Time to eat a slice of humble pie as City stun Leeds.

One game shouldn’t be enough to convince anyone that views they expressed beforehand were completely and utterly wrong, but, by the same token, it can be enough to get you thinking that maybe things aren’t quite as good or bad as you thought they might be – that’s how I feel after Cardiff City’s very impressive 4-1 win over Leeds United at Elland Road yesterday.

I’ll come to the personnel involved in what was a very busy final day of the January transfer window shortly, but by Thursday morning, I was feeling pretty underwhelmed about how things had turned out for us and made this clear in a couple of messageboard posts – I claimed in one that we were fast becoming a footballer free zone.

I thought that was quite a neat line which summed up my concerns about the manner of some of our recent performances compared to what we had seen in the first year of Neil Warnock’s tenure as City manager where I had been surprised by how often I had enjoyed watching us play under someone who I had not been a big fan of previously.

I made my comments before it had been confirmed that we had signed left back Armand Traore in a deal that was initially reported as a permanent signing after Nottingham Forest had cancelled his contract, but we are now told that it is a loan deal until the end of the season. In a way, this signing made me a bit less critical of the direction we were heading because, although Traore played for Neil Warnock at QPR, as someone who I would describe as quick, talented, a bit flakey and capable of the odd defensive howler, he doesn’t really fit into the “typical Warnock signing” category that I had been applying, in a none too complimentary manner, to most of our recent signings.

At the time I expressed my frustration, all of our recent signings had, with one exception, all been more noticeable for their height, power, strength and, in Yanic Wildschut’s case, pace than their innate footballing ability.

Actually, I daresay that last paragraph is one that may not stand up to intense scrutiny, but it does illustrate my fear that we were becoming a “typical Warnock team” – having watched our first year with the man in charge, I don’t believe that this need be the totally negative description that it is generally perceived to be, but I was concerned that we were headed that way in his second year at the helm.

Certainly, my first reaction to the signing of Bolton striker Gary Madine was a negative one for a few reasons. Firstly, although there is some dispute as to whether we did pay the widely reported £5 million, I think it’s safe to say we have paid our biggest transfer fee for some time for him and that still seems an awful lot of money to pay for someone who has played the large majority of his football in the lower divisions to me.

With seventeen games still to play, Junior Hoilett has got into double figures as a goalscorer for a season for the first time in his career. Yesterday’s effort was probably the simplest of the ten so far, but it was a reward for a display that was on a par with the eye catching ones he was coming up with in August.*

Secondly, although I generally agree with the view that everyone deserves the chance to just get on with their lives as “normally” as they can after serving a jail term, I find it impossible to ignore the fact that Madine was sent to prison for eighteen months in October 2013 after being found guilty of causing actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm in two separate attacks (he was released after serving five months) – Wikipedia also reports that he “has been convicted of several assaults”.

Thirdly, with a scoring rate of around one goal every four appearances over a long career spent mostly at levels lower than the one he is currently playing at, Madine would hardly appear likely to be a prolific marksman at a club that has not had someone who has come close to matching that description for getting on for a decade now.

However, a bit more research on our new striker suggests there is more to him than first meets the eye. For a start, although Bolton have been thought of as relegation probables for most of the season so the stat isn’t quite as impressive as it would be if applied to a player at, say, Derby County, the fact is that the Trotters 1-0 win over Bristol City on Friday night was the first time they had won a match without Madine in their side in twenty two months! That still pretty amazing statistic tends to confirm the view expressed by a lot of Bolton supporters that Madine was “the main man” at the club and was instrumental to the way they played.

It’s also worth recording that, for all Madine’s apparent problems when it comes to keeping his discipline off the pitch, this is not reflected in his record on it – this site shows that he has only been red carded once in his ten year career in the game.

I can also recall seeing him play for Carlisle a long time ago in a televised game where I was struck by how good he was on the deck for a lower division target man type striker, so I made a note of his name as someone who I could be watching play at a much higher level in years to come – it will have taken him a long time to get there, but maybe Madine can still make it to the Premier League?

So, after a couple of days of further reflection, maybe Madine is a better signing than I first thought he was, but I’m afraid I’ve seen too much of Jamie Ward fouling people and starting arguments while also coming up with the occasional moment of good football to be enthused by his arrival, also from Forest, on another loan deal until the end of the season.

