Watching Cardiff City has become a pleasure again – well, almost!

Coymay

I know I keep banging on about 2014, but, in Cardiff City terms at least, 2015 is only ten days old and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s already contained more enjoyment than the Annus horribilis that was 2014 ever did.

Yes, one simple decision has turned supporting Cardiff City into a pleasure again for this fan and a perfect few days came to the conclusion it had to with a City triumph as yesterday’s 1-0 win over Fulham ended a run of five matches without a league victory and maintained our 100% winning record in 2015 - I’ll be very pleasantly surprised if I’m able to use that line again mind!

Before getting on to the game though, just a few words about the attendance and atmosphere yesterday. Regarding the attendance, some have expressed their disappointment at it and, to a degree, I understand where they are coming from, but I suppose a couple of things need to be said in mitigation. Firstly, with the return to blue only being officially confirmed on Friday afternoon, there wasn’t much time for non season ticket holders who weren’t planning to attend originally to make alternative arrangements (especially those living away from south Wales) and, secondly, whereas the 22,000+ announced attendance for the Watford game a fortnight ago was a complete joke, yesterday’s figure was a far more accurate one – I’m pretty sure all but a few season ticket holders were in attendance yesterday.

Similarly, there have been criticisms about the atmosphere. For me, it did flag a little at times, but it was miles better than anything I’ve experienced in a home match since the days when Malky Mackay was in charge and only the Wales v Bosnia match last autumn was an improvement on it during 2014.

For a while there was a real possibility that the game would not take place because  of damage caused to the ground through cladding that had come loose as a result of the strong winds in recent days. It would have been the irony of ironies  if it had been damage caused to Tan's Folly (sorry, I must stop calling it that now!) which had caused the postponement of the

For a while there was a real possibility that the game would not take place because of damage caused to the ground through cladding that had come loose as a result of the strong winds in recent days. It would have been the irony of all ironies if it had been damage caused to the red seated”Tan’s Folly” (I must stop calling it that now!) that caused the postponement of the “back to blue” match.*

As for the game, well the first thing for me was that City deserved the win and to any who were attending their first match in a while after a re-brand related boycott, I’d say yesterday was above average in terms of Cardiff home performances in 14/15. What made it so for me was that we saw some reaction from the players to the change in atmosphere – they responded positively to the support they were getting with an improved tenacity and team ethic.

The two players making their first appearances for the club could both be satisfied with their performances. Scott Malone did occasionally look like someone who was not too well acquainted with his new team mates, but, overall, he appeared at home at left back and looked to pass the ball constructively. Although I can remember Alex Revell giving Ben Turner and Sean Morrison more aerial problems than they normally encounter when he played for Rotherham last month, I’ll admit that he wasn’t a signing that I felt any great enthusiasm about, but his second half display after coming on for Kenwyne Jones showed all of the qualities that Russell Slade talked about in his pre match press conference – he kept on pressurising the Fulham defence when they were in possession, won more than his fair share of headers and showed good all round awareness for someone who had only had one days training at his new club.

There was also a first league appearance for goalkeeper Simon Moore (David Marshall has been linked with a couple of Premier League clubs recently, but Russell Slade said that his absence yesterday was down to an ankle injury) who generally reinforced the favourable impression he made last week in the FA Cup tie with Colchester. Truth be told though, apart from a dive at an opponent’s feet and a couple of caught crosses in the second period to go with an awkward low ball across his goal in the first period, which he dealt with comfortably, it was a pretty gentle introduction for Moore to Championship football and this takes me on to the “but” part of yesterday’s match.

City might have been worth their win, but they didn’t really have much to beat – for me, only Forest have been a poorer visiting team than Fulham this season. Up until recently, Fulham have tended to be a side who have scored plenty and let in more, but, as so often happens, a tightening up at the back brings about a decline in goalscoring and it’s now four matches since they last found the net. This was reflected in a lack of belief in attacking areas which enabled City to pick up one of their more comfortable clean sheets of the season so far. I’m sure that Fulham are a better side going forward than they showed yesterday, but I heard the word “lightweight” applied to them at half time and it summed the visitors up perfectly on the day.

