Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds go for gold when they play Reading at home on Sunday. dai-sport journalist Terry Phillips has been reporting on Cardiff City for a quarter of a century. Here is part two of his reflection on the club’s promotion seasons.
Craig Bellamy stood at the front of the open top bus as it drove through the streets of Cardiff, while Malky Mackay was just behind me.
Bluebirds captain Mark Hudson was a few yards away, leading a chorus of ‘Swansea City, we’re coming for you’ over and over again.
Craig Conway was standing just in front of me clutching a beer bottle and at one stage he almost toppled over the side of the double decker. I was able to ease him back into an upright position and the celebrations continued.
It was, without doubt, one of the most memorable times of my journalism career, surpassing the time Nottingham Forest’s Brian Clough comes over to a press box in Kent and left the European Cup in my care for 45 minutes.
These days, of course,there would be security staff everywhere to protect the trophy, but I was reporting on Forest at the time and Cloughie said: “Young man, look after this.”
Mackay’s men had won the Championship title. They were heading to the Premier League.
I had been gobsmacked when he had asked if I fancied going on the open top bus tour with the staff and players.
It was, without doubt, the chance of a lifetime, and I will always be indebted to Mackay for that gesture.
He was one of the most approachable managers of the 14 or so men who have been in charge at Cardiff City since I came to South Wales 25 years ago.
Lennie Lawrence was, and still is, excellent, while Alan Cork is a fantastic guy and we would enjoy a drink or two in Cardiff Bay.
Frank Burrows is a manager I totally respect, while my relationship with Mackay started badly and improved quickly.
The big Scot was furious when the South Wales Echo splashed with ‘Cardiff City move for Kenny Miller’ and after a media conference at the Vale of Glamorgan training ground he asked: “Could I have a word?”
We went into his office and he said: “Where did that story come from?”
My reply was ‘What’s wrong with it’ and he said: “It’s flipping true, that’s what’s wrong.”
He didn’t use the word ‘Flipping’.
I explained that he was suffering from previous manager Dave Jones, whose media relations were poor and, because we he wouldn’t communicate, we went with every story that broke.
Mackay wanted to do things far differently and we agreed to meet a couple of times a month for breakfast at the Vale of Glamorgan Resort and chat by phone on a regular basis.
When rumours started that Craig Noone was coming to Cardiff from Brighton I rang Malky to ask what was happened and he said: “It’s true, but can you hold the story for a while to let me get the deal done.”
The next the story was bubbling to the surface in Brighton and when I ran Malky again he said: “Go with it. No quotes from me, all speculation. You’re on a winner.”
Mackay’s Bluebirds achieved what Neil Warnock’s Warriors are intent on achieving this Sunday. They earned promotion to the Premier League.
The Bluebirds’ class of 2018 won’t be champions, but nobody will care a jot if they beat Reading and return to the top tier, hopefully alongside Swansea City.
Mackay did a magnificent job for the Bluebirds in winning the Championship, but I believe that if Warnock takes Cardiff up – and I believe he will – it will be the most astonishing football achievement I’ve witnessed since Clough led Forest to European Cup glory.
The man is a footballing genius.
1912-13 Southern League Division Two title
Promoted to Division One
This was the season Fred Keener signed for Cardiff City from Roath Wednesday. Attendances rose past the 20,000 mark.
Secretary-manager Fred Stewart and his Cardiff team suffered only one defeat and clinched the title with three fixtures left.
1946-47 Third Division South title
Cardiff City were rocked when manager Cyril Spiers resigned during the summer of 1946 and joined Norwich City. Former Irish international Billy McCandless, who had spent most of his club career playing for Glasgow Rangers, moved from Newport County to take over.
Football League fixtures for the season were the same as those intended for 1939-40 before the Second World War started.
Of the team for their opening game against Spiers’ new team Norwich included only goalkeeper George Poland who had played in the Football League before the war.
The Bluebirds were unbeaten at home and finished nine points ahead of second placed Queens Park Rangers.
Arthur ‘Buller’ Lever was ever-present, while Billy Rees and Stan Richards missed one game each.
