Time to rise to the challenge 13/05/2011Posted by NB in Cardiff City, season 2010/11.
Tags: Craig Bellamy, Dave Jones, Jay Bothroyd, Norwich City, Portsmouth
About one month ago I was in the Ninian Stand with my father and six year old son watching Cardiff outplaying and comfortably beating Portsmouth 3-0. City regained second spot and looked a good bet for automatic promotion, and there was a good atmosphere among the Cardiff supporters at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Writing this I know all too well that we squandered our chance to earn automatic promotion, and even had to see Swansea nick third place from us on goal difference. If Dave Jones and his men manage to dust themselves off, rise to the occasion and win the Play Offs as DJ so boldly states he believes we will, then I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Let me first tell you about my trip to Wales back in April.
My first match ringside at the Cardiff City Stadium and my six year old son’s first ever live Cardiff match could hardly have been better. It was an easy win against a very unimpressive Portsmouth side, but it was nonetheless a
very enjoyable match to watch as a Bluebirds supporter and the three points ensured we went back into second place after Norwich’s win the day before.
My father, my son and I set out from London by car Saturday morning, and the drive along the M4 went smoothly. Upon arrival in Cardiff we checked in at our hotel, the Park Plaza, before heading for the Cardiff City Stadium. It was strange to pass Sloper Road and see houses where Ninian Park used to lie, but on the other hand it was thrilling to see the Cardiff City Stadium appear in front of us.
Ninian Park had its charm tucked in between the surrounding buildings as it was, but the benefits of a top modern stadium soon became aparrant as we drove into the spacious parking lot outside the stadium. Then, after taking some pictures, we moved over to the nearby McDonald’s picking up our match tickets from the collections booth on the way. Eating while enjoying the view of the Cardiff City Stadium meant this was a Big Mac meal to remember!
By the way, the tickets we picked up were reprints because the original tickets, which were sent out at the 17th of March, never arrived at my home address in Norway. I suspect I found the reason for that upon seeing the address label on the envelope with the reprinted tickets: the last line saying it should be sent to Norway was missing!
Entering the Cardiff City Stadium made my thoughts go back to Wembley and last years unhappy Play Off final. Cardiff’s new ground is of course not quite as grand as Wembley, but it still reminded me of it. Finding our seats in the Ninian Stand with the sun shining, the players doing their warm up on the pitch and the ground filling up it was pure bliss.
Up front when buying the tickets online I wasn’t sure in which section of the ground I should choose,but as it turned out we landed in the middle of the singing part of the crowd which soothed me better than my son, who thought it was a bit to loud! He didn’t like everyone standing up either, but when everyone suddenly sat down after about fifteen minutes (some rule I’m unaware of?) he was all right. As was Cardiff, taking the lead early on, and as my son and I made our way for some half time refreshments, Bothroyd made it 2-0 with us watching on the TV-screen under the stand. By then Portsmouth had been reduced to ten men, and City made sure of the win scoring a third goal. Just too bad that Craig Bellamy, who made the pass to all of the three goals, didn’t get to finish of an excellent game with a goal himself!
Dave Jones is not pleased with supporters and the media saying we should have made the top two. Jones is right that finishing fourth and making the Play Offs would have been seen as a good achievement when the season started back in August 2010, but with the players that have come in since then and with the sort of play we’ve shown at times since then combined with statements both from Jones, the Malaysian owners and some of the players during the campaign, there’s no doubt in my mind that we both could have and should have finished at least second. Who would have thought back in August last year that Norwich would go on to win their second promotion in as many seasons, and who would have thought that the Jacks had it in them to finish third? We should have done better, but we still have the small hope of Play Off glory to cling onto. If we manage that, then much will be forgotten. Even that Swansea finished above us in the table. Lose, and worst case see Swansea as Play Off winners, and I fear we’ll get a knock that’ll make it really hard to bounce back next season even if Craig Bellamy stays on as he’s vowed.
Starting tonight the team must rise to the challenge if the promise land that is the Premier League is to be reached. Forget the dreadful defeat at home to Middlesbrough and not beating Burnley in the last match. Beating Reading is all that matters now.
Come on you Bluebirds!
PS. Congratulations to Q.P.R. on winning the Championship! They deserved it, and in the end I’m glad no points were deducted.