Wembley last time out 22/05/2010Posted by NB in Cardiff City, season 2009/10.
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As I write this I’m sitting on the plane heading for the Championship Play Off Final in London and it brings back memories of when I was at Wembley the last time watching the F.A. Cup semi final between Barnsley and Cardiff on Sunday the 6th of April 2008.
I decided to travel for the semi final as the final was on the 17th of May, which is Norway’s national day, and there wasn’t of course any guarantee for Cardiff winning the semi final either. So this was my chance to see Cardiff play at Wembley, something that doesn’t happen too often. Here’s the account of Wembley the last time out for me:
The trip started early in the morning on the day of the match from the airport in Bergen. As the plane flew in over English soil the landscape was covered with snow, and it was strange sitting on the train towards London watching how the snow was lying on the trees and it was still snowing heavily. It turned out to be the most snowy day in England for twenty years and that wasn’t exactly good news as I was on there to see a football match!
Luckily the weather improved with the temperature becoming more pleasant and the conditions were good when the game kicked off.
When I first travelled to Britain and Cardiff to watch the Bluebirds back in 1993 I also went to London to see the F.A. Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Tottenham. That I fifteen years later should witness Cardiff playing a F.A. Cup semi-final at Wembley I couldn’t have dreamt of. Cardiff did win what was then the 3rd division that year but City also lost 2-3 to non-league Bath in the first round of the F.A. Cup!
Coming up from the underground at Wembley Park station and seeing the characteristic arches of the mighty new Wembley Stadium appear before me was fantastic. As I approached the stadium along with hundreds of Cardiff supporters I was offered a ticket in the Cardiff section for £50 (and I had the impression I could bargain the price down a few pounds further), but having already paid a lot more than that for the ticket in the neutral section of the ground I resisted the temptation. In a way it was actually quite nice to be seated on the opposite side to the Bluebirds supporters as I then got a great view of the blue, singing hordes.
New Wembley is a massive and impressive stadium. Having cost £757 million it’s a state of the art football ground and walking around inside the stadium before going out to the seating you could easily mistake it for being a shopping center with shops, restaurants and bars everywhere. There are even 2500 toilets!
Having found my seat about halfway up behind one of the goals I got talking to a couple of friendly Swedes sitting nearby me. It turned out they were father and son taking the opportunity while in London to watch a match at Wembley, and they kept me company at half time as well. The father was a Millwall fan and they didn’t really have a favorite in the semi final, but they ended up cheering for Cardiff since I did.
As the teams entered the field the noise from the near 83.000 spectators was ear deafening and I got shivers as I there and then experienced what was up until then my greatest and proudest moment as a Cardiff supporter.
The biggest surprise in Cardiff’s starting lineup was for me that Dave Jones had chosen Trevor Sinclair to start up front alongside Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Other than that the team looked as expected.
Finally, it was time for kick off.
From the start there was something nervous about both sets of players, and there was not much good football being played. But if the match over all wasn’t a great one to watch for the neutral, at least Joe Ledley’s goal after nine minutes was a great one. I was just settling in when Tony Capaldi’s long throw in was cleared by a Barnsley player straight into the feet of Ledley who hit a perfect volley from about sixteen meters out. What an incredible opening to the game, and it was particularly pleasing that it was Joe Ledley, a Cardiff player through and through having been a Cardiff fan all his life and playing for City since the age of nine, who got the goal.
Kayode Odejayi was Barnsley’s hero when he scored the winning goal against Chelsea in the quarter final, but luckily he didn’t repeat his heroics against Cardiff as he somehow managed to put the ball wide being one on one with Peter Enckelman in the 66th minute. Odejayi got the ball on the halfway line and the time it took him to run towards the Cardiff goal seemed like an eternity. At least it took so long that there was plenty of time for me to think “he’s bound to score”. The best we could hope for was a lucky save from Enckelman, but the disappointment of the equalizer had already set in when the Nigerian incredibly missed. What a relief!
City held on to their 1-0 lead and was through to the F.A. Cup final!
