So, what did we learn?

 

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?

Tiring day at the office

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.

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Vanishing Point

The Premier League season comes to its closing day, and just as architectural designs disappear to the horizon at the vanishing point so my resident ‘delusional desperado’ is about to disappear up their own passageway of dreams. They join the local tribe of dedicated panhandlers for the final time in their current Premier League existence, patiently wading through oceans of guano in the hope of the occasional pearl-laden oyster. But it is only the dark clouds rolling in that offer a genuine backdrop to the final contest. But even this final fight is more of a vanishing point, as two pugilists step into the ring for an event without a purpose, other than fulfilling a pre-determined contract. The home team are already relegated, and the away team end a season with their own disappointment of not being able to win anything.

  V.  

The locals persistently question the colour of the corners, but on this occasion the reality is that in the red corner we have ‘The Baby Faced Assassin‘ and in the blue corner we have ‘The Special One‘, as Ole visibly ageing and Jose progressively greying square up for hopefully anything but handbags at 10 paces…

   V.     

The potential pre-match hype stirred up by a street-fighting Mourinho, if his team had a heavyweight title depending on the contest, is all but missing. Snarls are replaced by the anodyne smiles of combatants with minds more firmly fixed on a summer of business in preparation for fights to be won in the future. If there is any real match day animosity it is all in the home camp as the fans make it very clear to the owner ‘they will always be blue’:

City v Chelsea [1]

The bell sounds for the first round, it is 3.00pm on a Sunday afternoon, and the home pugilists look deep down to their boots for some inspiration for the fight ahead:

City v Chelsea [2]Is this to be the mis-match of the century, as the heavyweights from the capital of England dominate the ring of the lightweights of the capital of Wales. The visitors certainly begin fleet of foot as they dance around the ring constantly probing for the opening to land a decisive punch. However, underestimate the lighter opponents at your peril, as on 15 minutes the Chelsea defence is opened up with a Craig Bellamy shot that produces a classic sucker punch as it deflects off a Chelsea defender to leave their last line of defence wrong-footed. A further 30 minutes of trading punches produces no further potential knockout blows. At the end of this round a shock is set up as the home fans witness a lead on points… Cardiff City 1 Chelsea 0.

The bell sounds for round two, but can the sleek arts of the pugilists recover against the early lead for the street-fighters?

City v Chelsea [4]The gulf in class is beginning to show as the delicate footwork of previous champions mesmerises their brave hosts. The home team cushion a few blows, and offer limited glimpses of the search for their own killer punch. On 72 minutes and 75 minutes the decisive combination of hook and upper-cut are applied, and the home fans are left on the floor. With the absence of Gary Medel, their iconic pitbull, they struggle to find the street-fighter spirit that would give them a chance of getting back into this match. The vanishing point duly arrives, as it is time to throw the towel in and slip off back to Championship football.

Final score of the final game of the season… Cardiff City 1 Chelsea 2.

My very own ‘little dot on the horizon’ arrives back with surprisingly measured temperament, but surely punch-drunk, as they evoke the spirit of many a defeated pugilist claiming that a comeback is on the cards, and it all starts here. Some people are just born masochists. Until we speak again I will be a Juno trying to discover what sense underpins the spending of billions of pounds on a few youngsters kicking a ball around a patch of grass.

[Some images have been gratefully borrowed from google images to illustrate the story, and are used with thanks to those who originally placed them].

 

 

Spin the wheel

Despite my vehement remonstrations my human ‘emotional roller-coaster‘ insists in hanging on to the hopey-changey thing. Just because their team managed to fluke a win away to Southampton last week doesn’t bear any relation to a swallows and summer vibe… I quietly suggest. As a less cool cat than me once said: “It’s the hope that will kill you… in the end.” So it’s the ‘turn’ of The Potters from Stoke City FC to roll into town to torment the local faithfuls at the Cardiff City Stadium. ‘Turn’… potters… get it!? I guess I just can’t suppress that cool creative streak on these auspicious occasions.

