Sharing my home with a dumb animal has some perks, but listening to insane optimism from an inevitably delusional fan about a failure of a football season is not one of them. So I thought I would put the story straight by offering you selected excerpts of my incisive reportage on the plight of the local colour-conflicted Purple Dragonbirds season in the Premier League. If you like football look away now, and if you don’t… read on. What did we learn, and who really cares?
Manchester City (25/8/13) “A football stadium on match day is really just a bunch of overweight folk sat on their arses telling a bunch of fit blokes how to play the game.” There is nothing like a great start to a season to get the lardy types ramping up expectations, and with a 3-2 win for the home team against the mega-wealth of the opposition you just have to look at the final places at the end of the season to get a sense of perspective (Man City are champions, and Cardiff City finish bottom!).
Everton (1/9/13) With a foul inside the penalty area there are conflicting views of whether there should have been a penalty awarded to Everton. “A true football fan sees what they want to see, not necessarily what really happened.”
Tottenham Hotspur (22/9/13) “Many players have now come to believe the hype that they are delicate thoroughbreds who, despite their obscene wealth, still need a week off to rest if they have played two matches a week for successive weeks.” The amount of money in the game is beginning to make Monopoly look like a franchise for paupers.
Newcastle United (5/10/13) “A football crowd often resembles 90 minutes brimful of inane shouting and chanting dressed up as collective banter.” But football has its moments, times when the bizarre attempts to pass itself off for normality, as when the world famous Treorchy Male Voice Choir sing Blaydon Races from the half-time pitchside to the travelling Geordie supporters.
Swansea City (3/11/13) Billed as the first South Wales Premier League derby this match resembled more of The Rest of the World v Spain. “The beautiful game arrives in the form of the ‘lovely ugly town’ to be played out in front of 27,000+ magnificently mindless people who don’t quite get how world-definingly meaningless this event is to all but the supporters of each club.”
Manchester United (24/11/13) “The new default position is one of: if brushed by a breath of air go immediately to ground as if felled by a sledgehammer.” Since the turn of the century the once revered Newton Health (Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway) FC have succumbed to European trade descriptions for the game, and are now occasionally known as the Trafford Park Diving Club, noted more for the tuck and pike movements of some of their overpaid individuals, a somewhat balletic and artistically horizontal game plan disparagingly referred to as cheating by opposing fans.
Arsenal (30/11/13) “The visitors have expanded their reputation from one of ‘petit France’ to a more UKIP offending pan-European blend of team, but as with most European institutions the style can tend towards the over-elaborate with an emphasis on process sometimes to the detriment of the end product.” The locals do love a humble returning son, so Aaron Ramsey gets the rare accolade of a standing ovation on his return to his original club, and further applause for scoring against them. Uncharacteristically, their manager, Arsene Wenger, saw that (a football insiders joke).
West Bromwich Albion (14/12/13) “With christmas looming ever closer the ghosts of Premier Past, Premier Present and Premier Future align to offer difficult omens for the local’s hero Malky Mackay, particularly as a Jacob Marley-like image imposes itself over the stadium. Or is it just Vincent Tan preparing to give Malky an internal examination?”
Southampton (26/12/13) A match mired in off the field on-going disputes between club owner and team manager promises little in the way of christmas spirit. “Ultimately what emerges is nothing more than a megalomaniac-inspired, finance-confused, football knowledge free-zone, pantomime of farcical proportions. The ragged band who make up the local team seem as clear in their style of play as the club and fans do about agreeing on the team’s shirt colour.”
Sunderland (28/12/13) When a team is devoid of confidence they even contrive to throw away a 2-0 lead when they have dominated the opposition. As the cliche goes, ‘the game is not over until the final whistle’. “The Oompa Loompa from Kuala Lumpur might just be the son of satan, but one thing is for sure, football fans have very little sense of perspective when it comes to reflecting on their own team.”