A sight for sore eyes, the first Cardiff  City side to wear blue in a home match since 3 May 2012.+

A sight for sore eyes, the first Cardiff City side to wear blue in a home match since 3 May 2012.+

Now, at this stage, I think I should say that in any sporting contest between two fairly equally matched opponents, the winner is often decided as much by who best exploits the other’s weaknesses as it is by who is the more naturally talented of the two. Therefore, while I think we would all like to have seen us go out and put Fulham to the sword in style in a match where both sides were committed to playing the “beautiful game”, the people making the decisions on playing style believed, probably rightly, that our best chance of winning lay in us playing a set piece orientated game that relied greatly on us gaining superiority of the skies!

So, I think it’s only fair to mention that what I’m about to say is tempered slightly by that intention to exploit perceived weakness. However, in the first half of yesterday’s match I thought Russell Slade’s”back to basics” approach was as basic as it has got in his time at the club and that’s really saying something!

I can remember Nathan Blake calling for more entertaining football soon after Russell Slade was appointed. Being  a member of the “give everyone a fair chance” school, I thought it was very harsh of him to say that when our new manager had barely got his feet under the table so to speak, but I’ve got to admit now that Nathan had a point! That said, I’ve always been pretty pragmatic about a club’s “duty” to entertain – as much as I’ve heard former players (including Blakey) talk about City having a history of being a passing team, I’ve got to say that I’ve seen more Cardiff sides using a long ball percentage based approach than I have  a patient, possession based one.

Malky Mackay’s sides were often accused of playing “hoofball”, but in the first forty five minutes yesterday the reliance on set pieces for all of our attacking threat got so bad that I think one of our attacking players on the touchline might well have opted to blast the ball against an opponent to get a throw in or corner rather than try to play in an unmarked colleague in a central position ten yards from the Fulham goal!

A scruffy goal to decide a scruffy game - Aron Gunnarsson is thanked for his assist by scorer Sean Morrison.+

A scruffy goal to decide a scruffy game – Aron Gunnarsson is thanked for his assist by scorer Sean Morrison.+

After the Watford match, City dropped to the bottom of the Championship possession table and, with the BBC reporting that we only had 37% of the ball yesterday, I presume we are still there. In fact, as I watched the ball being wellied forward constantly yesterday, I found myself wondering if we really want to have the ball that much at all – are we happy as long as we can gain the occasional throw in/free kick in attacking areas and win a corner every now and again as well?

Possibly because we had a lead to defend and so were less willing to push captain Ben Turner and Morrison forward as much, we made less use of Aron Gunnarsson’s long throw after the break. Consequently, we played a little bit more football with a few quite nice passing movements creating half chances which were never accepted probably because the person they fell to had forgotten how to react to an opportunity presented by means other than a Gunnar throw in or Whittingham free kick or corner.

I feel there are two things that need to be said here. The first goes back to exploiting opponent’s perceived weaknesses and it’s that I’m struggling to remember a game this season (certainly under Russell Slade anyway) where our opponents supposed failings dictated that we try to beat them by outpassing them. Secondly, although I’ll admit to my patience being sorely tested lately, I believe most fans will accept their team winning while playing an unattractive brand of football, but as soon as it’s stops working then they’ll be quicker to turn against the manager responsible for this “basic” approach than they would if their side was losing, but playing a brand of football that was, for the most part, easy on the eye.

With some supporters against him from day one because of his lower league background, our manager is taking something of a risk by setting out his side to play in the manner it does and I have to admit it that he looks like someone who has come in and imposed “his way” on the side whether it was the approach best suited to the squad he inherited or not. Yet, I still maintain that I saw Leyton Orient playing effective, possession based counter attacking football at times last season – perhaps Russell Slade has concluded that we do not have the pace and/or the players capable of giving us the midfield control required to get us to play in the manner his old side did last season?

