Club News

This week, we're launching our first mini-series taking a quirkier look at the history of our Football Club and the sport itself.

In this offering, media contributor Oliver Roderick looks at the ever-changing face of the game of football. We hope it conjures some memories for you of yesteryear!

The impending visit of Leeds United to Cardiff City Stadium on September 15th following the international break will mark what has become a collector's item to City fans and supporters of other clubs.

What was once a staple of every football fan's weekend, the Saturday afternoon 3 o'clock kick off - has been off the menu to City fans since way back on February 4th - when Ian Holloway's Blackpool side took the points in a match we all remember for featuring some of the heaviest snow seen in Wales in recent years! It was a miracle that it even went ahead (thanks to Phil Williams and his ground-staff for that one)!

So, by the time Leeds arrive at the CCS in just under a fortnight's time there will have been no Saturday afternoon kick-off for the Bluebirds' first team at CCS for two hundred and twenty-five days. That's over seven months!

Of course this can be seen in one of two ways. While some may lament the loss of routine, others will point to the fact that most of the games are generally moved so as to be broadcast on live television, thus generating all kinds of income for the club and also an important platform from which to showcase Cardiff City to the world.

Some may be unaware of this, but it is a rule that all games which kick off at 3pm on a Saturday, often seen as the traditional British kick-off time, may not be broadcast live on television. The idea for this is to try and ensure that attendances at lower league games are not harmed as a result of a high-profile game being shown at the same time. It makes sense.

With the 3 o'clock kick-off now seeming to be on the decline, let's take a look at some of the other parts of the game, once considered traditions across the country, which have been taken out of the rulebook over the years - some of these may have been more popular than others.

1. The central-defensive 'Psycho' - Football fans love nothing more than seeing a crunching tackle. The celebrated players in that defensive midfield position - the Vinnie Joneses, the Razor Ruddocks and the Roy Keanes for example - played with the aim of making sure their marker knew exactly where they were at all times. The fact that if you type these players' names into a search engine, you will be asked, "Did you mean… (insert player name) red card?" is testament to the roles played by these hardmen for their sides. City fans will recall the likes of Darren Purse and our very own 'Psycho' Jason Perry playing the role in City colours.

Nowadays, tackling is seen as more of a team effort with an expectancy to contribute from back to front.  You will regularly see the likes of Helguson and Whittingham tracking back to retrieve the ball for the Bluebirds this season - and they will tend to do it with slightly more finesse than some of their counterparts of ten years ago!

2. Player-Managers - While there is at least one still playing in the Football League, rarely do we see the gaffer send himself on up front for the final ten minutes of a match to nick a winner any more. The proverbial 'covering one's self in glory' is most easily accomplished for a manager that still retains just enough ability from his playing days in order to do a job on the field. Kenny Dalglish was arguably the most high-profile of all those performing this role, as he turned out for the famous Liverpool side of 1985-1990 while simultaneously managing the Reds. More recently we have seen Dennis Wise take Millwall to their first-ever FA Cup Final in 2004.

Unfortunately, with the strength in depth he appears to have in his squad for this season, it seems unlikely that we will get to see Malky dusting off his boots any time soon - though former City bosses Davy McDougall, Jimmy Mullen and Russell Osman did hold the simultaneous roles at Ninian Park.

3. The single-sub rule - The younger generation of Cardiff City supporters will be unaware of this, but there was once a time when a team was allowed an eleven-man starting line-up and then were only permitted to use one substitute! This was obviously before the term 'strength in depth' made its way into football. The sub had to be a utility man capable of playing anywhere, as any player on the park could potentially suffer injury. This season clubs are allowed to name seven substitutes, with a maximum of three able to enter the field of play. That doesn't make the dilemma of who to bring on for whom any less difficult though! As for Cardiff's most revered super-subs, think no further than the versatile Alf Sherwood or the much-loved Steve Lynex.

4. Golden Goal - The Bluebirds have been relatively successful in penalty shootouts in recent years, beating both Leicester City and Crystal Palace via spot-kicks on their march through the League Cup last season, but ultimately being seen off by the same fate at Wembley by Liverpool.

Many will express a dislike for the method of settling matches though, claiming it puts too much pressure on the players involved. As recently as 2004, the idea of a Golden Goal period for thirty minutes before penalties were required was still in use. Fans would often sweepstake the minute in which the goal would be scored, which perhaps made fans feel even more immersed with the action. It was also an opportunity for the fittest players to single-handedly win games for their teams as the match would end immediately following the ball being put into the back of the net. However, the scenario was abandoned in 2004 following complaints that it simply encouraged teams to refuse to concede, and many Golden Goal periods remained scoreless. Some have suggested twists on the formula, for example to remove a player from each side every few minutes until there was a winner. For the foreseeable future though, it seems as if players will have to continue to practice their spot-kicks in training whenever they have a cup tie on the horizon.

5. Moustaches - The great Liverpool team of the 80's, having been mentioned earlier, were famous for a number of things. Their flowing football and high goal output was one. Their continual domination of British football - they won seven league titles during the decade - was another. But they were universally iconic for their facial hair. Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson and Ian Rush's facial follicles would inspire a generation to sculpt their 'staches, with an honourable mention going to German striker Rudi Voller. Modern efforts from David Beckham, David James and Abel Xavier may not have been as inspirational to the fans, though November has now become accepted as the month of the moustache in modern football, with a few City players each year being brave enough to sport one for as long as their dignity will allow!