It used to be that with just under a week to go, I would be totally distracted by the start of the football season. My Dad still talks about his frustration at seeing me nonchalantly acknowledge the various historical landmarks of our summer holidays abroad yet when the plane would fly over West London on our descent back to UK soil, my brother and I would be delirious at the sight of The Madjeski Stadium or Griffin Park from the window, usually I’d know the exact dates of when Cardiff, the club with whom I was a season ticket holder for nearly 15 years were visiting.
Until the summer of 2012, Cardiff City were a huge part of my life, I had only been working for a couple of years after leaving Uni and a ridiculous proportion of my meager salary went on tickets and travel to see The City home and away. Luckily, living in London, any travel costs were subsidised by the 1927 Club, a supporters club for fans in London and the South East. Within months of our chairman Vincent Tan announcing he was changing the colours from blue to red, the supporters club disbanded and myself, along with fans that had supported the club long before I was born suddenly no longer felt the urge to keep going. As if someone had turned the lights on at the end of a film at the cinema and you suddenly remember the last 2 hours never happened. The ‘rebranding’ transformed the club that had been passed down through generations of my family was in an instant unrecognisable and altered a relationship I’d been in since I was 7 years old, without any explanation, or consultation.
In January this year, after a large number of fans, sizeable enough for it to make a serious dent in the club’s income, stopped going to watch us play, Vincent Tan, quoting JFK and his own mother in his bizarre press statement announced we’d be returning to blue. Whilst this was obviously hugely welcome news to anyone with more than 2 years association with Cardiff, the fact that the club ironically started to shove ‘Blue Till I Die’ down our throats and embrace fan culture as if they hadn’t completely ignored it for the last 2 and a half seasons made even that taste a little sour.
Nevertheless, Cardiff City are back in blue for the start of the 2015/2016 season. Last season the fans indifference in the stands was only mirrored by that of the players on the pitch, and as such we had only sold 10,000 season tickets to fill our 27,000 all-seater stadium until we announced that Adidas would provide our kit for the coming season. Who knows, perhaps if we’d had a decent shirt for all those seasons people wouldn’t have cared what colour it was?! The new partnership worked and we shifted an extra 2,000 season tickets and there has been a definite rise in people’s moods since. Funnily enough, our ridiculous red seated stadium extension, completed 12 months ago when we hosted the UEFA Super Cup won’t be open for the coming season and will sit there as a morbid reminder of what delusional football chairmen like Vincent Tan are capable of. However, attendances are sure to be higher than they were last time around. Fans are still weary of Tan though, not to mention our debt to him that runs into the hundreds of millions of pounds, and here are no guarantees that if the team starts playing well again he won’t change our colours back to red, secure in the knowledge that our fans will still fork out to come and watch a winning team.
From what little I’ve followed our progress over the last 12 months, I can gather that we don’t have a particularly inspiring squad this season, which only reflects our budget-manager Russell Slade. Threatened with the sack at Leyton Orient in League One after a comically bad run of form at the start of last season, he was of course brought in to manage us a division higher. The results under his management were just as everyone predicted, given that we still had a number of players who’d took us up two seasons before we were too good to go down, but given the extent to which everyone at the club had stopped caring, we were too shite to be in danger of going up!
Pre-season investment this summer hasn’t extended much beyond a season long loan move for Sammi Abeobi from Newcastle, and sorry if I sound pessimistic but given that my mate who’s a Newcastle supporter referred to him as ‘the shit Ameobi’, I don’t know if he’s going to be the 30 goal a season man we need…
Ultimately, as with all football fans, now is the most optimistic time of the year, and I fully intend to give Slade and what’s left of our squad from our miserable year in the Premiership the benefit of the doubt. The fact we were never any good hasn’t bothered me in the past, as long as it’s my club, and even if I would rather put a pair of Russell Slade’s pants in my mouth than have Vincent Tan anywhere near the club, I will admit some of the wounds from his ownership have been healed.
Onwards and upwards!...