With the transfer window having been open for ten days, we’ve done well to get a couple of players in so far, but neither of them play in the area where I think most fans would say we have been weakest this season – in fact, I’m struggling to even think of any central midfielders we were linked with in the weeks leading up to the window opening. I cannot believe for one minute that our manager is content with what he has seen from us in the middle of the park for the last three months and so am hoping that he is going to surprise us with, preferably, two central midfield signings who will enable us to play in a less one dimensional manner than we are now.

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

+ pictures courtesy of http://www.walesonline.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

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18 Responses to Watching Cardiff City has become a pleasure again – well, almost!

  1. David williams says:

    Agree with everything that said we need we need midfield players that are comfortable on the ball like Daehli and Kim

  2. Anthony O'Brien says:

    The occasion was certainly better than the football yesterday, but I was very pleased with the two newcomers. Malone had a very encouraging game and at times, I thought, gave signs that he would at some time make a good captain or at least a defensive organiser. He was always positive in defence and managed to give good support to the attack on the left side (where a good left foot is always useful). Revell also did well, and his willingness to challenge in the air turned a few sliced clearances from the goalkeeper into useful opportunities even when the ball seemed on its way out of play on the Cardiff right. Apart from his kicking, the goalkeeper, too, did well on the few occasions he was called into action, especially when taking crosses with sure confidence. But, as we all acknowledge, the big problem remains in midfield. Too many loose balls went to Fulham in that area, and we still lack someone who can pick a killer pass. In previous games neither Daehli nor Kim have appealed to me in that respect. Dasehli, with his low centre of gravity, could twist and turn but without a genuine end-product. Kim tends to slow up the play and generally to pass sideways, always provided his left foot is pointing in that direction. Furthermore, he falls over too easily. Neither of them have the football brain of, say, Pilkington. To repeat, we are crying out for a destructive/constructive midfielder. Let’s hope that someone suitable is on Russell Slade’s radar – and fast!.

  3. Haydn John says:

    Why is Adam Le Fondre still first choice up front? He has done absolutely nothing and has the worse forward stats in the whole of this division. Complete waste of money.

  4. rhondda blue says:

    I hear what your saying Haydn, but la fondre will never score goals for us in the way rusty sets us up, he plays out of position, and we don’t have the midfield players feeding him the ball in the right area’s, like the penalty area. another poor long ball hit and hope game yesterday. the best part about yesterday was we played in blue and the fans made more noise. if this is going to be rusty’s style of play it’s going to be painful watching, just hope we are in the running for some dynamic hard working midfielders with pace, over to you rusty.

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Paul,
    Tell Graham not to worry…I have not had a change of mind and am not returning with my out-of-date thinking!
    True, when Mr Tan made his magnificently magnanimous decision, I did think for a nanosecond that maybe the rabble element of the Blue Forever brigade would recognise it as such…but of course they didn’t and immediately interpreted it as a nakedly commercial act.
    As I predicted, these characters would not know “magnanimity” if they tripped over it.
    And what convinced me that I am right in continuing to lie down in a darkened room with a cold compress on my head, was waking momentarily the other night and MOTD was on the telly.
    I saw the Hull fella pass back to his keeper from 5 yards, and thus give away a free kick just 10 yards out (which ended up in the net). And previously I had watched the Newcastle captain tamely stroke the ball out for a corner, which quickly became a goal, while he and half the rest of his team had their back turned and were fast asleep.
    In both cases the ball should have ended up in Row Z.
    And the problem lies with managers who encourage all this passing back and pussyfooting about.
    I despair of modern soccer!
    I am turning the lights off and going back to sleep.
    Before I do, I have to say that Cardiff should cash-in on Marshy …assuming Everton really ARE interested, and Andy really wants to go.
    The save that Simon Moore made just before halftime against Colchester, told me all I need to know about him.
    Kindest,
    Dai.

