I was watching the “In the City” video magazine that the club put together every week yesterday and the feature on Vincent Tan’s Thanks a Million initiative in which our largest shareholder gave away a seven figure sum to local charities only reinforced my point from a piece I did on here earlier in the week about Mr Tan – he so nearly is a living example of a “if Carlsberg did” football club owner. Whatever you may think of the man, this was a magnificent gesture and should be recognised as such rather than cynically rubbished as a small minority have chosen to do.
However, if anything , the thing that caught my attention on In the City more was the group of young children (I wouldn’t have put them as more than ten years old) who were filmed singing Do the Malky. The thing that struck me as I watched it was that club employees would have had to have spent a lot of time and covered a lot of distance fifteen to twenty years ago before they would have found a group of kids of a similar age to come to the ground and sing the praises of the club. Cardiff City effectively lost a generation of supporters in the last two decades of the twentieth century, but it’s great to see the level of youngsters who are now proud rather than embarrassed to say they support their local club as high as I can remember it in my time supporting them.
Thinking about it, the only era which may challenge that claim was the one when I was becoming besotted with the club as a boy just into my teens (i.e. 1969 to 1971). In those days, you’d go into school on a Monday and it seemed about three quarters of the classmates you talked to mentioned the City game on the weekend – some of them would support other clubs, but they also wanted us to do well (there was none of the piss taking for being a City fan that I began to experience in my last years in school from 1972 to 74). Not only that, a good proportion of them would be there at Ninian Park when we played and there’d often be a few girls from our year in the old boys enclosure at the front of the Grange End with us as well – it was quite cool to be a Cardiff fan back in those days.
I probably haven’t been considered even remotely cool for decades, but I’d like to think that we are now back in a time when being a City fan of a certain age qualifies you to have that adjective applied to you and if I’m right, then that’s one of the most pleasing things about our recent history.
Now of course, there are times when the boisterousness of youth becomes hard to take for adults – I have my fair share of “old git” moments and, occasionally, I have a whinge about the antics of our new generation of young supporters. However, for the majority of the time I’m content in the knowledge that this season I will be watching two things I’d given up on seeing in my lifetime back in the nineties – Cardiff City playing top flight football and a new generation of supporters coming through which will ensure that, even if things go badly, there will be a nucleus of support for the club when I, and the thousands of regulars at Cardiff City Stadium from the baby boomer generation and the one which followed it are no longer around.
If you go by what you read on the messageboards, not everyone is so happy to see more youngsters at City matches – you’ve only got to look at the re-branding controversy to see the proof of that. It’s not one side that has a go either – the blue side says it’s mostly kids who wear red shirts to games, while the reds maintain that almost all of those who will take part in the Bluebirds Unite march before the Man City game next weekend are youngsters who have never experienced bad times with Cardiff City.
The evidence of my own eyes tells me this is arrant nonsense on both sides – of course, these aren’t the views of everyone involved in the frequent arguments concerning the re-branding that still crop up, but significant numbers do feel this way. What they don’t grasp is that we are now entering a period in the club’s history where any advantages they might have earned through watching City play for longer counts for nothing. Take me for example, fifty years of watching Cardiff play and yet my experience of watching us in the top flight is exactly the same as the toddler of one who was taken to the Charlton game by their parents for the first time to see us win promotion!
Given the enormous changes top flight football has seen since 1962, it could even be argued that those who saw us play in the old First Division back in the fifties and early sixties have no real experience of what we are in for over the next nine months . “We are all in this together” is a phrase which has become almost notorious in another facet of life, but, in so far as knowing what the next nine months holds, it could equally be applied to Cardiff City fans of all ages. No one’s opinion is more valid than anyone else’s – no, change that, it might well be true to say that a fifteen year old who is as much of a statto as I was at that age is better informed about modern top division football than an old soak like me who thinks he knows it all!
Anyway, enjoy the new season – I certainly intend to no matter how it works out. My main wish for the club is that we are still in the Premier League this time next year with no significant debts after a conversion to equity by Vincent Tan (I’ll keep quiet about the kit for now!), but off the field, I’d like to see more tolerance shown to an opposing point of view expressed by fellow City fans and an acceptance from a few miserable old sods that the new and vibrant generation of City fans we now have is a good not a bad thing.
* picture courtesy of http://www.barryanddistrictnews.co.uk/