I say that while acknowledging that for most of his career Ward (who fails the must be six foot plus criteria that seemed to be becoming a requirement for new Cardiff players lately) has been able to be a regular selection at clubs that have tended to be top half Championship teams. At thirty one though and having missed a good bit of this season with injury, there has to be some doubt as to whether he will be as effective for us as he has been for others down the years.

Not surprisingly, Neil Warnock said on signing him that he had always really liked Ward’s spikey attitude and it was hard not to make a comparison with the player who headed to Nottingham as the other half of a loan exchange deal, Lee Tomlin.

It’s been obvious for months that Neil Warnock was not convinced by the man who he had paid his biggest fee for before Gary Madine’s arrival, but even our manager acknowledged that Tomlin was the most naturally talented footballer at the club.

Maybe a reunion with his Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka will see a repeat of the sort of performances the Spaniard was able to persuade from Tomlin while he was on Teeside, but, for now, Neil Warnock joins Eddie Howe and Lee Johnson in being unable to get the best out of someone whose career appears to be on the slide without ever really hitting the heights that someone with his ability should attain.

Tomlin’s departure was certainly a factor in me using that footballer free zone line, but, in truth, I had given up on him really because I thought he had become an example of what I see as one of the biggest truisms in football – you can have all of the ability in the world, but it won’t take you too far if your attitude is wrong.

Other City fans thought differently though and cited the inability to blend Tomlin into the team as evidence of a manager who places flair and technique low down on his list of priorities when considering midfield and/or attacking players. As shown already, I have some sympathy with that argument, but I don’t believe that using how Tomlin has been treated at Cardiff is an effective way to go about proving it – I happen to back our manager in this instance.

Tomlin joined Lee Camp and Omar Bogle in leaving City, temporarily at least, on Wednesday – Camp, who was reckoned by most to have been signed to be our first choice keeper this season. left for Sunderland until the end of the season without having played any senior games for us yet and looked to be at fault for the second goal in yet another damaging home defeat for the Wearsiders against Ipswich. Bogle, who I thought had made a good start to his City career with three decent goals in his relatively few first team appearances left with our manager talking about other disappointments with the player besides his costly sending off at Bristol City in November.

As far as yesterday’s game went, it served as a reminder to some like me that, while I still believe we are light for a promotion challenging team when it comes to things like flair, creativity and unorthodoxy, there are a lot of things we are good at. For example, we are the sort of side that will gobble up Championship teams that are something of a soft touch because we will have too much strength, power, know how and resilience for them.

To be frank, Leeds were a soft touch when they came down here as league leaders in September and were taken apart to the tune of 3-1 and it was the same again yesterday. Leeds must be sick and tired of us beating them so consistently over a period that stretches back nearly thirty five years now, but, generally speaking, our wins have tended to be close affairs usually decided by a single goal margin – not so in 2017/18 though as our 7-2 aggregate win was probably a fair reflection of the gap between the two sides over the pair of games.

Leeds fans will point to the fact that they have had to play for more than half of both games with ten men as Gaetano Berardi followed Liam Cooper’s example at Cardiff City Stadium by being dismissed before half time for two bookings. However, City were 2-0 up in both matches at the time of the red cards, so, in many ways, the game was as good as over already.

Goals might not have been as easy to come by this season as they were last for Sean Morrison, but he was able to repeat his achievement in the 2-0 City win at Elland Road twelve months ago when he netted for the second time this campaign.*

Just as in what I still believe to be our best win of the season, at Wolves, we were at our opponents right from the start and were in front in the first ten minutes, when Leeds only half cleared a Joe Ralls corner and Traore was able to float a lovely cross over at the second attempt that was headed in on the far post by Callum Paterson.

Mention of Paterson brings us back to Tomlin because he embodies the position that has become known as the “number ten” in the modern game. The archetypal number ten is not very tall, highly skillful, creative, has good vision and should, ideally, get ten plus goals in a season – Tomlin at his best could fit that criteria and there are still those who believe that he would have been that player for us if he had been given a chance.

Instead, the closest thing we have to a number ten currently is someone who is gangly, arguably better with his head than he is with his feet and has won all of his international caps as a full back and, my earlier comments about the lack of flair in our team aside, I believe he is proving to be more effective in the role than Tomlin ever was.

Paterson may not look and play like a classic number ten, but he is mobile, powerful, a better passer than he is given credit for, can tackle and is a very decent finisher. Besides his goal yesterday (to go with the two he scored from the number ten position against Sunderland), he provided the assists for our second and fourth goals and was narrowly wide with a fierce shot from twenty five yards in the second half – he may not look the part, but looks aren’t everything.

