CARLING CUP SEMI-FINAL -  Cardiff City 1   Palace     1                
                           ( Cardiff win 3-1 on penalties)

   It was one of those games! My insides were burning up throughout the whole 120 minutes and more ; though that can be explained by the chillis I injudiciously gobbled up in the pre-match warm up at Chapter.
   No, it did little for my high blood pressure and I was relieved I wouldn't be going to the surgery the next day for a check-up.
   As the game went on our manager Malky Mackay became increasingly frenetic. His sign language from the dug-out took the form of a Primary teacher on speed doing motion songs last lesson Friday afternoon. He seems determined to be the exact antithesis of last boss Dave Jones, who made a statue appear animated.
   Despite an early o.g. courtesy of the same player who'd scored against us in the first leg, Anthony Gardner ( someone quipped that he was on a hat-trick!), we seemed determined to fulfil their manager Dougie Freedman's gibe  that we were ' the nearly men'.
   We nearly scored, three times hitting the woodwork, and even in the dying minutes our Icelandic midfielder Gunnarsson should have buried at least one of two headers he had on goal.
   It looked as if Wembley wasn't to be when our top scorer 'King' Kenny Miller skyed our first penalty in the shoot-out.
   But second-choice keeper Tom Heaton (who has been favoured for every Carling Cup game) was magnificent. At fault for the goal in the first leg, he more than compensated by astonishingly saving two penalties, their first taken by Cardiff boy Jermaine Easter ( maybe a mistake on Freedman's part?).
   When their fourth pen. was skyed in an imitation of Miller's by their Norwegian international Parr, there were scenes of utter jubilation and pandemonium.
   You'd have thought Wembley wasn't our second home and nobody had been tempting fate all night by chanting - 'We're the greatest Cardiff City and we're going to Wem-ber- ley! Wem-ber-ley! Wem-ber-ley!'
   Heaton dashes over to embrace fellow keeper Marshall, pursued by all our players. Pitch invasion by ecstatic fans. Malaysian owners summoning the ghost of Sam Hamman by doing the ayatollah on the field. Freedman left to rue his statement that we'd be 'scared stiff'.
    'Us?' someone said on Facebook. 'How can you say 'us' ?'
    Yet anyone who supports a team properly knows that fans play a massive part in games and the atmosphere last Tuesday undoubtedly lifted the players.
   Heaton became an instant hero. He appeared on 'Sport Wales' and also a programme called 'Soccer AM' on Sky1, which appeared to consist of a studio audience press-ganged into laughing at the presenters inanities.
   What is especially ironic is that long-term CCFC fan and 'character' Dai Hunt was in trouble for accosting Heaton at the club's training ground days before Tuesday's match, accusing him of losing us the tie! Hunt was banned from the second leg , the only  time he has missed a game since falling off his bike in Swansea .  I heard that someone shouted for him to 'do the ayatollah', but.......in Swansea?
   So, we are off to Wembley with the knowledge that Malky is very different from Dave Jones and we stand a better chance this time. Not only do we have incredible team spirit and work-rate, but this team never give up. Moreover, he can pick different players and vary tactics according to the opponents. This season we have played 4-1-4-1, 4-3-3, 4-4-1-1 and 4-5-1........sometimes in the course of a single game!
   If Dave Jones had asked our players to play 'the diamond', then the likes of Chopra and Bothroyd would have insisted on gold instead!
   Amazingly, on the Carling Cup highlights programme with Manish Bhasin and Mark Bright, the latter actually stated we hadn't deserved to win ( Palace didn't have one shot on goal in the second leg!). I take it he was speaking as an ex- Palace player and not as the objective pundit he was getting paid to be. He begrudgingly wished us 'Good luck!', his voice hoarse from cheering for Palace the night before.
   So, I'm looking forward to taking on Liverpool and hope we 'lamp' them.
The reason I especially dislike them has nothing to do with being an Everton fan in the 60s before I returned to Wales, or the role of Liverpool Council in the drowning of Treweryn.
   No, it has everything to do with recent events regarding Suarez. I was appalled by the support given to him by Dalglish and the players, wearing t-shirts which displayed this openly. Found guilty by the Football League of racist abuse against Patrice Evra, the Liverpool fans yesterday continued to support him by booing Evra every time he touched the ball and flying Uraguan flags.
    Every single tv pundit said the match had passed off without incident and Mark Lawrenson merely stated that  the whole situation 'added spice' to proceedings!
   The club's dreadful stance had made that booing acceptable. Every decent Liverpool fan ( and I'm sure there are many) should come out and condemn the actions of those who continued to abuse Evra : he was the victim not the perpetrator.
   When Cardiff City fans abused the gay footballer Justin Fashanu who played for  Torquay against us in the 80s, I was just as horrified and many of my friends were as well.
   Anyway, I am looking forward to the match and to our contest against of one my favourite players, Craig Bellamy, despite the fact that he said over the summer that he would play for us 'for nothing'. 


Walking Down Wembley Way

 

We’ll be there, we’ll be there!
Walking down Wembley Way once more!

City followers from Merthyr
doing the ayatollah.

Fans from Cardiff
bearing their midriffs.

Supporters from Bridgend
bantering with friends.

Bluebirds from Barry
chanting for Don Cowie.

All the way from the Rhondda
to see King Kenny score.

Fanatics from Ponty
cheering Valleys’ boy Darcy.

They’ll be coming from Cwmbran

to chant for Super Kev McNaughton.

They’ll do what we want from Caerphilly town,

just like Peter Whittingham.

Walking down Wembley Way once more,

we’ll be there, we’ll be there!


 


10/09/2013 17:28

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