Richards scored 30 goals and 51,626 spectators were at the home game against Bristol City.
Third Division South
|2||Queens Park Rangers||42||15||2||4||42||15||8||9||4||32||25||74||40||1.850||+34||57|
|7||Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic||42||12||4||5||43||20||6||4||11||29||34||72||54||1.333||+18||44|
|17||Brighton & Hove Albion||42||8||7||6||31||35||5||5||11||23||37||54||72||0.750||–18||38|
1992-93 Third Division title
Manager Eddie May and his Bluebirds were crowned champions and won the Welsh Cup.
May’s first signing was Northern Ireland international Paul Ramsey from Leicester City and the manager said: “I would stake my life on him.”
He moved for Chester striker Carl Dale, who was available for £100,000, brought in Paul Miller from Port Vale and striker Phil Stant.
“Stanty was an important signing, a real tough guy,” said May. “He was a great foil for Carl.”
May also added former Swansea player Robbie James from Bradford.
The Bluebirds were champions, winning 25 of their 42 fixtures. They scored 107 league and cup goals.
Welshman Dale, born in Colwyn Bay, netted 29 goals, Stant 18 and Nathan Blake 14.
2012-13 Championship title
Malky Mackay’s Bluebirds finished top of the Championship and earned promotion to the Premier League.
They clinched top spot with a 1-1 draw against Burnley at Turf Moor, leading Cardiff to the top tier for the first time in more than 50 years.
Mackay was named Championship Manager of the Year.
Cardiff won their first 10 League home fixtures and finished eight points ahead of second placed Hull City.
“It was an amazing season,” said captain Mark Hudson, who was Cardiff City player of the year and was selected, along with Peter Whittingham, for the PFA Allstar team.
“Lifting the trophy was the biggest moment of my career. Earning promotion and winning the title was a fantastic feeling.”
Aaron Gunnarsson, Whittingham and Heidar Helguson were joint top scorers with eight Championship goals each.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion or relegation|
|1||Cardiff City (C) (P)||46||25||12||9||72||45||+27||87|
|2||Hull City (P)||46||24||7||15||61||52||+9||79|
|4||Brighton & Hove Albion (Q)||46||19||18||9||69||43||+26||75|
|5||Crystal Palace (Q)||46||19||15||12||73||62||+11||72|
|6||Leicester City (Q)||46||19||11||16||71||48||+23||68|
|22||Peterborough United (R)||46||15||9||22||66||75||−9||54|
|23||Wolverhampton Wanderers (R)||46||14||9||23||55||69||−14||51|
|24||Bristol City (R)||46||11||8||27||59||84||−25||41|
And the one that got away . . . . .
1923-24 Division One
Cardiff City were top of Division One, the top tier of English football, on the final day of the season.
They stood one point ahead of Huddersfield Town in second place going into the final fixture against Birmingham City way.
A Bluebirds win would have made manager Fred Stewart’s team champions. A draw at St Andrew’s would leave Huddersfield needing a 3-0 home win against Nottingham Forest at home.
During a dramatic afternoon Cardiff drew 0-0 and 23-goal top scorer Len Davies missed a penalty. More than 49,000 spectators were at Birmingham and when the spot-kick was awarded Jack Evans and Jimmy Gill, who normally took penalties, seemed reluctant.
Davies stepped up and shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Huddersfield won 3-0 against Forest were were crowned champions on goal average by 0.024. No other team in football history has ever missed out on a title by such a small margin.
That moment go glory for Huddersfield changed the face of football in Britain. That was the first of three successive titles won by manager Herbert Chapman and his Huddersfield team, while he later took over at Arsenal and led the Londoners to a hat-trick of titles in consecutive seasons.
Division One final table
|13||West Ham United||42||10||6||5||26||17||3||9||9||14||26||40||43||0.930||–3||41|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||42||10||6||5||43||30||2||8||11||8||32||51||62||0.823||–11||38|
|18||Preston North End||42||8||4||9||34||27||4||6||11||18||40||52||67||0.776||–15||34|
Part three of Terry’s reflection on Cardiff City promotions tomorrow will focus on 2003-04.