Leeds responded to going a goal down by hitting the woodwork twice through centre forward Pierre-Michel Lasogga. Neil Etheridge produced a fine save to turn the German’s low twenty five yard drive onto an upright, but was helpless when a far post cross headed from point blank range crashed against the crossbar, only for him to then produce a brilliant stop from Ezgjan Alioski’s follow up effort.

However, City turned the screw in what was a disastrous few minutes before half time for the home team as, besides losing Berardi, influential defender Pontus Jansson was carried off, Junior Hoilett tapped in our second on the far post from what I’ll charitably call a Paterson pass and Sean Morrison nodded in the winger’s free kick following the foul which led to the red card.

City were rugged, strong, mobile, quick and streetwise in the first half as they showed the qualities which they are normally judged by, but no side that has Hoilett playing to the form he showed earlier in the season are going to be completely lacking in the flair and creativity departments and there was more to us than the more prosaic elements that make up a “typical Warnock team”.

For me though, the most pleasing aspect of yesterday’s win was to hear and see the word “composure” being applied to a City performance. I’ve seen it used to describe our general play and also to describe Marko Grujic’s contribution as, at the third attempt, he began to look at home in our side.

Five years ago, one of the main qualities which led to our promotion was the composure the team showed in the way they saw out matches they were winning by 1-0 or 2-1 and I remarked after the Hull win in December that the way we never looked like losing the lead given to us by Sol Bamba reminded me of our Championship winners.

However, maybe more than anything else, composure was what we were lacking during our awful holiday period and in some of our games in the new year – what a difference a bit of composure would have made in the woeful defeat to a poor Preston team just after Christmas!

Mind you, we lost our composure for a while yesterday as, just as in Cardiff four months earlier, Leeds made a better fist of things with ten men than they had done with eleven and, in a strong opening fifteen minutes to the second half for the home team, Bamba turned a cross into his own net. Leeds had left themselves too much to do though and the storm was ridden out to the extent that the home fans had long since become resigned to their fate when sub Anthony Pilkington scored easily on the far post from a Paterson cross in the eighty eighth minute.

So, while I daresay we’ll continue to be a little too much more artisan than artist than some of us might like, seven points from a possible nine since losing for the fourth successive time at QPR on New Year’s Day suggests we are over our rough patch and, as the season enters its final third, the signs are that we’ll be there scrapping for a top six place, at least, right until the bitter end of a season that has worked out better than most of us could dare hope it would.

*pictures courtesy of https://www.walesonline.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17 Responses to Time to eat a slice of humble pie as City stun Leeds.

  1. Colin Phillips says:

    Thanks, Paul.

    Can we play Leeds every week?

    Colin

  2. Russell says:

    Thanks Paul once again very grateful for your insight and reviews . I do detect from you (exuse me if I’m wrong ) a desire to see a City team in a purer football sense playing with greater flair and movement , which perhaps Warnock’ s old skool approach may never really attain , he does however like his wingers ( imagine what he would do with a Willie Anderson or Dave Bennett, onto a Clarky / Tosh ).

    I’ve have long thought that to get out of this you need the nutters with skill and power , over the years we have lacked those charecters , now we have a few in Madine , Bamba, Patterson and they form a direct straight line down the spine of the team .
    Hoilet is a pure skill class act when he’s on his game as he was yesterday , Zohore has very silky skills and can score spectacular goals just needs his confidence back and his head turned back into focus.
    Outside of the Man City game we have rattled in eleven goals I think ?? Which perhaps suggests we have flair as well as power ,however those wins albeit confidence boosters were against poor performing sides .
    I think our win yesterday was also a backlash to the Man City billionaire club loss, imagine the relief players like Ralls and Patterson felt not chasing shadows and feeling second bit part players as they were against the manufactured eleven the faced last week , up against equal players we punched our weight and will do so again , opefully squeezing ourselves into tge pkay offs , and hey ill bet a Warnock motivated side against anyone .

    I do think we have done some tidy business in the transfer market , Ward will be used as a wind up merchant when things are not going well , Madjbevwill bully and create more for others than score , the Norwich lad runs very directly , the Liverpool lad we know is class and will grow into the role, Trarore is a classy short term player ,and when on form better than most in our side .

