Club historian Richard Shepherd looks back at Joe Ledley's first match in a City shirt...He was selected to be in Cardiff City’s squad for our Carling (League) Cup Second Round match against this Saturday’s opponents, MK Dons, on September 21st 2004, but seventeen year-old Joe Ledley from our Academy ranks still had to clean skipper Graham Kavanagh’s boots as part of his weekly Ninian Park routine.
Cardiff-born Joe, from the Fairwater district of the city, had captained his school team at Cantonian High School before becoming a junior professional with the Bluebirds. His family were keen Cardiff City fans, and Joe had been with City's junior Academy teams since the age of nine. And so, eleven years ago, midfielder Joe was given his opportunity by manager Lennie Lawrence in the September Cup encounter.
The match was played at the National Hockey Stadium, where MK Dons played before their move to their current stadium mk home. Joe was named as one of the five men on the City bench, prior to the number of substitutes being increased to seven in 2009.
It had been a challenging start for the Bluebirds in the 2004/05 campaign (our second season in what is now the Sky Bet championship) – City had played ten first-team games with just two victories – one in the League and one in the Carling Cup. So Joe was included against MK Dons, then in the third tier and whose assistant-manager was our former forward, Jimmy Gilligan. Joe’s fellow trainee Byron Anthony was also in the side, starting at right-back.
Joe came on as substitute for Jobi McAnuff and City won the game 4-1 with goals from Peter Thorne (2), Lee Bullock and Byron Anthony. It was not long before Joe made his full début for the Bluebirds – a month later when we drew 1-1 at home to Brighton – and he went from strength to strength after that.
Already a Wales Youth International at Under-17 and Under-19 level, he became an Under-21 and Full International while with City, and is now still a regular member of Chris Coleman’s squad, with over fifty senior caps, whilst playing for Premier League Crystal Palace.
But it all began for Joe against MK Dons, though he still had to clean Graham Kavanagh’s boots!
Our line-up vs MK Dons for Joe’s début...
Cardiff City: Neil Alexander, Byron Anthony, Chris Barker, Willie Boland, Tony Vidmar, James Collins, Jobi McAnuff (Joe Ledley), Lee Bullock, Peter Thorne (Andy Campbell), Alan Lee, Paul Parry.
Subs not used: Tony Warner, Danny Gabbidon, Graham Kavanagh.