We were last at Anfield to play Liverpool on October 31st 2007 in the Fourth Round of the Carling (League) Cup, losing 2-1. A crowd of 41,780 saw that game in which Darren Purse scored a cracker for us and Steven Gerrard turned on the style for the hosts.
Of course there was also that memorable encounter at Wembley on February 26th 2012, when following Ben Turner’s extra time equaliser and 120 long minutes played between the top six regular Premier League club and the then promotion chasing Championship side in Malky Mackay’s first year in charge, the cruelty of penalties denied what would have been a major upset as Liverpool lifted the Cup. Regardless, we left London with a great deal of pride on that day.
But our Premier League visit to Anfield on Saturday will be the first time that we have played them in league competition since the 1959/60 season, 54 years ago, when both clubs were in the old Second Division. We opened that season against them at Ninian Park when a 23,000 crowd saw us come back from a half-time 2-1 deficit to win 3-2. Newcomer Steve “Kalamazoo” Mokone, signed from Dutch club Heracles that summer, opened the scoring for us, but then two own-goals from our skipper Danny Malloy put us behind at the break. Graham Moore and new boy Johnny Watkins from Bristol City netted in the second half to give us victory.
The return at Anfield on December 19th 1959 was a memorable one. Bill Shankly had just been appointed as their manager from Huddersfield Town and this was his first game in charge, though he just holding a watching brief. Cardiff City won 4-0 in front of 27,791 with goals from Derek Tapscott (2), Watkins, and Joe Bonson. It was a nightmare afternoon for Liverpool full-back Ronnie Moran, later to join their coaching-staff. Our skilful ex-Arsenal winger Brian Walsh tormented him throughout the match, and Walsh never had a finer game for us.
We met Liverpool six times between 1957/58 and 1959/60 following our relegation from top level, and we won on five occasions! When they went up in 1961/62 we came down. Liverpool were in fact relegated from the old Division One at the end of 1953/54 as a result of our 1-0 win at Anfield on April 17th 1954.
Tommy Northcott scored our goal, and we ended the match with ten men after goalkeeper Ronnie Howells was taken off with a fractured thumb. There were no substitutes in those days, so our skipper and Welsh International full-back Alf Sherwood took over in goal as he had done on several occasions when required in previous seasons. He had an outstanding game between the posts, making several great saves including a double one from a Billy Liddell penalty!
Our first-ever visit to Anfield, on March 19th 1921, was not in fact to play Liverpool. It was an F.A. Cup semi-final and we played fellow Second Division side Wolves in a 0-0 draw seen by 40,892. Arriving at half-time were King George V and Queen Mary who had been to the Grand National that afternoon with their weekend host Lord Derby with whom they were staying at Knowsley Hall.
On their way back from Aintree, they called in at Anfield for the second half, and were acknowledged by both sides before the restart with three cheers. Their Majesties left shortly before the end, Queen Mary remarking to F.A. officials that she would have liked to have stayed until the final whistle!
1959/60 was not the only time that we did the “double” over Liverpool. In our near-miss Championship season of 1923/24, when teams played each other home and away in consecutive matches, we won 2-0 at Anfield on December 15th with goals from Jimmy Gill and Joe Clennell. And seven days later we won 2-0 at Ninian Park with two goals from Len Davies. And in that 1953/54 season when we relegated them with that 1-0 win at Anfield, we had beaten them 3-1 at Ninian Park the previous November.
Of the few players that have appeared for both clubs, Welsh International forward John Toshack was the most high profile. He joined Liverpool from ourselves on November 11th 1970 for a record ‘City fee of £110,000, and went on to achieve major honours with them. And way back in 1937/38 we signed two players from Liverpool – ex-England full-back Ernie Blenkinsop for £400 in November 1937, and the previous May we signed forward Jimmy Collins for a modest £1,500 – a bargain signing as it turned out because Collins scored many goals for us in his two full seasons before the start of World War Two.
When the Football League competition suspended peacetime activities after three matches of 1939/40, Collins had scored four times in our opening three games.
This Saturday’s 12:45pm televised match at Anfield marks the first of its kind since the formation of the Premier League, with our hosts currently on a rich run of form, in particular the free-scoring Luis Suárez.
It will be another tough test for Cardiff City on the road, but yet again, it’s why we’re here. Premier League trips such as this are there to be enjoyed, the squad seeing this as an opportunity to test themselves against a quality opponent in the quest for top flight points.