🕵️‍♂️ Football League Focus: Cardiff City

Logo: OneFootball


Alex Mott

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Welcome to our latest series here at OneFootball where we’ll be shining a light on one Football League club each week.

It’s our chance to go in-depth on sides that don’t normally attract our attention and hold up a magnifying glass to the plethora of brilliant stories outside the Premier League.

Welcome to Football League Focus. First up, is Cardiff City.

Can you tell me a bit about the club?

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Formed in 1899, Cardiff City have been a sleeping giant of British football for the best part of a century.

Still the only side from outside England to have won the FA Cup – that was in 1927 – the Bluebirds have been spent most of their existence bouncing between the third and second tiers of the football pyramid.

Between 1921 and 1929 they were arguably the best side in Britain but returned to the top-flight for the first time in half a century in 2013 after investment from Malaysian millionaire Vincent Tan and the stewardship of since disgraced manager Malky Mackay.

It’s been up and down since then – and red and blue – with two spells in the top flight and some added play-off heartbreak.

Any great moments from their history?

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That 1927 FA Cup final is comfortably the club’s crowning achievement and is a great coda to their greatest ever side, whilst the 1960s saw a brief return to the old First Division and European football come to Ninian Park.

Hamburg, Real Zaragoza and Torpedo Moscow travelled to South Wales but no talk of greatest Cardiff moments would be complete without mentioning their 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the Cup Winners’ Cup.

In recent years though it’s been more famine than feast. The 2003 Third Division play-off final stands out – Cardiff squeezing into sixth place on the last day and then beating QPR on a balmy day at the Millennium Stadium.

And then there was the 2012/13 Championship-winning side. Mackay’s men claimed the title by eight points in the end, netting a brilliant 72 goals on their way back to the top flight.

And surely there must be some lows as well?

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Well, 1985/86 was the start of a real nadir for the Bluebirds as they slid into the old Fourth Division and at one point struggled to get crowds of over 10,000 into Ninian Park.

Ten years of dross followed with 1995/96 being the bottom of the barrel as they finished in their lowest ever league position – 90th out of the 92 teams in the Football League.

Although a climb up the league was to follow, in 2000 Sam Hammam bought the club and controversially changed their name to the Cardiff Celts, imploring the “whole of Wales” to support the new side and changed their strip to green and white.

It went about as well as can be expected but that was just an entrée to the main course, as over a decade later new owner Vincent Tan decided that blue was an unlucky colour and so changed the home colours to red, and changed the club emblem from a bluebird to a dragon.

Thankfully, after just a year, things reverted back to normal.

Who are the club legends?

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Fred Keenor was the captain for the FA Cup final win and was honoured with a statue outside the club’s new Cardiff City Stadium.

Scott Young spent his entire 11-year playing career at Cardiff and scored the winner against Leeds in a famous 2001 FA Cup giant killing.

Peter Whittingham was a focal point of the side that returned to the Premier League and he became a cult hero in south Wales for his dedication to the Cardiff cause.

What about the current squad? Any players to look out for?

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It probably says a lot about this current Cardiff squad that the main man still is 31-year-old Lee Tomlin.

He may look like a hod carrier but the veteran forward has a touch of the Glenn Hoddle in his languid playing-style and directly contributed to 20 goals last season.

At the back, Curtis Nelson has been a colossus since his move from Oxford United and could well claim the attention of a few Premier League scouts with more impressive performances.

Is the manager any good?

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Neil Harris is never going to win any charisma contests but since joining from Millwall, the former striker has done a sterling job in steadying the ship at Cardiff.

In fact, his work taking the club into fifth place and the play-offs last time out was verging on the miraculous.

Finally, how are things looking this season?

It feels like there could be a slight regression to the mean this time around and a solid mid-table finish come May.

That may look like a slide down the division but with little investment in the squad and an owner that’s fond of making headlines for all the wrong reasons, a quiet solidity may be a blessed relief.