I am guessing that the visiting artisans will be arriving with kilns all fired up, ready to apply the heat to any unsuspecting Purple Dragonbirds. And with recent appallingly bad home form, and a season drawing rapidly to a close, it is time the locals took some advice from George Michael… get spinning the wheel. This is shaping up to be a bull in a china shop affair, with plenty of crockery throwing between less than friendly rivals. Stoke City bring a quick return to the Cardiff City Stadium for Peter Odemwingie, who managed a less than auspicious few months in a Cardiff shirt, but seems to be a reborn goalscorer and provider since arriving in the potteries. We also have yet another Welshman managing a Premier League team with aspirations to put a further wobble in the Cardiff City FC pot spinning abilities… but what better incentive for the local deluded dreamers than a good motto:

It is 3.00pm on a Saturday afternoon, and the teams line up…

City v Stoke [1]

… but the question in the minds of all cultured fans is whether they will be witnessing an array of Wedgwoods and Royal Doultons, with a holding midfield of Burgess & Leigh and William Brownfield, Spode & Copeland out wide, with a front three of Toft, Minton and Moorcraft [they all happen to be makers of pottery by the way… nothing gets past this cat]. Alternatively, are the home team still staring down the pan of an Armitage Shanks or Twyfords? There will be no time for a return of the Porcelain Ponies that pitched up against the Palace on the last home outing… note: the word ‘played’ does not apply to that previous performance!

The home crowd need not worry, as the 5 changes to the last team witnessed in this hothouse don’t seem to possess the same feet of clay that their demoted team-mates offered. But for all the careful kneading of their trade they seem to be offering the same final product… a lack of stoneware in the form of goals. Then wouldn’t you know it; not a penalty seen in these parts all season, but suddenly deep into added on time at the end of the first half the referee (aka everyone’s favourite guy… not!) sees things that nobody else seems to see. One converted penalty later and half-time arrives: Cardiff City 0 Stoke City 1, and suddenly the home fans are desperately searching for the inspiration to fix their shattered pot.

   As the second half begins the sunshine of 3.00pm has dissipated as the home team face the need to fire up their season or find they get rapidly fired out of the league.

City v Stoke [2]

Within minutes of the restart an unexpected truth emerges as the ceramic arts serve up a new twist in a season that sends most heads spinning. You don’t see a Ming vase for ages and suddenly two arrive within minutes of each other…

    a Stoke penalty on 46 minutes, then…

… a Cardiff penalty on 49 minutes      and Peter Whittingham doesn’t give up rare chances like these:

City v Stoke [3]

Suddenly the home team are all fired up, and even manage to score a disallowed goal shortly after. But as both teams labour away at their craft the minutes ebb away towards the draw that does little to disturb Stoke City’s middle table safe season, but does very little for the home fans still languishing in the basement showroom. Passionate Bluebirds are left broken and dispirited by a score that reads:

   1 – 1   

As the season draws towards its inevitable close the spinning of each wheel becomes more anxiously watched… it is a time of the year when art slides away as mathematics takes over. Three points from safety with three more games left to play, and the only remaining home game is against one of the contenders for the title. So until we speak again I am a Juno talking in foreign tongues at home not to let the hyper-one get the drift of my prophecies… as they say in France: je ne pas une pot chambre pissoire… or words to that effect! Sting puts it succinctly on his The Last Ship album: “When he’d hardly got two halfpennies left, or a broken pot to piss in?”

[This post includes a few Google images to illustrate points made, used with thanks to the original providers]

Shootout at the KO Corral

Tombstone, Arizona relocates to Cardiff, South Wales for 90 minutes as the infamous 3.00pm shootout is reprised by a bunch of misfiring Premier League gunslingers at the Cardiff City Stadium. With a Marshall as the last line of defence Cardiff City FC are looking to put the visiting Eagles on the road to Boot Hill. Scoring three goals in each of their last two games the home team are shaping up more as Earps rather than the mis-firing twerps of the previous few months. Crystal Palace FC travel to the wild west, but who is going to need a Doc, and who will be looking to a Premier League survival Holliday?