    So I’m now more hopeful than I was 4 week ago dreading a positive result for Sunderland which would have in my view destroyed our season .

    Lastly Paul your attention to detail and football matters is impressive , I note your comment regarding Madine playing for Carlise as one such example, I hope the new fresh aireness of Treherbert enthuses you to greater enlightenment, let’s hope your move goes well.

  3. Jeff Blight says:

    Thanks for another insightful summary Paul, very enjoyable.

    Congratulations on calling the potential loan moves for Bogle and Tomlin a week before it happened, obviously ITK, stand aside AA. Both players have a reputation for being difficult and Warnock obviously has had enough, which tells us armchair managers everything we need to know.

    Paterson is improving game by game in his new unaccustomed position, offers a goal threat and great energy and will become a fans favourite just as he was up in Edinburgh.

  4. BJA says:

    Good morning Paul and others.
    Sitting at home, watching our demolition of Scotland with the oval ball, listening but
    with occasional glances at Gillette Soccer Special on my I Pad, and a good glass of red wine in hand, as the afternoon progressed I felt I must have been in dreamland. But no – this really was all taking place. Does it get any better?
    Whilst results from elsewhere meant that we had made no progress on recapturing second spot, we have gone some way to cementing a play off place at the very least as you suggest.
    But as I have mentioned previously, and I suspect will continue to do so, our discipline is awful. Twenty fouls and four yellow cards. I fear we have a couple or more “reds” coming our way if we continue to commit indiscretions as currently.
    Watching the highlights on Channel 5, I was conscious that all of our goals were from close range, but players have to be in these areas to seize opportunities as they are presented. But I long for the spectacular strikes that Mendez-Laing and Zahore gave us earlier – the wow factor. This is not intended to be a complaint, just an observation – but I do like a bit of “wow”.
    Interesting that our newly arrived Norwich winger was replaced by our permanent former Norwich winger. Glad he stayed. Interesting too that our three that went out on loan all finished on the losing side with Tomlin not over impressing when he came on as substitute.
    Also delighted that Grujic had a good performance even if he was a little rash at times. He is someone that needs an arm around him to remind him of his talents as he has shown some classy moments with the ball at his feet.
    So next we are off to the “Lions'” Den. To come away from there will be an achievement. More red wine awaits.

  5. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    A sublime read Paul, as ever. Thanks for your impeccable sentences and tacit classy dismissal of sensationalist forms of expression that call upon asterisks, otiose exclamation marks, constant parentheses, and rash-like ellipsis (as I always d
    sadly demonstrate…!!)

    Indeed Paul, such is my admiration for your literary style, that I play “spot the mistake” and very rarely if ever spot a typo or spelling error. Maybe one in ten reports*, that is all. And anyway, spelling is a fifth rate art, and within two decades will be replaced by txtspk.

    Loved your words on Gary Madine
    This is a link I sent some MAYA readers a few days ago…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-24398799

    I tell you something…
    Were I in that dressing room, I would be fearful of happening to catch his eye. I can hear him now…”Why are YOU staring at ME…?”

    And no frank postmortems after losing a game where players are encouraged to point out to teammates where they could have done more..!! Not with big Gary around.

    Ah it is all part of the rich fabric of life, eh?

    Back to your report.

    My eye was taken by this…
    ‘…
    the fact is that the Trotters 1-0 win over Bristol City on Friday night was the first time they had won a match without Madine in their side in twenty two months! That pretty amazing statistic
    …’

    Eh? Thinking about this got me a bit dizzy.

    Madine only signed for the Trotters at the start of the 2015 season. So he has been playing for them 30 months maximum. And in that time he made 92 appearances.

    Now that does not make him an ever-present, but it doesn’t make him far off…
    So, I figure that if he has played most of the time, and it has been 22 months since they won without him in the team, it can only be a significant statistic if they were winning all their games with him in the team…!! But they ain’t.
    They lose most of them whether he is playing, or not…!! ???

    Am I a real dunce here, Paul…? Please tell me what I am missing about what you call “that pretty amazing statistic”. Perhaps my brain is locked in second gear, and I cannot get it up to speed.

    As for the game, yes it was great to see Paterson (oh dear Chris Wathan, you will spell it right eventually…!!) finally resemble the Superman I wrote to you about, the day we signed him.

    I predict he will be club captain within 18 months.

