The Bluebirds begin their Premier League campaign at AFC Bournemouth on August 11th, in front of a sold-out away end.
James Thomas looks back at five of the best opening day fixtures which took place away from South Wales in years gone by, beginning with last season’s vital victory at the Pirelli Stadium…
Burton Albion 0-1 Cardiff City - August 5th, 2017
Cardiff City opened their promotion winning season with a victory against Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium, which saw Neil Warnock begin his first full season in charge of the Bluebirds.
City’s dominant performance was rewarded three minutes from time, when Kenneth Zohore let fly from distance. His shot from outside the area flew past Stephen Bywater and into the net, behind which the 1,700 travelling supporters were standing.
Zohore went on to score a further eight vitally important goals in City’s promotion winning season. It was the beginning of a tremendous start to the season, as the Bluebirds went on to win another four consecutive games which proved decisive come the end of the campaign.
West Ham 0-1 Cardiff City - August 7th, 2011
City began the 2011/2012 season in perfect fashion at Upton Park, scoring another late opening day goal. The game saw the Bluebirds soak up significant pressure, with captain Mark Hudson and defensive partner Anthony Gerrard to name a few who put their bodies on the line. Despite the pressure, it was the Bluebirds who condemned the newly relegated Hammers to an opening defeat in the Championship and in the process ended City’s winless run at Upton Park which had dated back to 1950.
Scottish striker Kenny Miller, who had signed from Bursaspor earlier in the summer, fired home past Rob Green in injury time to secure his first goal for the Bluebirds on his debut. The striker received the ball from fellow debutant Rudy Gestede and shot into the top corner on the turn.
The Bluebirds went on to finish the season in sixth place, facing off against the Hammers again in the Play-Offs. However, it was United who were victorious that time around, and Sam Allardyce’s team were later promoted after a 2-1 win against Blackpool at Wembley in the Play Off Final, which gave them an instant return to the Premier League.
Barnsley 1- 2 Cardiff City - August 5th, 2006
The Bluebirds opened their 2006/2007 campaign with a winning start away to Barnsley, who had been promoted from League One in the previous season. The Tykes had defeated Swansea City on penalties in the Play-Off Final to reach the second tier. Stephen McPhail, who had scored for Barnsley in the shootout, was making his City debut against his former club, having arrived at Ninian Park that summer.
City broke the deadlock after 19 minutes thanks to a Joe Ledley effort, and shortly after doubled their lead following Steven Thompson’s goal after 22 minutes. The Tykes conjured up a goal thanks to Brian Howard in the 31st minute to reduce the deficit, but it was the Bluebirds who were triumphant and kickstarted their campaign with victory in South Yorkshire.
The Bluebirds continued their fine start to the campaign but went on to finish in 13th place. The most memorable game of the season was the FA Cup Third Round Tie against Tottenham Hotspur, where the Bluebirds held Martin Jol’s side to a 0-0 draw at Ninian Park.
Oldham 1-2 Cardiff City - August 10th, 2002
Many Bluebirds supporters will remember this season for our famous Division Two Play-Off Final win at the Millennium Stadium against QPR, thanks to a memorable volley by City forward Andy Campbell. But the fairy-tale all began at Boundary Park, where the Bluebirds kickstarted their promotion winning season against Oldham Athletic, leaving as 2-1 winners.
Goals from Robert Earnshaw and Play-Off Final scorer Campbell were enough to hand over the Bluebirds the three points despite the Latics conjuring up a late injury-time consolation goal.
Exeter City 1-2 Cardiff City - August 12th, 2000
Billy Ayre’s Cardiff City began the 2000/01 campaign with a 2-1 triumphant away win against Exeter City at St. James’s Park. Goals from Paul Brayson and Josh Low were enough to secure the Bluebirds the valuable three points in front of a crowd of just under 4,000.
It turned out to be an impressive debut season for Welshman Robert Earnshaw, who scored twenty-five goals in all competitions for the Welsh capital. His goals helped ensure promotion to Division Two at the end of the season with a second place finish, guaranteeing in immediate return to the third tier.