This is a shootout between two of the teams who drifted into Premier League town this season, and both have been eyed up and carefully measured by the local undertaker as favourites to be driven back out of town, one way or another. My ‘resident outlaw‘ despairs at a situation where the Eagles are five points ahead of the Bluebirds as they shape up to face each other at either end of the corral.

City v Palace [1]

“It’s a crime that a team so far behind us at the end of last season, and so far behind us earlier in this season, are now ahead of us entering this gunfight” says the disgruntled one. But the previously floundering Eagles arrive with a new backbone of former Cardiff cowboys, and a former supporter in Tony Pulis as head outlaw.

For 30 minutes there is a distinct impression around the onlookers that they are witnessing a contest of firing blanks, then a poor spectacle is briefly illuminated by an unexpected Crystal Palace goal.

Half-time arrives with Eagles soaring…       

Cardiff City 0 Crystal Palace 1.

 

Taking the roof off

With the second half about to start, the questions are largely about the tactics of the home team, can they make home advantage work and get their supporters to raise the roof? They seem to be getting some help from other sources…

City v Palace [3]

The home team hardly seem to have had any injection of urgency, with their Colt 45’s functioning more as water pistols. Without any great exertions the away team score a second goal inevitably by one of their old boys, so celebrations on the pitch take the now ridiculous customary mute tone as some fake demonstration of respect for scoring against a team they used to score for.

The Cardiff sheriff makes some changes to personnel, but onlookers are muttering something about too little too late. Then the killer blow as Crystal Palace score a wonder goal out of nothing. Cue a mass exodus by home fans, and the now customary chant from away fans that are in a clear winning advantage… “Is there a fire drill?” The final score is wildly celebrated by the away fans, as the home fans make their funereal march home…

        0 v 3      

There is no doubt that if the Earps and Holliday combo of 1881 had performed anything like the home team today that Boot Hill cemetery in Tombstone would be welcoming different corpses. In the meantime, my ‘deadbeat supporter‘ accepts that suicide would be getting off lightly, and the only sentence for a current supporter of Cardiff City is to keep watching them! Until we speak again I will be Juno trying not to taunt Wyatt Twerp with a slow goodbye to Premier League football in this household.

[Some of the images have been downloaded from google images, with thanks to the suppliers for their contribution to the making of this story].

Bleak House

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:

Pierhead Building     V.              

 

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…

City v Liverpool [1]

… 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…

City v Liverpool [3]Rumour has it that Bill Sikes is trying out new disguises in order to camouflage his misdemeanours in the locality…

  

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 LeagueJordan 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].

Battle of the basement

My resident ‘exaggerator general‘ is talking up the enormity of today’s encounter at the Cardiff City Stadium, but I can barely raise a paw from my eyes at the prospect of the Battle of the Basement, as the Premier League’s two worst teams go head-to-head in the rush to relegation. With the two worst defensive records, and two of the worst scoring records I await nothing short of a comedy of errors to be reported back to me after the match from the ‘gullible one‘, who has even gone as far as to renew a season ticket. I am secretly trying not to offer congratulations for grabbing a bargain, as relegation means 4 extra games for the same price… I must keep remembering it is so easy to mock the afflicted!

I hear they are extending the capacity of the stadium, yet one glimpse into my food bowl of fortune tells me that the crowds will be hard to come by…

If you are into gambling I suggest you should have more confidence in a four-month long Welsh heatwave starting today, with record temperatures in the upper 30 degrees, than the arrival of Fulham FC sparking any heat into this encounter. Even with their tradition of the comedian Tommy Trinder being a life long fan (and former club Chairman) there is nothing in their recent history to suggest Fulham are going to raise the spirits…

  One look at their line-up of managers so far this season does little to tempt me to roll over for a tummy tickle! I thought I heared something on the radio about ‘Felix the Cat’ being this week’s manager at Fulham Football Club, but my ‘fount of all things unnecessary‘ tells me it is a German guy called Felix Magath. Oh well, football is a strange game, so I am told. But, whoever came up with that one hasn’t watched cricket, I say!

