It’s all a Swansea plot I tell you!

CoymayFirst thing I want to say is well done to Steve Borley for agreeing to attend Tuesday’s Supporters’ Trust Committee meeting  following his recent online dispute with the organisation. However, for me, the latest Twitter outburst from the City Director goes to the heart of so much that is wrong with the club at the moment.

Before going on to that though, I’d like to talk about the Wales Online “open letter” to Vincent Tan that prompted Mr Borley’s response.

I believe that, based on the events of the last three years (the decision to change to red became public knowledge almost three years ago to the day), such a letter was justified. It needs to be said mind that on field performances are the main barometer for gauging how their club is doing for most fans and so it should be recorded that, for the first of the three seasons in which we started the campaign in red, these were perfectly acceptable, bar the odd quibble from some fans about the quality of the entertainment on offer.

However, if you look beyond those horizons, my opinion is that legitimate questions could be asked about the way the club was being run – in fact, this stretches way back beyond Vincent Tan’s time, for me it dates back to the time that Mr Borley stood down as Chairman to let Sam Hammam take over.

My main gripe with the “open letter” is that it doesn’t do a very good job of tackling it’s subject. For example, right at the start, it calls the campaign just ended “One of the worst seasons in the history of Cardiff City FC”.

Well, anyone whose time supporting City runs into decades, rather than since their FA Cup Final appearance in 2008, will know that this statement is absolute rubbish – eleventh place in the second tier is higher than I’ve seen us finish in thirty nine of the fifty one seasons I’ve supported the club.

That said, if the words “in terms of value for money” had been added on to the end of the statement, I would have had no problems with it. I’ve said it a few times on here before, but for me City’s 2014/15 squad (particularly the one we had in the first half of the season) was the worst I’ve seen in my time supporting the club when they are measured in terms of value for money – so much cash spent for so little quality out on the pitch.

There is also something of an arrogance to the letter that doesn’t sit well with me. The one of the worst seasons in history assertion, the claim that someone with a CV like Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink “would probably walk over the Severn Bridge from Burton to take over at the club where he once played” and the claim that Cardiff City Stadium is “traditionally a fortress” when it has, like Ninian Park before it, been anything but that for the large majority of its existence  all suggest to me that the writer has a more inflated view of what Cardiff City should be than what history tells us it actually is – I’d say mid table in the second tier is just about the club’s default setting for its ninety five years as a Football league club.

Another thing I must say about this letter is that it would be a bit more convincing if it had come from a source which is less prone to jump on bandwagons when it sees them. Now speaking as someone who grudgingly accepted the rebrand at first, I can accept that it’s possible to change your mind about such matters, but the Echo’s coverage of that subject, with its subsequent forgetfulness of its apparent conversion to the blue cause of about a year ago, won itself few friends based on the conversations I’ve had on the matter.

So, for me at least, the open letter could and should have been better than it turned out, but who wrote it?

Well, although I see Mr Borley appears to have withdrawn the tweets now, he was adamant that it was Chris Wathan, saying

“@ChrisWathan is behind today’s disgraceful letter in the Echo. He doesn’t hide the fact he is a Swansea fan but can’t get a job on the Post”

on Friday night and

“The team dedicated the win to @ChrisWathan and WalesOnline”

after yesterday’s game at Forest.

Now, a personal view is that Mr Wathan’s writing is often of a better quality than that seen in the open letter, but, that’s by the by – the question which springs to mind to me is should it be accepted that he wrote it just because Steve Borley says so?

What’s probably more important for the purposes of this piece though is the implied suggestion that Mr Wathan has an axe to grind because he is a jack.

Although I’ve not seen anything from the man himself to say he’s a Swansea supporter (in fact I’ve seen messageboard claims that he is a Spurs fan), let’s accept for now that Mr Borley is right and the writer of the open letter is, indeed, a jack, then my next question is why should this invalidate everything that appears in the Echo’s open letter?

Tellingly for me, Russell Slade cut short a pre match press conference a few months ago shortly after what seemed to me to be fairly gentle questioning by Chris Wathan, accusing the Echo man of being a Swansea supporter while doing so. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that the view Chris Wathan = jack, is a common one among those who occupy the bunker at Cardiff City Stadium.

I use the word “bunker” there purposely because it seems an appropriate one to use when you think of it’s connection with the word “mentality”.

If Messrs Slade and Borley, along with others in positions of authority at the club, really do believe that it is only jacks who are being critical of Cardiff City during a season which, although not among the worst in the club’s history, has been a very poor one given the money spent on it and the level at which the side has been competing in the last decade or so, then they are deluding themselves.

City director Steve Borley is a fierce defender of the club and owner Vincent Tan on his Twitter account, but is there sometimes a case of him being too close to the action so to speak?

