What happened last season?
It was all sadly predictable really - and I predicted it here last year…a rollercoaster ride courtesy of our wonderful owner, Mr Hammam. Trouble is, it was one of those rollercoasters where you go on a huge downhill bit, level out, and then…go on another huge downhill bit. That feeling where your stomach is in your mouth - it really did happen time and time again last season for the faithful at Ninian Park. Yes, Ninian Park - we're still eking out a miserable existence at that dunghill of a ground. Imagine yourself in a Dickensian period drama - dirty, grey, cold, wet, overflowing sewers - then throw in the smell of rotten burgers, onions, lukewarm Bovril and the nasty whiff of overpaid players underperforming, and financial shenanigans off the pitch, and the constant threat of relegation, administration and the disappearance of the club you've loved through thick but mainly thin over 5 different decades - and all this bovine scatology about new stadiums just to add a bit of spice to it all.
Do I really want to go through all the heartache of last season once more ? OK, I'll do it because I know 99.9% of my audience will enjoy it - no one likes Cardiff, do they ? So for all you sadists out there, here's a bit of fun reading ! Over the course of the season (and the first few weeks of the summer), we've lost ALL our best players ie. the ones that entertain, the ones you pay to come and watch do that one bit of skill, the ones that drive the team forward, score the goals, stop them at the other end - all gone. It started with our Zambian Prince, Rob Earnshaw, going to West Brom a couple of matches into the season, continued when our inspirational captain, Graham Kavanagh, got sold to Wigan seemingly in a couple of minutes at a critical point in the season, and has continued unabated through the summer with the disappearance of Danny Gabbidon, "Ginge" Collins, Peter Thorne and Jobi McAnuff. Lest too much crowing is heard about "expensive mercenaries we couldn't afford anyway" - half of these were local lads, bought up through our youth system, or bought as promising youngsters and developed by the club into international players. Gut wrenching stuff.
All of this in a cloud of lies (do I need to say allegedly here ?) from the club - we're not a selling club, Earnshaw will never go, the future of this club is Gabbidon, our home grown youngsters will never be sold, everything will be fine as soon as the new Stadium gets the go ahead….
Sad thing is, as any Wimbledon fan will tell us, all of this has been seen and heard before - the sooner football can bring in some sort of law to stop chancers and profiteers like Hammam coming and asset stripping clubs to line their own pockets, the sooner football can reach some sort of state of rationality. All we ask for as fan is a bit of stability, a bit of continuity - and a bit of peace of mind that our club may still be here in a week's time. Yes, it's nice to win things now and again, yes we have to have dreams - but we used to win things before Hammam, and we used to have dreams then as well. Getting relegated, losing, seeing the odd promising youngster being sold, moaning about price rises, being aghast at the inefficacy of "the management" is part and parcel of a football fan's lot - makes the good times seem all the sweeter. But being fed constant bulls droppings, and not knowing from one day to the next whether your club is going to be there next week, fire sales of anything that can't be nailed down and all pervading disillusionment and depression all round is surely a bit less than our blind loyalty deserves ?
So that's last season summed up neatly, what about the coming season ?
What's going to happen next season?
How ironic that a Cardiff fan is asked to write this for Watford fans in the main, when the latter would seem to be far better qualified to comment on the subject than the former ? OK, last season, we had Robert Page finally turn up at his home town club having been a Vicarage Road stalwart for years, though he only lasted a few months and a handful of games before moving on again - this season, we seem to have half of Watford's squad from last season here already (all the over thirties, anyway !)...so who am I to predict how these guys are likely to perform for us ??!! New Manager Dave Jones seems to be facing the prospect of a new season without all of last year's stars with a modicum of bravado, at least. As well as inheriting Ardley from the back end of last season, he's already taken Cox and Darlington from Watford. A "promising" 21 year old from Feyenoord, Glen Loovens, has also been signed on a season's loan, along with fee transfer Jeff Whitley from Sunderland. An 18 year old trialist from Parma, Milan Baros lookalike Andrea Ferrati, is currently knocking in goals for fun in the pre-season friendlies, and Jamie McCunnie (ex Ross County), and Phil Mulryne (latterly of Norwich) are also looking to impress the manager enough to earn contracts as well.
Looks as if we'll get a team out at least - not something that looked too likely a few weeks ago. How they go is anyone's guess - and whether we'll survive the season without going into administration even liquidation will probably be the thing which exercises most Cardiff fans over the coming months. A mixture of over thirties and "promising youngsters" will try to survive the season on the pitch - but sadly, the real battle will be off it. But we should be fine I forgot to mention that a few weeks ago we appointed Peter Ridsdale as Chief Exec. You know, the chap who did all that good work at Leeds. We're in safe hands, then.
The most I can hope for this season is that there's still a club for me to write about at this time next year. Do you ever get that dream about a rollercoaster which just keeps plunging, and just as you think it's about to plunge lower than low, you wake up ? Well, we really are living the dream in Cardiff !
Soundbites(from assorted census correspondents)
"I think I've been following Cardiff for too long - my answers have become strangely sensible ths year..... why no Southampton/ Sir Clive Woodward questions ? Why no vote on whether his knighthood should be rescinded ? Why nothing on Ganguly, Pietersen or the Tour de France ? Do you think we all take football too lightly ? Have I been out in the sun too long ? Why me ?"
"Our stadium wont get built. Nobody wants to sign for us. We cant afford to sign anybody anyway. We are certs for relegation. Dont be too suprised if we are in administration within 12 months...
Oh... and i'm a bit of a pessimist"
"Kippers will not inherit the earth unless they design a mode of transport consisting of only a box of drawing pins, 3 rubber chickens and a gallon of diesel/cous cous compound."
"My nans BEEF dinners are really nice, i'm having one on Sunday. She's good with cabbage too."
"If Jessica Fletcher- of 'Murder She Wrote' fame- comes knocking on your door, slam it in her face and hide until she goes away. Death follows that woman around!"
"Neil Ardley is brill."
"Cardiff City should be the best team in the world if it wasn't for the crazy spending antics of Lennie Lawrence with Sam Hammams money,(its not his fault) Thanks!!!!!"
"Adi Dassler for King (if he's excavated)"
"With a new manager and our squad changing as I type, many of my CCFC related answers may be completely different when the season starts (sound familiar?). Rumours of a club name change to Watford Retirement Athletic are unfounded."
"I like jam, but I don't like the methods Stalin used to control the Soviet Union. I'm sure you feel the same about jam & Stalin."
"When sitting at box office at the cinema it is intensely irritating to be asked "What's on next?", particularly if there are massive screens behind you displaying the times of all the films on that day. Don't do it. "