City v Fulham [1]

It’s 3.00p.m. on a sunny Saturday at the Cardiff City Stadium, with all the home fans desperately hoping some of those rays inspire a long lost performance out of their team. Get strapped in, this could be a roller-coaster of a yawn; 90 minutes can be a long time when you are stuck in a seat watching loads of blades of grass grow.

Much running and sliding, and general kicking about goes on for 45 minutes. As expected of the two teams propping up all of the others, little resembling a chance of goal scoring is happening. 0-0 as the half-time whistle approaches, but one further minute of added time comes up on the stadium big screens. Many of the home fans are wondering what a goal is… it is reaching a point where they begin to claim to have heard about them but not seen their team score one for so long… “days of the dinosaurs” may even get muttered in the same sentance as the last Cardiff City goal. But then, with the last kick of the half (and many fans already queueing for their exorbitantly priced tat passing as refreshment beneath the stands) up steps Captain Caulker to slot home from a few yards out. The mystery of the Cardiff City Stadium goal is banished as the home team go off the pitch to the applause of their fans… Cardiff City 1 Fulham 0. A cat’s eye view of the goal (with thanks to Mail Online):

Back of the net: Caulker broke the deadlock for Cardiff in first-half injury time

Dare the locals dream… the second half is about to kick-off in this game where it is widely acknowledged that the loser is likely to be doomed to relegation.

City v Fulham [2]

The half begins with more of the same fare experienced for most of the earlier 45 minutes. Not exactly igniting the passions, and then the inevitable happens as the home team go on the retreat, against the demands of some of their baying fans, and Fulham score to level the match at 1-1. Deep from the inevitable footballing cliche machine comes the murmuring of the stadium sages… “a draw helps neither team”. But, uncharacteristically for this field of dreams, a 12 minute spell of productive activity ensues, and with the help of Captain Caulker again, and a comedy of errors in the Fulham defence, Cardiff City find themselves in uncharted Premier League waters at 3-1 to the good.

Anything could now be possible in the weirdly distorted mind of my ‘biased reporter‘; “don’t be so stupid, this is Cardiff City, not Barcelona” I suggest. And, with a cat’s level of footballing knowledge, I take a bow for my superiority in all matters. Whatever the fans shout, this is Cardiff in the Premier League, and they just can’t help themselves… they have this strange habit of running backwards, making even poor or mediocre teams like Fulham (or Sunderland, Norwich, and West Bromwich Albion) to temporarily look good! This is clearly a team that defy all logic. If playing an attacking style pressing forward puts you into a 3-1 lead, what genius has told them that they should now all run backwards and play just back in their own half? You don’t need a degree in mathematics or statistics to read the league table and see this is a team who manifestly fail at trying to defend a lead.

Mesmerising, majestic, out-of-this-world, scintillating… these are all words overly used in football descriptions, but today you will have to be somewhere else to find them. However short on superlatives, those rays of sunshine do manage to bathe the home crowd with something more than just luck… for today they are playing Fulham, a team even more inept at putting the ball in the back of the net than the home team. The final whistle arrives to bring the curtain down on a score to lift Welsh hearts… Cardiff City Bluebirds 3 Fulham Lame Ducks 1.

I guess I will have to listen to ‘exaggerator general‘ pontificating about hope, and a bright new horizon, while I resist the temptation to spike the balloon with a reality check. If Felix the Cat is still in a job next season, in a club that have taken the term ‘Manager of the Month‘ to a newly ridiculous level, will he be seen in these parts again? Until we speak again I am going to be a sun-seeking Juno, trying to avoid casting around the dark clouds that still engulf a team saddled with a clueless owner…

… with an over developed sense of self-importance.

[Most of the images are borrowed from Google images to illustrate the story, with thanks to those who posted them originally].

It’s a name-changer

I am losing count of the number of times my sleep pattern is being interrupted by some inane football comments on the TV. It is my guess that if you place all of the footballing cliches end-to-end you still would not get anywhere near the land of common sense. Commentators, pundits and general all-round-idiots, who have nothing better to do in life than talk about things they were never any good at themselves, like to identify ‘game-changers’. Such-and-such a player is a game-changer, the manager’s next substitution needs to be a game-changer, the referee’s decision was a game-changer.