City director Steve Borley is a fierce defender of the club and owner Vincent Tan on his Twitter account, but is it sometimes a case of him being a bit too close to the action, so to speak, to be objective in his views?

On the subject of the jacks, I’ve mentioned before that my attitude towards them is different from many other City supporters because I still don’t see them as our greatest rivals. The truth is that Swansea were never good enough to be in the same league as us during my formative years as a City fan, so it’s the team we always used to play more than any other local side back in those days, Bristol City, who’ll always be our real rivals as far as I’m concerned.

That said, I know I’m in a minority in thinking like that and I would say I have been surprised that there have been so few gloating jacks appearing on the City messageboards I use during the course of the season.

Could it be that many Swansea fans now think they are above us in much the same way I used to about them back in the late 60s and early 70s? In a way it would be understandable if they did – after all, they are celebrating their highest ever points total gained in a Premier League season and there is still a possibility that they could be playing in the Europa League next season by virtue of their finishing position in the so called strongest league in the world.

Compare that to what has happened at Cardiff in 14/15 when we have  looked as far away from the Premier League as at any time since 04/05 – even the most optimistic Cardiff fan has to accept that, at no time since late November, did we look even remotely like obtaining a top six finish.

So, I’d say to Messrs Slade and Borley, and anyone else in the Cardiff City bunker who want to look at things in a Cardiff/Swansea light, that, under your watch, our biggest Welsh rivals are disappearing into the distance as they prosper and we thrash about enduring yet another “transition phase” brought about because of a combination of our gigantic debt and poor decisions made on and off the pitch. As an aside, I’d also mention that I’ve seen Swansea age group sides come to Cardiff and win three times so far this year, so it’s not just at first team level that they are outperforming us.

If things have to be put in a Cardiff v Swansea perspective, then we are coming second virtually everywhere, so, whatever the motivation for the open letter, surely much of what is in it is valid and true?

Speaking for myself, the jacks are very far from my thoughts when I attend home matches these days. I see apathy and, worst of all, the beginnings of the gallows humour/take the piss mentality that I used to be so familiar with in the past when we were crap year in, year out, but had temporarily forgotten about, all around when I go to games now – and that’s from those who can still be bothered attending.

It was good to see that Mehmet Dalman felt the need to apologise to City fans for the way the season has gone at last week’s awards night ceremony, but whose view really represents how those in charge at Cardiff think these days? Is it the one we see in Mr Dalman’s public utterances or the one Mr Borley and one or two others have let slip in recent months? I can’t help thinking that we are in deep, deep trouble if it’s the latter – talk about fiddling while Rome burns!

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9 Responses to It’s all a Swansea plot I tell you!

  1. Graham smith says:

    why is there so much bile between Cardiff and Swansea? It isjust one of the problems with football as it seems necessary to hate the local teams. They are both Welsh, at least geographically, and I want success for both teams. Swansea win always welcomed save when they play Cardiff who I have supported for over 50 years. It is also time to adjust the bar of expectation, Premier league is not the norm, mediocrity in the second tier has been, over the time I have been a supporter. Fingers crossed for next year and hope the norm is not “the norm”

  2. Matt N says:

    Thanks Paul,
    I always had the feeling that the letter had been penned by Scott Johnson. I gave up reading his articles as I felt they were at best knee jerk and at worst cheap incendiary pieces.
    On the Swansea issue, as a staunch supporter of the national team, I can’t say a word against a well run, Welsh club which is feeding talent and experience into the side. I enjoy the banter when an ex Jack enters the field of play, but have never been one to stand up to show hatred for our neighbours. As you say, Bristol is a far more logical target for strong rivalry.
    Thanks for another season of balanced and thoughtful reports, I hope come August, you’ll have some positives to write about. I can’t help thinking though that we’ll be in for a bit of a slog as whilst we’ve stood still (ok, gone backwards at speed), many of our rivals have evolved styles light years from where we seem to be.
    Have a good summer and all the best to the usual Commenters.

  3. Anthony O'Brien says:

    A masterly dissection of the somewhat odious “open letter” which in many of its assertions you effectively destroy while remaining – as always – fair-minded and charitable. I applaud, too, the sense both of fair play and common sense which Graham Smith and Matt N reveal in their own responses to your missive. This is so typical of the mauveandyellowarmy site that it is always thought-provoking and a pleasure to read. Dai Woosnam has summed it up perfectly in his own remarks in the previous one to this. Like all your readers, therefore, I look forward with keen anticipation to subsequent columns in the near future. Congratulations.

  4. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks to all three of you for your contributions.

