The ‘Beautiful Game Tour‘ (aka Liverpool FC) rolls into Cardiff today for a game at the Cardiff City Stadium, or Bleak House as I am now prone to calling it, as a tease to my long-suffering resident season ticket holder. “What the dickens is going on?” I ask, when the ‘delusional one‘ begins to extol something approaching ‘Great Expectations‘ regarding the fortunes of the home team. “This may well be A Tale of Two Cities“ I reply, but “if you believe in hope for your team today you must have lost yourself in The Old Curiosity Shop of dreams”. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, particularly for those who ultimately provide the basis of my laid back lifestyle, but… “your lot are falling on Hard Times“ I mutter under my breath. Local fans should take a lead from Oliver Twist, as the outcome from today is likely to be no more than a bowl of gruel.
In the tale of two cities theme, it is the challenge of the former docklands as the Pierhead Building takes on the Liver Building:
But for me, it is yet another lunch teaser… what is it with these football teams and bird mascots? You watch your match, I’m going to dream about a Bluebird starter followed by a roast Liver Bird.
It’s 3.00p.m. on a trepidatious Saturday afternoon for the local desperados…
… but wait, some people have clearly not read the script. Rumour has it these days that Liverpool FC use their pace to overwhelm the opposition from the kick-off, then ease back as the match goes on. Eight minutes on the clock and up steps the aptly Dickensian named Jordan Mutch to put Cardiff City into a surprising but deserved 1-0 lead. Only a few pages into the book and the home fans are already sensing a happy ending. However, The Artful Dodger, (Louis Suarez), hits back with an equalising goal on 16 minutes. The home fans remain upbeat, and on 24 minutes are again aptly rewarded by a Dickensian double of Jordan Mutch passing to Frazier Campbell for the second goal.
Scrooge has clearly had no hand in the influencing of either teams defence, as later in the half Martin Skrtel equalises for Liverpool. The home fans turn their joy into a less than warm reception for their hated owner, the Uriah Heep type villain who makes Miss Havisham’s neglect and final destruction of her own home look like a blueprint for his ultimate intentions in CF11. “We’ll always be blue” is repeatedly chanted by the home fans, waving a mass of blue scarves in support of their team playing in red! It could easily have been a song that a young Charles Dickens sang while his father and other family members were incarcerated in Marshalsea Debtors Prison back in the early 19th century.
Half-time brings rapturous applause from all parts of the stadium… 2-2. It is looking like the Bob Cratchett’s and Joe Gargery’s of the world might just be getting some reward for their honest toil. As the second half begins someone in the crowd is making their views known across the pitch to the empty seat where the owner should have been sitting…
The Great Expectations of the first half soon begin to descend into a Bleak House of a second half, as The Artful Dodger (Louis Suarez) and his accomplice Fagin (Daniel Sturridge) pick the pockets of their hosts relentlessly. 2-3 quickly becomes 2-4. At 2-5 it is very clear that Pip, the fresh-faced young Cardiff manager is out of his depth, and his team have found themselves deep in a truly Dickensian workhouse scenario, finding it increasingly difficult to extricate themselves from a perilous position in the relegation places in the Premier League. Jordan Mutch gets an unlikely third goal to give the largely silent home fans something to get passionate about. But, as the minutes of added on injury time ebb away another pocket is picked by The Artful Dodger. And the final score at ‘the beautiful game’…
3 v 6
My ‘perplexed companion‘ is left bewildered, as the home team rarely score 3 goals at home this season… now that they have achieved the feat it comes at the cost of double the number of goals conceded. Life can be strange, but for those that support Cardiff City FC football can be a kick in the teeth (frequently, it would seem). Until we speak again I am going to be Edwin Drood Juno, walking the streets of Cardiff in search of material for the unfinished story that is this blog.
[With thanks to those who provided google images that helped to illustrate this story].