As yet another weekend of wall-to-wall TV and radio football punditry and commentaries arrives I was contemplating the benefits of hibernation that so many smaller mammals seem to go in for while much of the football season is on. Then, with my usual easy-going languid effortless creative self (with the help of the Life of Pi DVD advert) I chanced upon a true game-changer… get some Tigers on the pitch! Get back to some wholesome Roman sporting spectacle to keep everyone awake.

   My ‘football evangelist‘ is uncharacteristically quick to say this is exactly what is happening at the Cardiff City Stadium today. It’s the arrival of fellow promoted hopefuls, Hull City, or is that Hull Tigers? Seems to me that it is the battle of the ‘Name-Changers’… is this City v City or are we talking Dragons v Tigers? Who knows what your team is supposed to be called when the true match is the battle of the owners billions fuelling total disregard for the history or passion close to the hearts of true fans?

My ‘delusional optimist‘ has constantly gone on about how Hull are one of the teams that will finish the season below Cardiff. The only failing in their logic is the fact that Hull have been above Cardiff in every week of the season so far… but what does a superior cat like me really understand about the simplicities of the peoples’ game? From what I hear this is a battle between two teams that find it relatively difficult to score goals… which, as far as I am aware, are game-changers! The anxious local crowd are hoping the tigers roar is going to be little more than a whimper:

It’s 3.00pm on a game-changer Saturday afternoon, so let the confusion begin… guess from the picture who the Bluebirds are? Yes, the team in red. As for Tigers, when did they come in a blue variety?

City v Hull [1]The first half progresses with a series of attacks from the home team, but unfortunately ‘Puff the Magic Dragon‘ seems to have brought along his mate ‘Huff‘, and also seems to have mislaid the ‘Magic‘ bit somewhere. As for the Tigers, as cliches go they seem to be playing within themselves… sounds anatomically strange to me, but that’s what the aficionados of footballing nonsense like to say when they haven’t got anything exciting to say about a team. The real action takes place off the pitch, as both sets of rival fans form a vocal connection: “Stand up for your history” rings out as a collective middle finger to both clubs owners. It seems that very few present are interested in the concept of the ‘name-changer’!

Then suddenly along come two chances and the Tigers score two goals…  cue mass depression across the majority of the ground, as most of the home fans become so disoriented they are drifting away for half-time refreshment 10 minutes before official half-time.

City v Hull [2]As the second half begins the home fans calls for desperate measures are partially answered, as one over-paid lazy git is replaced by a young upstart from the new manager’s native Norway. However, the much used cliche that football is a game of two halves takes on a strangely unexpected twist… all present have been duped into the deja vu world of watching one half, but twice! ‘Huff and Puff‘ continue their wearisome double act, while the roar of the tiger makes itself known infrequently, but ever so loudly for the comfort of the home crowd. Another two goals for the away team acts as a reminder to about 10,000 of the home fans that this was a day they promised to be home early. 20 minutes to go and the magic trick arrives… a football stadium turns instantly into a library, only slightly interrupted by joyous sounds from the relatively small numbers of travelling away fans.

My ‘in-house statistician‘ returns head bowed, mumbling something about having the higher amount of possession, corners, shots on and off target; with uncomplimentary references to ‘them’… after all, this was one of those teams that ‘delusional optimist‘ remained adamant would finish below the ‘Mighty Purple Dragonbirds‘ or whatever they are called. I guess I don’t help the depression levels with my addition to our statistical interlude… “I believe another cliche in the beautiful game is that only one statistic counts in the end”, and on this occasion it reads:

  ‘Whatever they are called dragons’ NIL

v.

 

    ‘Who are they tigers’ FOUR

It looks very much to me like it is going to be check all ligature points, and hide the belts and laces week, again! Until we speak again I am Juno, advising local people to shift allegiances to the Welsh national rugby team.

[Some of the images in this post are taken from google images with thanks, as they helped to illustrate key points being made].