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    As ever, thanks for your replies.

    Interesting you mention Pilkington Anthony, overall I don’t think he has been that great for us, but he was just coming into form when he got injured and there has been an almost complete lack of guile in the team since he’s been out of the team.
    As for LeFondre, there was some good things about his performance on Saturday, but, based on what he’s shown in a Cardiff shirt so far, it’s hard to imagine how he has scored so many goals in his career – he’s been a big disappointment and I still can’t work out if his backpass to the keeper in the first half from what was a very good chance was meant to be a shot or a cross.
    Simon Moore impressed me when I saw him playing for Brentford Dai – I’m pretty confident that you are right about him.
    I can’t go into detail, but someone I know who tends to get these sort of things right, has told me we are closing in on the signing of a central midfield player, so it seems that the management can also see what almost every supporter does!

  7. Gareth Price says:

    Thanks for a great read Paul..I’ve been a fan since the early 60s when my dad took me to see Stanley Matthew’s Stoke team. Not always been to matches during that time but always been a fan and a season ticket holder for the last five years. I agree completely with your view of 2014 For me, even though part of it was spent in the premier league, it was the worst in my memory.2015 has started with such a brilliantly unexpected turnaround and the atmosphere back in the stadium. Isn’t it time to enjoy being able to support our team again and not expect too much on the field this year. A period of stability is desperately needed and Russell Slade needs to be given a chance in the right circumstances. As long as he doesn’t take us down and surely there’s enough quality in the squad to avoid that then we can build towards a promotion season next with or without RS.Meanwhile Mr Dahlman need to use his obvious influence with VT to try and sort out the issues of debt and equity and introducing some footballing expertise onto the board. When those things are in place then surely we’ll be in a position to kick on in our rightful strip and badge. For the first time since 2012 I’m looking forward to supporting my team however they’re playing. We’re used to them playing badly.We can take that. What was much harder to take was the loss of identity. Thankyou VT and your mother

  8. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Hello Gareth, good to hear from you. I agree with you about getting some football expertise on the Board, it’s been mentioned by others, but City need an identity in terms of the philosophy at the club regarding playing style, recruitment policy and how the jump from Development team to first team is managed – the change to blue is a great boost for everyone, but we still have plenty of issues that make it hard for Cardiff City to prosper.

  9. Dai Woosnam says:

    Hello Paul,

    Excuse me waking from my hibernation, but my alter ego has just posted this on WalesOnline (attaching it to an article they wrote on the mega sums Vincent has allowed his managers to spend):

    Hope you and your contributors are well.

    Kindest,
    Dai.
    ‘…

    A wonderful man with a wonderful mother.
    His tragedy lay in the daft decision to switch to red, coupled with putting his faith in 4 managers who were frankly FAR from top-drawer.
    These are the clowns who
    (a) Manager 1 – when they needed 1 point out of a remaining 12, still cannot get it, to clinch a place in the play-offs, and then has the brass neck to say a few months later “I don’t know what Cardiff fans are so critical about: we only missed the play-offs by a point”! A man who brought chutzpah to new levels.
    (b) Manager 2 – the bloke who got promotion playing sleep-inducing football, but then with his stock high, decided to try to shaft his owner. Big mistake. Vincent Tan was not born yesterday. And Tan payed hardball back…and it got dirty. Manager 2 incidentally, frittered away millions on a Danish nonentity, and vastly overpaid for the likes of Paul Abbandonato’s “colossus” aka Steven Caulker…currenly all over the shop in QPR’s hopeless defence.
    (c) Manager 3 – a smiling buffoon from Norway who could not think for himself …and bought all sorts of people who told him that
    they had hero-worshipped him…several Norwegians better employed as as fishermen, and underwhelming characters – because they had played for Man Utd RESERVES under him – like Macheda and Fabio. This same manager also endorsed his predecessor’s shameful feud with the excellent John Brayford, by loaning him out for the rest of the season, and that one decision alone probably sealed Cardiff’s relegation. And he too shared his predecessor’s lack of faith in Rudy Gestede…and hasn’t that knockdown price sale to Blackburn, proved disastrous?
    (d) And now he is on Manager 4. A decent chap who cannot believe his luck. One wishes him well, but one fears that there will be tears before bedtime.
    But the one person to come out of this with real honour is Mr Tan. He has had to put up with all sorts of racist abuse, and frankly even now, when he has shown such great magnanimity, all sorts of trolls write in to WalesOnline saying that it was a solely commercial decision to go back to blue.