Leaving the stadium I was impressed by how the police kept order as so many people were making their way from Wembley towards the city center. It’s a lot more chaotic and feels a lot more crowded when only 20.000 people leave Brann Stadion in Bergen after Brann’s home games!
I could return to Norway happy and looking forward to seeing the F.A. Cup final on the telly knowing I’d been to the fantastic Wembley stadium as Cardiff clinched their place in the final.
May my Wembley experience be just as good today!
Ticket hunt update: prey in sight! 20/05/2010Posted by NB in Cardiff City, season 2009/10.
Tags: Play Off final
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Today I got conformation from the delivery office that the envelope from Cardiff has arrived, and the person I spoke to was even the very same person that is going to be at work when we go there on Saturday! Having explained the somewhat unusual circumstances to him he made me feel relaxed that everything’s going to be fine come Saturday.
We are Cardiff City and we’re going to Wembley (brilliant song by the way)!
Ticket hunting 19/05/2010Posted by NB in Cardiff City, season 2009/10.
Tags: Play Off final
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Two days ago I was relieved and happy having bought the tickets for the Play Off final, but as it turns out the ticket hunt has just started for me. I’m now left sweating over whether or not I’ll get the tickets before kick off Saturday!
When I last purchased tickets online (when traveling to see Cardiff versus Crystal Palace) I had them sent to a London address. To make sure the tickets for the Play Off final reached me in time I had them sent out to the same London address. The problem is that Cardiff City send the Play Off tickets out by special delivery. That’s of course done with the best intensions by the club, but with the recipient not being at home for the rest of the week at the London address he can’t sign for the envelope containing the tickets. This will lead to the tickets being left at the local delivery office for collection but when I called them today the envelope hadn’t arrived yet and since I’m not the addressee there are strict rules for giving the envelope out to me anyway.
I knew the countdown to the final could be nerve wrecking, but I hadn’t imagined the reason for it would be because I wasn’t sure if I’d physically get hold of the tickets. And I haven’t even mentioned the possibility of volcanic ash stopping me from going to London all together…
I’ll be a very happy man when inside Wembley Saturday!
Tags: Play Off final
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Congratulations to all Norwegians on this our National Day the 17th of May!
On this very day two years ago Cardiff played Portsmouth in the FA Cup final at Wembley making the great occasion every 17th of May is even greater (despite the defeat). This year the 17th of May was not all about “Ja, vi elsker” (our national anthem), flags, parades, ice cream and the children having fun either as the tickets for the Play Off final was made available for the away travel members. That meant it was my turn to try to get my hands on a couple of the precious tickets with only a few thousand of Cardiff’s allocation of 37000 tickets left. After some initial trouble on the e-ticketing web site and no answer on the Ticketmaster phone due to the amount of people wanting their tickets at 9 AM although the club has stated there was going to be enough tickets for everyone qualifying, the tickets were secured.
I can now start looking forward to going to London along with my father on Saturday for what must be the most important match in the history of Cardiff City Football Club!
Pitch worry 16/05/2010Posted by NB in Cardiff City, season 2009/10.
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The pitch at Wembley has come under a lot of criticism this season and after yesterday’s FA Cup final Chelsea’s captain John Terry said the pitch was so bad it ruined the final.
I find it worrying that the pitch can hamper the teams in the upcoming Play Off final and maybe even be decisive for the outcome of the match.
It’s a disgrace that a fantastic venue like Wembley doesn’t have a better pitch.
Interesting to note that the FA Cup finalists were allowed to train on Wembley the day before the final to familiarise themselves with the surface. I wonder if Cardiff and Blackpool will be given the same opportunity…?
A rollercoaster ride to Wembley 13/05/2010Posted by NB in Cardiff City, season 2009/10.
Tags: Blackpool, Dave Jones, David Marshall, Fryatt, Howard, Kermorgant, Leicester City, Michael Chopra, Peter Whittingham
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Cardiff City 2 Leicester City 3, 3-3 on aggregate a.e.t., 4-3 on penalties
With the euphoria after yesterday’s amazing match starting to die down a little I’ll try to put down some words about it all, but as Dave Jones said it’s hard to find the words to describe the feelings! “Cardiff on the way to Premier League” reads one of the headlines in the Norwegian online newspapers today, and that’s as true as it’s surreal! We’re so close now.
