There’s been loads of coverage of the game so I won’t comment much on what happened on the pitch. Suffice it to say that the general feeling at half time was we were definitely second best but by the end we were deserved winners. And how good that felt.
But it was unfortunate in a way that the game, which inevitably had a huge fascination in itself, detracted from the possible reaction of City supporters to the bizarre off-field events of the previous few weeks. Clearly, there had been a massive shift in fans feelings away from a reluctant-red position to an anti-Tan stance. There was simply too much focus on the result and on the rivalry for any real chance of anti-Tan feeling to emerge. Sure, a “Tan Out” banner did appear (briefly) in the Canton stand early on.
I saw, sadly, just the one red scarf flung onto the pitch at one point during the game (perhaps not surprising, given that there were very few red scarves in evidence). I suppose it’s also true that there was far less red in evidence generally amongst the crowd ; blue was much more predominant, as of old, though the wet weather with attendant rain-gear lessened the impact of this. Also, there was a heartening burst of “We’ll always be Blue” echoing round the whole ground towards the end. To be fair, there was probably quite a bit more than this that went on, especially in the Canton end, but, like most, I was so intent on the game (the tension throughout was palpable) that I didn’t notice much, apart from the repeated and predictable attempts of Swansea fans to wind us up.
For me, it was only after the game and the celebrations that my revulsion against Tan re-surfaced. I kept looking towards the Canton end looking for the emergence of the promised protest sit-in but disappointingly not much appeared for quite a while. Sadly, most of the City fans had already left the stadium, all jubilant, by the time that a few banners began to appear and a smallish crowd began to gather round them. I made my over from the Ninian stand (no attempt by stewards to stop this) and soon found myself and about 200 others alongside 4 or 5 well-made banners. We sang and chanted with increasing gusto as our confidence grew, all heartened by the fact that we no longer felt alone. Our only audience by this time, paradoxically, were the remains of the Swansea fans (still corralled in the away section). But our songs grew louder as the acoustics of the empty stadium began to work in our favour. Stewards began to line up pitch-side in front of us but made no attempt at getting us out.
There was just one steward who clearly was furious, shouting and gesticulating at us as we insulted his paymaster. Hilariously, the stewards around him had to focus more on getting him away than on anything we might do. The head steward (I forget his name but City fans will know the silver-haired one I mean) tried to insinuate himself into our crowd and talk us into stopping but on we went. One wonderful chorus of “Keep Cardiff Blue” went on and on and on, like a Buddhist mantra. We were encouraged also by the fact that there were still a couple of cameras operational above the grandstand and there were lots of silhouettes in the posh bars staring out at us. Just as we were starting to wonder how long we’d stick it out, an indecipherable message came over the tannoy. It wasn’t Ali and I’ve no idea what he said but it only encouraged us.
Suddenly the stadium lights were switched off, plunging it into a beautiful blue underlit twilight. It looked really great and really BLUE and drew a huge cheer from us. About half an hour had by now gone by; the stewards were beginning to line up on all sides of us. Our numbers were beginning to dwindle; a few urged that we all sit tight and refuse to be moved but most were happy to leave en masse, singing loudly and with heads held high, proud that we’d really succeeded in making our point. Some even had to pause in the opening to the staircase for one friendly steward to take a souvenir snap of us. (I doubt if Tan will be employing him at the next game!)
Lessons to learn?
- There is a point in doing this kind of thing: it got a lot of coverage in the media.
- It won’t be quite so easy next time (and I really feel there should be a next time); the club officials will do some homework, study their CCTV and try to figure out a way to prevent a repeat. But with enough numbers there’s little they can do.
- There will be more of us next time, now that a precedent has been set. And with bigger numbers we’ll make more of an impact and add to the growing tide of feeling that wants our club back in the hands of those who care about it, those who know something about football, those who respect our history and identity, those who are prepared to let the life-blood of the club – the fans – have a say in our future.
See you after the Man U game!