    And some of these people should never get past the WalesOnline website’s moderator, as they make wholly libellous claims as to how he got his money.

    Smell the coffee folks! He is the greatest benefactor our club Cardiff City have ever had.

    And South Wales charities have cause to be grateful to him too.

    I would like him to be given The Freedom of Cardiff by the council. You don’t have to be a Cardiffian like Our Shirley to get it. The greatest statesman of my lifetime did.

    And if you say, “ah but Vincent Tan is hardly Nelson Mandela”, I will say of course he is not. But which guy did more for the premier city of Wales?

    …’

  10. Anthony O'Brien says:

    A much needed and exhilarating piece, Dai. Vincent Tan has been – and can be – the saviour of Cardiff City. Some of his decisions have aroused criticism, of course, especially the appointment of his son’s friend to a key post at Cardiff – though I think this was merely “a shot across the bows” from the owner, showing what he COULD do if he wanted to. Some of the abuse he received, as you imply, has had what can only be described as having racist overtones, and I wrote to Mr Tan to make this point some months ago. And let’s not forget that Mandela was dubbed a terrorist before he became a saint. Maybe the parallel is over the top, but I sincerely wish that the reputation of Mr Tan is rehabilitated in the same way as that of Mr Mandela – and all to the greater glory of Cardiff City.

  11. Dai Woosnam says:

    Well said Paul re the “Mandela being dubbed a terrorist” thing.

    Very sad news today about Danny Malloy: my alter ego has just posted this on to WalesOnline

    ‘…
    I saw every home game that Danny Malloy played, and a fair smattering of his away games too. Along with John Charles, Ivor Allchurch and Graham Moore, he was one of the only 4 TRULY GREAT players I saw in a City shirt…I was a bit too young to see Alf Sherwood, other than a couple of games.
    Best memory? Not the promotion game against Villa when he spoke from the grandstand to us kids who had spilled on to the pitch in delight. But that amazing game on 28 December 1957 when City were beating LIVERPOOL 5-0 at half time! We kids in the Boys’ Enclosure could not believe it. Nor could manager Trevor Morris as he warned City at half time that “we have not won the game yet!”
    And captain Danny famously replied “Och, but we are slight favourites though boss, eh?!”
    I remember how after every game, we would run after him for his autograph as he emerged into the car park. His big black car was always gleaming and some boys would put their sweaty fingerprints on it to get their balance, as they jostled for position to get his autograph. And Danny would always sign every one. But the fingerprints would exasperate him. And he would be unable to contain his slight annoyance: he would raise his voice slightly and say “Och, get away from the CAR please laddie!”
    Ah, halcyon days indeed.
    And the staggering thing is this: for a tenner a week Cardiff let their star player go after the first of the two seasons in the top flight. He was on the then maximum wage of £20 which was abolished that year. He wanted a 50% increase. Bill Jones turned this down by saying “No player is bigger than the club”. (Ah but it turned out that Danny almost WAS !!)
    Johnny Haynes was also on the same £20, but that same summer got a staggering 500% increase to become the first £100 a week footballer …and Malloy was every bit as good a footballer, and just as VITAL to the Bluebirds, as Haynes was to Fulham. He wanted a tenner pay rise, not EIGHTY.
    We went into the second season with Splott-born Frank Rankmore, who was a decent centre half who looked a bit like Burt Lancaster. But he wasn’t the commanding centre half that Malloy was, and more importantly, was not the LEADER of MEN.
    Cardiff have never had such a leader since.
    And you know, I genuinely believe that City would have stayed up that second year were Danny at the helm. And who knows? They may then have consolidated and consolidated and done an Arsenal or Everton and never left the top flight since!
    All for a tenner! Half a century in the wilderness resulted. Let it be a warning to us all, not to be too parsimonious.
    …’

