomachy.

    At the risk of sounding equally pretentious myself, I am reminded of the French expression “revenons a nos moutons”, meaning, “let’s get back to what we were doing originally”. In other words, gentlemen, let’s consider that the present debate has now run its course and therefore turn to other things.

  38. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Well said AMO.

  39. Colin Phillips says:

    Harry, I feel our paths must have crossed, if you were taught English by the esteemed Ken Hopkins, he was my (our) form master. Was a good friend and fellow pupil (same form) of Roy Love, knew Alun Jenkins and Alun Evans ( can’t place, Snowy).

    Was the geography teacher you mention known as “Bushman”?

    I was very short when in school and along with Gwyn Rees and John Garwood ( both Porth boys) we could have auditioned for ‘Snow White’ I went by the rather ridiculous soubriquet of “WAVY” , God, I hated that name.

    That’s stirred up a few memories for you, I bet.

    Sorry to bore the other contributors with the reminisces, but I was drawn in.

    Back to the Bluebirds and hopes of a great result against the “carrot crunchers”.

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