    Nice to Etheridge again show his class. Looking how desperately poor the Bolton keeper was against The Wurzels on Friday, makes me realise we are blessed with this boy, and I agree with you that Neil Warnock was right to loan out his original first choice for goalkeeper, Lee Camp.

    That superb headed goal from Morrison makes me lament the fact that he was not made a centre forward as a youth by his then team coach. Yes of course we must prosecute youth team coaches who were sex offenders, but I lament the fact that we cannot also prosecute dunderhead coaches who thwarted a stellar career by telling a kid he should play in the wrong area of the park.

    Yes, Morrison has made a handsome living in his years in pro fottball, no doubt. But folks…he could have been the next Tommy Lawton.

    Finally a word on Zohore. You rightly mention his confidence is shot. I shoukd coco.

    Did you notice that Pilkington’s tap-in saved Zohore massive embarrassment…?

    It had arrived at his feet from SuperCall, and he air-kicked it from six yards out. Lucky that Pilks was behind him. A miss to almost match that of Raheem Sterling’s yesterday.

    Don’t get me started on him…!! I have a theory that he is the secret love child of Mr Guardiola. How he stays in the team and is worth £49 million, …well, it just stuns me.

    * today was the “one in ten” day.
    I spot that you have Teesside spelt wrong. No shame in that, as most of us cannot spell it.

  6. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Oops…I forgot to add re Gary Madine and Bolton, that they had been losing game after game THIS season…only stopping the rot just before Christmas, when they put us to the sword.
    Last season was obviously a successful one in Division 1, but the season before (his first season) was a nightmare season of defeats, ending in relegation.
    So the question we must ask that Bolton statistician is “every win in the ladt 22 months has been with him in the team, and thus could one almost say the same for every DEFEAT too…?!

  7. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Gee …two typos from me in my last two postings above. Suitably red faced. Apols.

    So to make up for it and give you Paul and your MAYA boys some light relief, try this wonderful 19 minute YouTube film on for size. There is no reference to the Bluebirds in it, and is not aimed at the round ball game. So it is an indulgence from me, that I know is strictly-speaking “off topic”.

    But it is a film that will raise a smile with most of us, because it is steeped in our local South Walian humour and sporting culture.

    It is a hit and miss mockumentary, in the tradition of similarly OTT longer efforts, like GRAND SLAM.

    It has only just been released, and contains a handful of very decent “one liners”…

    And Steve Speirs dazzles as Wynne Griffiths and Kimberley Nixon provides the perfect understated droll partner.

    And the world’s most famous rugby referee Nigel Owens, keeps his end up pretty well.

    https://youtu.be/GipP58S6JV0

  8. Lindsay Davies says:

    Thanks, Paul. A report that’s up there with your best. So instructive for an exile like me.
    Humble pie being served up here – I was SO disenchanted with the perf v. Man City. Doesn’t matter how good MCFC appeared to be – and I, for one, don’t think they were at their best – we didn’t show up.
    Well, at Leeds, we did – in spades.
    What with that, the oval ball win, and Rambo’s hat-trick, it was a helluva of a weekend.

  9. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Colin, I’m 62 today, so I think I qualify now to say things like beating Leeds (a club I’ve always despised during my time following the game) always makes an old man very happy!
    Yes Russell, I’d like to a bit more style from us. I’ve always thought that getting the balance right between flair players and “water carriers” is one of the toughest tasks facing any manager/coach as it’s easy to go that bit too far either way.
    Jeff, I think you might be right about Paterson – as for Tomlin, Bogle and being in the know, I think I’ll retire while I’m in front!
    BJA, I reckon Joe Ralls’ goal against Sunderland was a bit special, as was Zohore’s against Fulham. As for all of our fouls, I make it ninety five in our last five games – I agree with you that we cannot continue with figures like that and not start picking more red cards along the way.
    Dai, regarding Madine, you are right to point put that, when it comes to the Championship, Bolton have lost far more than they have won over the past twenty two months, but I’ve been looking into what happened last season with them and I think these figures tell you so much about his importance to his old club;-
    Bolton’s record with Madine 16/17
    P 36 W 25 D 6 L 5 F 67 A 28 Pts 81
    Without Madine 16/17
    P 10 W 0 D 5 L 5 F 2 A 9 Pts 5
    Rather than the miserable five points gained when Madine wasn’t there, what really stands out for me is that Bolton were scoring at the rate of close to two a game when he was there and once every five matches when he wasn’t! Yes, it’s a lower standard than we play at, but I still say those figures are staggering and show the extent to which his old team (a promotion side let’s not forget) were reliant on him. None of this proves he will be a success here of course and I repeat that I believe that there is nothing in his career over the past ten years to justify the sort of fee we appear to have paid for him, but those figures point to him being one of the most influential players at the level below us last season and the history of the game is dotted with late developers whose last few years in the game completely contradicts what they had done before.
    It was a good weekend Lindsay – must say it’s a long time since I’ve enjoyed watching the Welsh rugby team as much as that.

