The kick off time for the Fifth Round tie at Cardiff City has been finalised; it will go ahead at 3pm as planned. Tickets will go on sale this Saturday and if I get in there quick it should be all systems go for game number thirteen. I'll set my alarm for early Saturday morning...
As I mentioned in a previous post, this will be my first visit to Ninian Park. By way of an introduction to Cardiff City FC, here are a few facts about the club. Some you probably already know and others you probably know as well.
What's in a name? > Cardiff City started out in life (1899) as Riverside AFC with the newly formed team providing a winter activity for the local cricket club. In 1908 they became Cardiff City. Their name was very nearly changed in 2000 when Sam Hamman took over ownership of the club. He wanted to change the name to "The Cardiff Celts" but was persuaded otherwise by players and fans alike. Cardiff City Association Football Club in Welsh is Clwb Pêl-droed Dinas Caerdydd. The club's nickname is The Bluebirds.
The FA Cup > 1927. The year that Cardiff City won the FA Cup. Upon beating Arsenal 1-0 in the final, Cardiff City became the only non-English side to win the famous competition. The quizmaster's cliché. The single goal was an unfortunate fumble from the Arsenal goalkeeper Dan Lewis after a speculative shot from Ferguson. Lewis was a Welsh international. 1927, a year that will forever be associated with the club from the Welsh capital. They say that if you find a credit card at Ninian Park you would have a good chance of guessing the PIN number.
Silverware > Cardiff City (as I write this) sit in 9th position in the Championship, a couple of points outside of the play-off zone and equal on points with Wolves. Their highest league finish was in 1923-24 when they were pipped to the First Division title by Huddersfield Town on the last day of the season, losing out on a goal average of 0.024, the narrowest ever margin between first and second places in the top flight. Cardiff won the Division Three title in 1947 (then the Division Three South) and in 1993. They were Division Four runners-up in 1988 and were Division Two play-off winners in 2003. They have lifted the Welsh FA Cup an impressive twenty two times, most recently in 1993.
European nights > The Welsh FA Cup winners used to have a route into Europe, although in recent times UEFA have closed the door on this particular entrance. Having been so successful in the Welsh Cup, Cardiff City regularly qualified for the old European Cup Winner's Cup. They qualified a record five times between 1967-68 and 1971-72. Their best season in Europe came in 1968 when they reached the semi final. Cardiff shocked the footballing world by knocking out Shamrock Rovers, NAC Breda and Moscow Torpedo on route to the last four. Hamburg put paid to Cardiff's dreams winning 3-2 at Ninian Park after Cardiff had earned a magnificent 1-1 draw in Germany in the first leg. But Cardiff's biggest European night occurred in March 1971 when, in front of over 47,000 at Ninian Park, Cardiff City beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the quarter final. The Spanish giants won the return leg 2-0 at the Bernabeu.
Home from home > Cardiff City currently play at Ninian Park which has a capacity of a little over 22,000. Stanley Matthews made his England international debut at Ninian Park in 1934; the record attendance for the ground was in 1959 when Wales played England in front of a 62,634 crowd. The early homes for Cardiff City were Riverside, Sophia Gardens and Old Park before the move to Ninian Park in 1910. However, Ninian Park will not be Cardiff's home for much longer; a new 25,000 seater stadium is currently being built on the site of the old Cardiff Athletics Stadium. Completion is planned for December 2008.
Players > Famous players to have turned out for The Bluebirds include John Charles, Len Davies (most goals for the club, 128), Phil Dwyer (most league appearances, 471) Jason Koumas, Russell Osman, Kevin Ratcliffe and John Toshack. Big names in the current squad include Robbie Fowler and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Managers > Dave Jones took charge of Cardiff in 2005 after leaving Wolves. Former notable managers include Fred Stewart, Jimmy Scoular, Eddie May (twice), Terry Yorath, Frank Burrows (twice), Russell Osman and Bobby Gould.
And one final morsel. When Cardiff City won the FA Cup in 1927, their route to Wembley took them via Molineux where the semi final was played. I'm sure The Bluebirds would relish a long awaited return to Wembley and what are the odds of the Fifth Round tie having to be settled in a replay at Molineux?
And the last time Cardiff City progressed to the quarter finals of the FA Cup?