One of our match-day hospitality hosts is former Cardiff City full-back GARY BELL, who fondly remembers a particular home game in which he played against Saturday’s opponents Birmingham City. It was on September 5th 1970 in a Second Division match at Ninian Park. We were 2-0 winners through two first-half goals from John Toshack, and that game saw the half-time introduction, as substitute, of Birmingham’s 16 year-old forward Trevor Francis, who went on to become the first £1 million transfer between British clubs when he joined Nottingham Forest in 1979. Francis came on against us to replace Johnny Vincent who would later move to the Welsh Capital from Middlesbrough in October 1972.
Gary Bell recalls that game against Birmingham because he marked the teenage Francis: ”Being from the West Midlands I always took a close interest in the happenings of the big clubs in that area – West Bromwich, Aston Villa, Birmingham, Wolves – and my Dad would regularly send me the local Saturday evening football paper, the Birmingham Sports Argus. I knew about Trevor Francis because he was getting impressive reports playing for Birmingham’s reserves. So when he came on against me, I had a brief word with him telling not to be nervous, and just to play his natural game.”
It was something that the future England International has never forgotten, and he recalled it in an interview for Birmingham City’s match-day programme when we played them at St. Andrews last December, saying: ”In fact Gary Bell talked me through the second half with words of encouragement, and it left a big impression on me”.
05/09/1970 | FINAL SCORE: CARDIFF CITY 2-0 BIRMINGHAM CITY (Toshack 2) - Att. 22,081
Our line-up:Frank Parsons, Dave Carver, Gary Bell, Mel Sutton, Don Murray, Brian Harris, Ian Gibson, Brian Clark, Bobby Woodruff, John Toshack, Peter King. Sub not used: Ronnie Bird.