  12. Dai Woosnam says:

    Apols. My maths went haywire there.
    Johnny Haynes got a FOUR hundred percent increase …not a FIVE hundred one!
    (Well in my defence, it IS nearly 3am….and my eyelids are like uncut buttonholes!)

  13. Anthony O'Brien says:

    How sad to hear of the death of Danny Malloy and how sobering to discover he was 84. With fans advancing in years like myself he is remembered as a defensive powerhouse who took no prisoners. In “the Pink Un’” on Saturday night the Danny Malloy column – “as told to Peter Corrigan”, if I remember correctly, was required reading for us young boys. I think it was there that Danny answered the question as to why he went into tackles like a blockbuster. His explanation was that he had not practised enough with his left foot but had since rectified the fault. Strange, then, that his tackles still retained their blockbusting quality!

    In his autobiography he recalls knocking Brian Clough out – an act for which he felt truly sorry. So be it – but it comes nowhere near to the worst incident I have ever seen on a football pitch when another (and very famous) Scottish footballer effectively finished the playing career of Cardiff City’s Steve Gammon with a deliberate kick to the leg when the referee wasn’t looking. There is no way Danny Malloy would have behaved like that – he was always a man’s man who could take it as well as dish it out and be a genuine sportsman after the game. RIP, Danny Malloy.

  14. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Hello Dai – I thought of you when I first learned of Danny Malloy’s death. I was going to do something about him for the RIP section on here, but he’d left City before I saw my first match, so I’ve decided to use what you’ve posted here as a tribute to him – hope you don’t mind.

    I was aware of your Davina Wood piece on Vincent Tan because somebody started a thread on it on the City messageboard I use. Your views certainly caused a lot of comment and I would say it was about 60/40 against your point of view which isn’t bad because it’s, essentially, an anti Vincent Tan messageboard.

    As for myself, you won’t be surprised to learn that my opinion differs from yours. In saying that, I mentioned having a new respect for our owner after he finally admitted to his mistake about playing in red and he appears to have made a better choice of CEO this time in Ken Choo. Mention of Mr Choo takes me on to the reasons why I cannot be as big a fan as Mr Tan as you are though, our CEO divulged what the wage bill for this financial year would look like if we had kept the same squad for the whole of this season in a recent meeting that a friend of mine attended – I won’t betray a confidence by saying what the figure was, but it was enormous and, when you look at the results and level of performance from the side this season, I don’t see how any other conclusion can be reached than there has been some serious misspending in the past year and a half or so.

    Of course, the second and third managers you mention had a big part to play in that situation arising. As a fan of Malky Mackay, I cannot deny he bought poorly in the summer of 2013, but, by his own admission, Vincent Tan (along with previous CEO Simon Lim) virtually gave Mackay and Moody carte blanche when it came to transfer deals during that time. The fact that Ole never had that freedom was, in many ways, an admission that the administrators at the club had got things wrong previously and much was made of the “Committee” system which came into place around this time last year whereby Chairman, CEO, owner (or owner’s representative) and manager would thrash out proposed deals before approval was given to them going ahead.

    Sad to say, you could count the number of good signings we’ve made since the transfer committee was introduced on the fingers of one hand and another two of the players who agreed to join us in January 2014 left the club this week – one of them becoming the third player signed a year ago to have his transfer cancelled by mutual consent by the club.