West Ham United (11/1/14) I must admit I fell off my throne laughing when I heard my original local team, West Ham, are moving into the Olympic Stadium soon; a triumph of ambition over ability if I have ever heard of one. Meanwhile, back at the local ranch the new regime replaces the old as Ole takes over from Malky, and it’s the inevitable “kiss the badge time” for several existing players who should have been fighting harder, and new players who find themselves here despite never having any previous ambition to be a Cardiff City player. “Nothing like false claims of loyalty for fooling the mindless horde into accepting you!”
Norwich City (1/2/14) A match between two teams who have completely lost the habit of scoring goals; and in the world of football cliches “it’s goals that win games”, so I am told. “This is a game that promises to ramp up the levels of boredom to new heights, and likely to provide as much excitement as watching a canary choking to death in a coalmine.” It finishes as a 2-1 home win, so that shows you how much I know when it comes to predictions.
Aston Villa (12/2/14) “It’s 7.45pm on a wet Tuesday night in February; welcome to the grim, the battered and the ugly!” Estate Agents would no doubt be hyping up the levels of exaggeration around this being a stormy battle between two teams desperate for three points. The reality is a becalming Basement Flat 0 Underwhelming Villa 0. Seems like Estate Agents might have as much knowledge as this cool cat when it comes to the predictions game.
Hull City (22/2/14) “If you put all of the footballing cliches end-to-end you would still not get anywhere near the land of common sense.” Far from being blessed with the notorious game changing players or moves, this is more the battle of the ‘name-changers’, as respective owners earn nothing but a bucket of bile from their fans for daring to suggest that history be ditched in favour American sports team style names. I am losing count of the number of ways that money trumps any source of common sense in this game.
Fulham (8/3/14) “The Premier League’s two worst teams go head-to-head in a rush for relegation. Football can be a funny game, but whoever came up with that one hasn’t watched cricket!” My prediction was that this would be a roller-coaster of a yawn in which 90 minutes can be a long time when you are sat watching grass grow. “Mesmerising, majestic, out-of-this-world, scintillating… these are all words that belong somewhere else, but surprisingly the home team conjured up a 3-1 win.”
Liverpool (22/3/14) “The Beautiful Game Tour (aka Liverpool FC) rolls into Cardiff City’s home (aka Bleak House). In true Dickensian vernacular the home fans still hold on to Great Expectations, but this is a Tale of Two Cities right out of The Old Curiosity Shop, and the home team will surely find nothing but Hard Times, as they perilously march towards Marshalsea Debtors Prison.” Despite a deserving 1-0 and 2-1 lead the home team succumb to a 6-3 defeat.
Crystal Palace (5/4/14) A battle of two recently promoted teams should present a re-staging of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, but who will win the shoot-out and will the loser have one foot on Boot Hill? When an Eagle tangles with a Bluebird only one result should be expected. Unluckily for the home team that is the way this match also went, with nothing but blue feathers spat out. In the words of the Coen Brothers “If this isn’t a mess it will do until the mess gets here.”
Stoke City(19/4/14) “My human ’emotional roller-coaster’ insists in hanging on to the hopey-changey thing following a fluke away win the previous week, but I unhelpfully suggest this bears no relation to a swallows and summer vibe.” Confiscating the belts and laces might be needed in preparation for suicide watch. At least the one with more money than sense might well be getting an extra four matches for the already purchased season ticket for next year (24 clubs in the division below, as opposed to 20 in the Premier League).
Chelsea(11/5/14) “The Premier League season comes to its closing game, and just as architectural designs disappear to the horizon at their vanishing point, so it is time for my delusional desperado to disappear up their own passageway of dreams.” Unfortunately my very own little dot on the horizon is talking the defeated pugilists talk of instant comebacks. Some people (and most football fans) are just born masochists!
So, that was it… a season in the Premier League in which Cardiff City FC came, they saw, and they were conquered. Early season promise under the guidance of the God-like Malky Mackay only gave way to a flatlining league position for the majority of the second half of the season, under the overall guidance of a clueless megalomaniac with plenty of what counts… money, and nothing of what should count… knowledge of the game and passion for the local team. All this new talk about the excitement of another Championship campaign leaves me ecstatic with delight. So, until we speak again I shall be a thoroughly overwhelmed Juno.