    Graham, good to hear from you and I agree with you about other Welsh clubs. I’ve been watching Newport County on and off for over forty years and currently get to two or three matches a season which I write about on here – if I do have a second team, then I guess it’s County. However, I have seen one or two comments from City fans to the effect that I’m some sort of traitor for, first, going to those games and, second, hoping County win them – I just don’t get that. It’s far from one sided as well, I worked in Newport for twenty years and sometimes I’d get into football conversations with locals on nights out. There were a few times when the person’s attitude changed completely when I revealed I was a City fan – it never came to anything violent, but the person definitely became more hostile. Also, when I go to Newport games now I tend to make sure I’m not wearing any City gear as I reason it’s just not worth it given the trouble it may cause.

    Thanks for your contributions throughout the season Matt. I’d love to be able to be more positive in my writing, but, rather like you, I’m not too optimistic about next season at the moment and I’m afraid I can see those wurzels taking to the Championship as successfully as Wolves and Brentford have done this year – they’ll have a huge amount of momentum behind them after the season they’ve had.

    Thanks again for some very flattering comments Anthony. I’ve got to say that, increasingly, I’m hearing that people really enjoy the feedback that my pieces receive nowadays. I agree with that and would say that this has become a very important part of the blog – please keep them coming everybody!

  5. Very good article, the first time I have visited this site, I am a Swansea Jack but a Welshman first and foremost and honestly I want all the Welsh clubs to do well, Wrexham included. The open letter was ridiculous and counter productive and in my view completely missed the point regarding the present situation with Cadiff City.
    I believe you have to take 2 steps back before you can take 1 step forward and a mid to long term prognosis essential to the future welfare of the club. An insatiable hunger for instant success designed to catapult Cardiff straight back into the holy grail (PL) could prove disastrous, how will you achieve it? Change the manager?Buy more established players? Throw another 100M into the pot? Double the debt?
    You have to learn from the lessons of the past, expensive players who in all honesty probably took more out of the club than they put in, are not he answer. Cardiff should not ever allow themselves to be held to ransom by football mercenaries or their agents, I believe you have to rebuild from the bottom up not from the top down. Remember, the Swansea success story has taken well over a decade and started with a philosophy which still holds true today.
    So what do Cadiff do
    1 have a 3-5 year plan designed to cement their position as a Championship team playing good football, the quality of football with the emphasis on ball retention allied to passing and movement is essential to continued fan support, at Swansea the fans bought into our philosophy 100% from day 1 Cardiff need to do the same.
    2 I’m not sure of the current set up but the fans trust role needs to be expanded to be more inclusive in ALL aspects of the way the club is run, on and off the field. This is vital to maintain loyalty among the fans.
    3 Put any financial investment available into youth development and look around for good young footballers you can bring on, we are finding footballers actually want to play for Swansea City because of the way we play and how that style will help them develop, a few years ago this was unthinkable Swansea who?
    4 It may well be that Russell Slade is the best man to oversee this crucial period, he is aware of the need to manage the playing side of the club within financial restraints to avoid the debt spiralling out of control, would any new manager prepared to do the same? I think not.
    There is much more I could add to the above but a short term slight lowering of expectation whilst you rebuild for the future in a more sustainable manner essential. I wish you the very best of luck.

  6. Huw Perry says:

    Hi Paul,
    Having read your blogs after each game – and related City matters – over last couple of seasons, feels timely to join in with others and thank you for the opinions, fair but challenging criticism and entertaining insight you consistently provide.
    Think I am of similar vintage to you and still regularly attend, however totally agree about the value for money comments. As you state, our default position through my youth and beyond was always mid-table 1st Division ( sorry – that’s in old money for younger posters!). And that’s where we are now.
    If I stop and think too deeply and analyse the financial situation- or what I can make of it – then I become very concerned about the long term stability and wonder how we will get out of another financial mess once VT withdraws support. Until then I guess we all continue to put such thoughts to back of the mind and focus on on- field matters.
    On that front, we await with interest the Summer merry go-round of transfer dealings. Like many others I remain uninspired by the quality of football served up but hope that some of the green shoots from younger, newer players seen in patches over recent weeks offers a blueprint for the way forward. However, we need to define our style and urgently need to add some pace and tempo to our game. The difference between ourselves and the likes of Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich in that sense is blatantly obvious.
    So, onward and upward and let’s keep the faith. Thanks again for all your posts throughout the season.