    I mention of all of this because it says so much about the way the club is being run. It’s now nearly three years since Mr Tan announced a more “hands on” approach for himself at Cardiff and, even with the financial windfall of a season in the Premier League and a gigantic parachute payment this season, we seem to be in as big a financial hole as we ever were. Changing back to blue hasn’t altered the fact that mid table in the Championship (with a level of performance which doesn’t merit that “lofty” position) is hugely underperforming given the club’s costs – City have been a very poorly run football club in the last three years and the man at the top has to take at least some of the blame for that.

  15. Dai Woosnam says:

    Dear Anthony O’Brien,
    If this was a video link you would now see me blushing crimson. What a foot-in-mouth from me!
    Fancy…attributing to Paul your “Mandela was dubbed a terrorist” line.
    All I can say is that it WAS gone two in the morning and I had just put in 12 hours solid at my keyboard sending out my latest Daigressing to nearly 2000 readers all over the world.
    BTW, if I say it myself, it is a GREAT and FREE read…as Paul will testify as a regular recipient.
    Any reader of Paul’s blog can drop me a line at
    daigress@hotmail.com
    and write Daigressing in the subject box, and I will add you to my list.
    Just one thing though…football rarely gets a mention!
    Back to soccer before I sign off.
    Anthony mentioned the shocking gratuitous foul on Steve Gammon after the ball had gone. It broke his leg in two places, like the thuggish Shawcross assault achieved on Aaron Ramsey’s leg. I was there too that game. It happened right in front of the dugouts and our side were livid. And as Anthony says, it finished Steve’s career.
    And trust me, good wing halves though Colin Baker, Derrick Sullivan, Alan Harrington, and (especially) Barrie Hole were, Gammon was a different class. He could have gone on to be a City GREAT.
    Now…fast forward over 30 years, and I was in the audience at a dinner at the Rhondda Sports Centre in Ystrad. The after dinner speakers were George Best, Rodney Marsh and ….Denis Law!!
    I was ITCHING to ask Law – a great player BTW, whose debut for Scotland I saw at Ninian, when at 17 he scored in their 3-2 win, as Dave Bowen cleared and the ball bounced off Law’s bottom into the goal – about that shameful incident, but decided it would not be welcome, and erred on the side of caution.
    I don’t think anyone ever DID ask him.
    I often wonder if he ever thinks about it.
    Shawcross was lucky…he did not finish a fellow pro’s career.
    Will sign off now.
    Apols again, Anthony.
    Still, if it is any consolation, I will make at least 3 or 4 mistakes before today is out. I do EVERY day.
    Thank God I have an understanding wife in dear Larissa.
    I am a walking ERROR ZONE.
    Kindest,
    Dai.

  16. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Dai,
    No need for blushes – it’s always good and thought-provoking to read your comments. I saw a copy of Denis Law’s autobiography in a second=hand bookshop some time ago, but when I looked in the comprehensive list of names at the back, Steve Gammon didn’t even rate a mention. I’m convinced that when Denis Law kicked him, the crack of the breaking bone could be heard above the roar of the crowd. I wonder if anyone else remembers it the same way?
    In the weeks before the Denis Law incident, Steve Gammon had outplayed a number of
    top inside-forwards, including Jimmy Greaves and Johnny Haynes, and was surely destined for great things. His technique in the air, especially, was incredible. In those days I used to collect autographs and he was the only player I ever came across who signed his name every time in beautiful handwriting, even when I gave him a number of photographs to sign at the same time. I had a scrapbook with autographed photos from dozens of Cardiff players and ex-players, but in my late teens I sold it to a friend for the sum of ten shillings (enough for a night out in those days). Looking back, it was as bad a decision as any that Ole made in his time at Cardiff – but that’s life.