I sat down at Fotballpuben yesterday with a good sort of nervousness. One the one hand I felt certain we were going to progress to the final, on the other hand the dramatic Nottingham Forest versus Blackpool game and the failure of 2002 told me to take nothing for granted. I was however not prepared for the hours of emotional roller-coastering that lay ahead!
The first thing I noticed watching Sky Sports’ coverage of the match was the electric atmosphere at Cardiff City Stadium. It’s easy to envision Premier League football being played there next season!
In the build up to the match it was emphasized that Cardiff had to give full throttle and not try to defend themselves to the final by relying on the 1-0 lead from the first leg. And boy did the Bluebirds set of in a awesome tempo and with some superb play! Leicester looked destined for defeat, and when Michael Chopra made it 1-0 it felt like it was game over. That feeling couldn’t have been more wrong as Leicester from their first chance of the match equalized and then somehow amazingly went ahead courtesy of an own goal by captain Mark Hudson. Was his really happening? Can football really be so cruel and unfair? Disbelief was he feeling as the teams went of the field for half time. Shock was the feeling as Leicester even more unbelievably went further ahead just a few minutes into the second half. Calling the Play Offs a lottery suddenly made perfect sense! Should Leicester send Cardiff out of the Play Offs it would be absolute robbery, but having said that the Foxes did look more of a threat with the duo of Fryatt and Howard up front than they did in the first match.
Seeing Cardiff 1-3 down on the night and 2-3 down on aggregate I was suddenly very glad the away goal rule isn’t applied in the Play Offs, and although there was lots of time remaining it was easy to think that this was not our occasion after all. Then the penalty was given. Our brilliant top scorer Whittingham did what he should putting the ball into the back of the net and we were definitely back in it! The game going into extra time did not feel good, and going to penalties even worse. I mentally switched off a bit as the shootout started. It was unbearable. Only as Marshall saved Kermorgant’s nonchalant effort did I let the emotions burst out again, and when Marshall also saved Waghorn’s penalty the sensational feeling as the only other Bluebird supporter present (plus my Cardiff sympathizing friend of a Liverpool fan) and I jumped around cheering was just as much a feeling of relief as of joy. Justice was done in the end after a game where we all in all dominated and was the best team even with the full time scoreline saying otherwise.
Now only Blackpool stand in the way for Cardiff to become a Premier League side in what promises to be a great game on the fantastic Wembley Stadium. I’ll be there, I’ll be there!
Blackpool, Cardiff, Premier League. Spot the odd one out. Yes, the answer is Blackpool!
DJ sets the tune 11/05/2010Posted by NB in Cardiff City, season 2009/10.
Tags: Blackpool, DJ Campbell, Fotballpuben, Nottingham Forest, Robert Earnshaw
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What a thriller of a match as Blackpool booked their place in the Play Off final tonight! Two goals from Cardiff icon Robert Earnshaw wasn’t enough for Nottingham Forest as Blackpool keep up their impressive form. DJ Campbell was the Blackpool hero with his hat trick and he’ll be a handful for City’s defense should we make it to the final.
Let’s hope for a cracking match tomorrow night as well – as long as Cardiff win of course!
I’ll watch the match at Fotballpuben in Bergen. Hopefully along with a few fellow Bluebirds supporters.
One step closer – but remeber Stoke in 2002 09/05/2010Posted by NB in Cardiff City, season 2009/10.
Tags: Peter Whittingham
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Leicester City 0 Cardiff City 1
A good result (that would have even better had the “normal” away goal rule been applied in the Play Offs) which means we’re one step closer to the Wembley final. What happened in the 2002 Play Off semis versus Stoke keeps me from feeling we’re there yet though!
A few lines about today’s match first. Cardiff started the match far better than Leicester and dominated the first half. After the break I felt Leicester had much more of the play but although there were chances at both ends I couldn’t help feel Cardiff somehow were in control of the game. When the Bluebirds were awarded the free kick that Whittingham scored from there was a bit of back and forth as Whittingham tried to steal a few meters. The ref ordered him to pull it back, but as the ref turned his back on Whitts Cardiff’s top scorer had the nerve to throw the ball a bit forward again. I reckon that action was what made the difference as the free kick only just sneaked in after hitting the post!