  7. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Well Derek, you’ve well and truly disproved any theory that a Swansea fan cannot express a valid opinion on how things are at Cardiff City there – thank you for an excellent contribution.
    A few comments about some of the points you make;-
    1. I believe you are so right about instilling a “Cardiff style” – until this season, I’d tended to be in the “who cares as long as we win camp” when it came to the type of football we played, but the prehistoric and clumsy stuff we played either side of Christmas changed all of that. Your point about young players wanting to play for Swansea would work in reverse at Cardiff if we persisted in the hoofball of November to February.
    2. Again, I agree with you about the Trust, but I fear that it will take a crisis of the type we faced ten years ago under Sam Hammam for the number of members to increase at Cardiff – in fact, there is downright hostility towards the Trust in some quarters among the fanbase.
    3. Although there have been rumours about cutbacks in the youth budget, I’ve can’t say there has been any concrete proof that this is actually happening. The problem we have in my opinion is that when a place becomes available in the senior team, the attitude is “let’s go spend another few hundred thousand/millions on someone” rather than giving a kid from the Under 21s or Academy a chance. We’ve just finished a season where, for it’s last two months, we had no chance of going up and we were never going to go down, for me this represented an ideal opportunity to give a few youngsters a taste of first team football to see how they fared – it just didn’t happen.
    4. Our defender Ben Turner has been having his say on Russell Slade today
    Turner is always very good value when he’s interviewed and he’s had one or two things to say about those mercenaries you mention – I’m not convinced by Slade I’m afraid, but I think Ben is right when he says that we now have a group of players who are willing to play for the manager.
    Once again, thanks for your contribution and it would be great to hear from you again.

  8. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Good to hear from you Huw. I think I know you, I used to work in the microfiche library in Companies House in the mid 80s with a Huw Perry who supported the City – if you are who I think you are, then we are of around the same vintage, but I think I’ll be qualifying for my free bus pass slightly before you do!
    You’ve hit on the thing that concerns me about our current economy kick. Although I don’t think there would be many City fans who would argue against the notion that it’s not before time that we started to look at trying to live within our means, the amount Vincent Tan is owed is enormous by the standards of the Championship. If it is true that we have slashed £12 million off the wage bill in recent months, that’s still only a drop in the ocean when you consider the overall debt figure and, although there a few more big earners who could leave in the summer to increase that £12 million figure to something like double that, once those players have gone, the savings we can make by such methods will fall considerably unless we start paying League One or Two type wages and that’s where we’ll undoubtedly end up if we do – what chance Vincent Tan ever getting his money back if that happens?
    Thanks for the compliments you pay me and I look forward to hearing from you again on here.

  9. Dai Woosnam says:

    Your comments in your main piece above, Paul, are as ever well reasoned and just as fittingly well expressed.

    But I write here re your comment above of 12.19 today, and your point #4 viz. Ben Turner’s words on Russell Slade.

    That got me going back through the portals of Wales Online …a site I took out of my bookmarks 2 months ago, on the grounds that I felt dirty after reading all the poisonous bile from the 12 year old keyboard warriors who reign supreme in the COMMENTS section there.

    But that’s for another day.

    What I want to say is that Ben Turner’s words have for once drawn some reasoned responses (vis-a-vis RS) from the readers.

    I have just posted this in the name of my alter ego (they somehow excluded me some years ago signing in with my own name and e-address: thus making me use a nom de plume…something I generally despise, feeling that EVERYONE should have the guts to stand behind their own words).

    Some excellent contributions . Particularly liked the Tourette’s line of JJ’s, and Groundiggy’s zeroing-in on the poisonous negativity of the SLADE OUT brigade (who were “TAN OUT” until they themselves got bored with their own patent nonsense). And Ian Williams is RIGHT “on the money” when he pinpoints the fact there is less negativity AWAY from CCS.
    So that said…
    Are we claiming Russell Slade is an Eddie Howe? Or cut from the same cloth as a Brian Clough?
    No of course not: he is a million miles removed.
    But he is ten times the manager the Smiling Assassin was, and we should be thankful for that.
    With Russell Slade as boss, we have a club led by a man of INTEGRITY.
    And I think he has done a decent job in steadying a boat that was rocking violently after the two previous managers had let the club down rather badly. OGS was a dreadful appointment that Mr Tan and his board should be ashamed of making. Why? Well because anyone with any nous could have told them that winning the NORWEGIAN LEAGUE two years running, is about as meaningful as winning the League of Wales or League of Ireland. Like in Wales and Ireland, nearly all the good Norwegian players play in leagues outside that country.
    And in the case of MM, what had happened was particularly sad, given the great impression he initially made and the goodwill we all extended him.
    So Jonathan Jones, Ian Williams and Groundiggy are right. Can all the trolls give it a rest now, and get behind the team for once?
    I salute Russell Slade for withstanding this concentrated abuse. Call people a derogatory name – as the Nazis sussed out years ago – and it will quickly stick.
    And certainly, the name “Coco” HAS stuck with me.
    It has stuck in my CRAW.
    And I tell you this: the people who use it on this site, are actually describing THEMSELVES.
    Call themselves “supporters”?
    They support Cardiff City like a noose supports a hanged man.


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