    Your mention of Shawcross is also spot on. But, what about the reaction of the so-called Cardiff fans (I’d say “thugs” if they knew how to spell it) who called Aaron Ramsey a traitor for joining Arsenal and knifed his friend when, during his enforced absence, he was having a quiet night out in Cardiff? Sometimes, I despair of human nature.

    Coming back to Danny Malloy, I hope all the real fans show their appreciation of a true legend at the cup game next Saturday.

    And don’t forget to keep up your messages, Dai.

  17. Dai Woosnam says:

    Thanks Anthony. You made me feel a lot better.
    And thanks too Paul, for giving me the honour of appearing in your Danny Malloy tribute.
    Just a word to say that I too recall Steve Gammon’s wonderful leap.
    By one of life’s rich ironies, the leap it most reminded me of was …
    (wait for it…)
    Denis Law’s!
    They could have passed for twin brothers…neither was that tall, both with blond hair, SG though the more muscular.
    And both men had amazing spring heels …with the added ability to stay up and hover a full second more than most players.
    I too recall his autograph as one of more distinctive ones amongst Bluebirds personnel.
    The late Dai Ward’s was very special too. His dot over the letter “i” was a halo.
    And now, before signing off, it is MY turn to soothe Anthony’s brow.
    Back in 1987, seeing that The Echo had just produced an identical replica of the 1927 programme, I figured that before long, nobody would know the difference between the two!
    I decided to sell my authentic original copy of that 1927 programme
    Big mistake.
    Compounded by the fact that I was too mean to put an ad in The Echo saying “open to offers”, I decided to put it in THE CAMPAIGN the free newspaper that served Caerphilly where I was then living. They placed your ads for free …as long as it was for items under £50.
    So I asked for £49.
    That seemed a decent sum. Yes I know…the balance of my mind must have been disturbed.
    But I figured at the time that a programme seller that day in 1927 would have needed to have sold an amazing 1,960 (one thousand nine hundred and sixty) programmes, to have THAT amount of dosh in his mitts.
    The fact you could buy a small terraced house for £49 in 1927, I evidently conveniently forgot!
    Well …the ad was placed.
    And guess what?
    I would like to say that the phone never stopped ringing.
    But I only had three calls…and sold it to the first guy, a young kid in Bedwas, who added insult to injury by saying he could not drive…so I had to drive the mile to meet him outside Bedwas church.
    And then a year or so later, I was met by a thunderbolt.
    I discovered that the City did not have a copy of their own, and had paid £500+ for one in an auction at Christie’s, or Southeby’s …or somesuch auctioneer.
    They apparently wanted one for the opening of their new John Charles Suite.
    One mate of mine who couldn’t resist it, told me that he had heard it on good authority that the programme was put in for auction …
    …by a kid in Bedwas!
    Apocryphal? Maybe.
    It does not matter much to me, either way.
    But I did have a recurring nightmare for a number of years, where that same programme went back on to the market and was being bid for by anonymous bidders in America and Japan! Soon it became the most valuable artifact in the world! Outstripping the Turin Shroud!
    And I would wake up in a sweat. The pillows absolutely sodden.
    Why the Turin Shroud you wonder?
    Well, because when I was a boy in Porth, boys would line up to view it. And I used to keep it in greaseproof paper and not let any of them touch it. It was in mint condition. Only a slight browning of the staples indicated its age.
    Like I say…I must have been mad.
    But hey, if I had not flogged it, I would not have this very special story now!
    So feel easy Anthony for letting your scrapbook go for ten bob.
    You made your pal happy…as I made the Bedwas kid.
    And as my dear wife Larissa tells me: “you have never been lucky with MONEY…but you are lucky in LOVE”.
    And I am sooo thankful that it is not the other way round. (!!)
    Kindest,
    Dai.
    PS But mind you, the balance of my mind MUST have been disturbed that day! Ha!

  18. Anthony O'Brien says:

    Dai.
    Brilliant!

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