  10. BJA says:

    Paul – Happy Birthday – I’m sure it is all the better following Saturday’s performance.

  11. Colin Phillips says:

    Birthday greetings, Paul.

    Thought, by your knowledge of games from the sixties and seventies, you would have been nearer my age, which is 13 more than yours sadly.

  12. Adrian Lloyd Pickrell says:

    Happy Birthday Paul !!! and thanks a Million for your great reports and blog.
    In the not too distant past City were boring everyone to death and not scoring goals. Then we had an uncanny phase of conceding in the last minutes. So despite the imperfections and criticisms I am thoroughly enjoying the goalscoring going on at the moment.
    Have a great day Paul!

  13. russell roberts says:

    Happy Birthday Paul , lets hope City top your week off on Friday with a win

  14. Richard Holt says:

    Happy Birthday Paul.
    Thanks as ever for your match reports and blog. Us readers are very lucky football supporters to have such insightful perspectives on our team.

  15. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Paul, our dear young Leader of the MAYA band of brothers,
    I hope I am in time to wish you a happy 62nd birthday…there are three hours left in Feb 5th as I write.

    I note you share it with the great Neymar Jr.
    Just the player for you.
    Imagine if you shared it with Skinner Normanton…!!

  16. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thank you to those of you who wished me a happy birthday. Dai, I looked it up and Skinner Normanton is a fellow Aquarian – actually, that’s a lie, he was born on August 26! Anyway, you and the others may enjoy this;-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFTT7NRQdV8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1uxny-C-6o

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHMNfwdk9qw

  17. HarryKirtley'sGhost says:

    Those three YouTube links Paul to that Yorkshire TV doc were immensely enjoyable.
    It was quite absorbing …I had never heard Skinner interviewed before…!!

    Above all, the film made me lament the loss of Danny Blanchflower. What a player he was, and what a marvellously articulate man. And how sad that Alzheimer’s should claim him and take his life so young. Why does Alzheimer’s so often afflict the most gifted and well-stocked of brains?

    Blanchflower you know had his start as a TV presenter with the BBC in Cardiff presenting a weekly sports programme when you were a kid of about 6 or 7. He was brilliant at it. Doing I suppose what Gabby Logan does so well in her Premier League weekly programme today.

    After a year or so, (I think he was still playing foitball at the time…!!) whether the weekly travelling to Cardiff got the better of him, I know not, but he resigned and that great irascible charecter Wilfred Wooler replaced him.

    Now Wilf had lots of qualities and could be very generous – as he once was with his time when I rang him at his home in Cyncoed one night to ask him for information regarding something I was writing for The New Welsh Review – but one thing he was not: and that is a NATURAL when it came to “talking into a camera”.
    His performances alas were wooden. And he was quickly replaced by a presenter/interviewer blessed with easy charm and who had not so much KISSED the Blarney Stone…as SWALLOWED it.

    And that was the start in television of the quite magnificent Cliff Morgan….a boy from Trebanog, in my home town of Porth. Gee …Cliff and the great Gwyn Thomas from just a mile apart…!! There must be something in the air there…pity I could not catch it…!!

    Thanks again Paul, for your flagging up of that YouTube delight. And it proved to me that it was not my nostalgia getting the better of me. Football really was better then …albeit though pitches seemed like ploughed fields compared to the carpets of today.

    So sincere thanks to you for the gift.

    Can I offer you one in return? I fully realise that MAYA is not a jukebox for us to play our favourite clips…but offer you this in the same spirit as you offered yours. And take it as a belated birthday gift and accept that it is simply an act of reciprocation…and not the start of a slippery slope…!!

    It has just been released in the past week. It really is relevant to MAYA in that it taps into the humour and parlance of Bluebirds fans. So trust me, you and your readers will love this mini mockumentary, for the stellar performances from Steve Speirs and Kimberley Nixon. And some fine one liners. Just 18 minutes.

    https://youtu.be/GipP58S6JV0

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