As the managers pointed out after the match it’s only “half time” in this two legged semi final, and thinking of it like that 1-0 is not a secure lead. It’s a god thing that Wednesday’s return game is in Cardiff. I think that is decisive and that Cardiff will go through to the Wembley final.
The situation Cardiff are in now reminds me of the Play Off semis back in 2002. Cardiff played Stoke and after the first leg away Cardiff led 2-1. Ahead of the second match I’d already booked plane tickets for going to the final, and as the return game looked to end in a 0-0 draw I was sending out e-mails to people I know in Cardiff asking how I could get hold of a ticket for the final while listening to the match commentary! Then the drama started as Stoke scored in the 90th minute. I thought it didn’t matter as Cardiff had scored two goals away in the first leg. The only problem was the away goal rule wasn’t applied back then either! Stoke went on to score the only goal in extra time and I couldn’t believe it. So with this in mind I don’t take anything for granted when Leicester come to Cardiff on Wednesday!
A sofa to desire and off we go! 07/05/2010Posted by NB in Cardiff City, season 2009/10.
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Wouldn’t it be perfect to watch the Bluebirds on the telly sitting in a sofa named Cardiff?
For the last month or so my local furniture shop has unwittingly been spreading an awareness of Cardiff among the locals by promoting a sofa beautifully named exactly that: Cardiff. I actually suspect most of my fellow askøyværinger (as the inhabitants of the island Askøy that I live on are called) will from now on associate Cardiff with furniture and not a football team or not even the capital of Wales!
It was my eight year old son who spotted the banner first, and when he said “look, dad, it says Cardiff on the wall over there” I was sure he had got it wrong.
Even with a grand name like that I’m not going to buy the sofa, as I didn’t do either when another shop had a bed named Cardiff for sale some years ago. I wonder if they name any furniture in the UK Cardiff?
Tomorrow the Play Offs start when Blackpool and Nottingham Forest meet, and on Sunday it’s of course the most interesting game as Cardiff travel to Leicester. I really feel Cardiff have good chance of making it this season, but that’s the feeling all the fans of the other Play Off contenders will have for their team as well. Being as objective as I can (and withstanding the temptation to call the Play Offs a lottery) I would say any of the four teams can win it. They’re all good teams with quality players and very good managers (which is something I couldn’t have said had Swansea been in the Play Offs).
I both hope for and predict a Cardiff versus Blackpool final at Wembley come the 22nd of May!
Dead rubber and failing Jacks 03/05/2010Posted by NB in Cardiff City, season 2009/10.
Tags: Darren Purse, Dave Jones, Paulo Sousa, the Jacks
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Derby County 2 Cardiff City 0
It was dead rubber apparently. Still it’s terrible when the Bluebirds lose. Even with nine changes from the last match meaning it was more a reserve team fielded than a first team. Hopefully the players returning for the Play Off matches won’t be affected by the defeat.
Should Cardiff not win the Play Offs there will be plenty of those who’ll point to Dave Jones playing a “shadow side” versus Derby as one of the reasons for the failure. I’m not going to be among them. It makes perfect sense to rest key players and not risk any new injuries or suspensions at this stage.
More importantly on Sunday the Jacks failed to take advantage of Blackpool only drawing against Bristol City, as Swansea’s 0-0 home draw against Doncaster saw them fail to make the Play Offs. I bet Paulo Sousa still will feel that his team is the best in the division, but not even making the Play Offs he can’t expect to be taken seriously anymore. I can’t deny it feels good to see Swansea fail, although beating them in the Play Offs would of course have been great as well.
At the bottom even a Darren Purse goal couldn’t help Sheffield Wednesday keep their place in the Championship as another former Bluebird, Alan Lee, scored one of Crystal Palace’s goals in the 2-2 draw that saw them stay up. So it’s good luck to Darren Purse in League One next season!