Cardiff City host Bristol City this evening – a match that usually comes served with plenty of spice . Terry Phillips reflects one tasty rivalry – that between former Robins striker Andy Cole and the Bluebirds that would later lead to a confrontation with Cardiff captain Darren Purse.
It was 5pm-ish on Saturday, April 26, 2008.
Andy Cole, who fired up his highly successful playing career with Bristol City, burst into the media room at Turf Moor in dramatic fashion.
I was working on my Wales on Sunday match report when a furious Cole marched in. At the time he was playing for Burnley at the tail end of his hugely successful career that hit the heights with Newcastle, Manchester United and England.
His target was Bluebirds’ captain Darren Purse.
The rivalry between Cole and Cardiff had its roots in a fiery two-legged League Cup tie in 1992. Cardiff had won the first leg 1-0, but then crumbled in the return, where Cole scored a hat-trick in a 5-1 thrashing.
A long 16 years later, he was up against Cardiff again in Burnley colours and he left local journalists from the Lancashire town stunned. This was the first time Cole had attended a post-match press conference and he was intent on making his point.
The room was pretty full with journos filing copy and we all looked up from our lap tops. It was clear Cole, still in his playing kit, was determined to have his say.
Purse had been sent off in the 90th minute of a 3-3 draw for a lunge which left the former England striker needing 10 stitches.
The dismissal and three-match ban looked certain to rule Purse out of the 2008 FA Cup final against Portsmouth, but that red card was rescinded on appeal – and Purse was in the match day squad at Wembley Stadium, although Roger Johnson and Glenn Loovens started at the heart of defence.
Cole went in search of Purse after the final whistle, running up the tunnel before being stopped by police and substitutes.
“I ain’t going to tell a lie,” shouted Cole to the startled media.
“I went looking for him, but didn’t get to him. The guy was a muppet and it was one of the worst tackles I’ve had in my career.
“The bloke can’t even play football. He was saying I went high, but if I did, how high did he go? I have 10 stitches at the top of my shin!”
Bluebirds manager Dave Jones accused Cole of using his reputation to get Purse sent off after the striker pulled down his sock to show referee Andy Hall the damage.
Jones claimed Cole should ‘take a long, hard look at himself’ before adding that the club intended to appeal over the red card.
Cole, who had already won five Premier League titles with Manchester United plus the Champions League along with a number of other trophies, was not for backing down.
“He (Jones) should be the one taking a look at himself,” said Cole. “I’ve had 18 years in the game. What has he ever done?”
Nottingham-born Cole, now aged 49, was a teenager when he started his professional career at Arsenal, making one Premier League appearance before taking up the option of a transfer to Bristol City.
The Robins paid a £500,000 fee after an initial loan period and Cole fired a total of 20 goals in 41 appearances before Newcastle United splashed out £1.75m for the goals ace.
Cole was on loan at Burnley from Sunderland when he faced Cardiff City, but powerful defender Purse was unruffled by his outburst at Turf Moor.
His red card was rescinded by the Football Association of Wales and Purse refused to join the debate, saying: “I was disappointed with the comments he [Cole] came out with.
“Sometimes in the heat of the moment after a game you can say something you end up regretting.
“I know I would never come out and say anything like that about another professional, especially to the press. Maybe to someone’s face you might, but to do it like that was disappointing.
“I’ve played against him a few times before and never had a problem. He always seemed like a genuine bloke.
“To be honest I was not aware of what went on afterwards. I was just sat in the dressing room, distraught.
“It was only when Roger Johnson and Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink came in and said it was all kicking off outside that I knew about that.
“For a couple of hours later after the game it was a nightmare, but you can’t let it affect you. At the end of the day it is only football.
“The FAW have been fantastic, looked at the appeal and made the right decision. I’ve never gone into a tackle looking to hurt somebody.
“It is not part of my make-up. I go in hard, but fair. I am not a dirty player.
“I was confident of getting it [red card] overturned because I knew I had not gone in there with any malice.
“The ball was in the air and we had both gone in. I thought it was going to be my free-kick. I can’t see on the video where I caught him to cut him.”
Cole and Purse were in line to go head-to-head again the following season.
By then Cole was playing for Nottingham Forest, his last professional club in a career which lasted almost 20 years, but the striker did not play that season against Cardiff.