Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat....

Except we don't eat goose at Christmas. Turkey of course, at least in our gaff. Sign of the times I suppose.

Which brings me on to a minor rant about the festive season. Now I'm not hugely a man of faith, although I do have my moments (not that many people would know), and it therefore may seem perverse that I'm writing this. But Christmas IS a religious festival, celebrating the birth of Jesus. I hate that it's now largely just the "Christmas holidays". An opportunity to overindulge on food, drink, presents and so on without a thought about why we are doing this.

It's bad enough that you have to dig hard to find a "holy" Christmas card amongst all the teddies and rabbits and puppies on show. Robins and holly and snow encrusted trees are at least in the general spirit of the season.

And the tat. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind a bit of Christmas tat - a Santa hat or Christmas jumper, and various iffy decorations here and there, so long as it's not overdone. And I do like a set (or several) of Christmas lights, though I prefer traditional fairy lights to the dazzling blue and bright white type of late.

But I draw the line somewhere. And in a local "bargain" shop the other day I saw (and I kid you not) a "Musical bum" - a mooning arse that presumably when pressed somewhere plays a dodgy version of Jingle bells.

Sigh. Sad times. And it costs £2.49. Suffice it to say I won't be getting one.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Cardiff City 2-0 Reading: Some stuff we knew, and some we didn't.

Cardiff City finally ended their goal drought today as they eased past Reading 2-0 at the CCS. For the first time in a long time, fans gave the team a rousing cheer and a well deserved round of applause at the final whilst celebrating a good win against a decent side with an improved all round display. 

I'm not a micro analyst of City,  and this isn't intended tone a match report. But during the game a number of things occurred to me that would exceed  140 character tweet that is my more usual form of social media communication.

1. David Marshall is by far and away the best keeper in the Championship - and probably as good if not better than many in the Premier League. We all knew that anyway, so we didn't find that out today, but half a dozen outstanding saves - three in quick succession, reinforced that.

2. We didn't miss Peter Whittingham. I was going to write that we don't "need" Peter Whittingham, but that may be a step to far. Certainly Slade was forced to juggle his plans after Whitts missed the match though a fifth yellow picked up last time out. But I thought Ralls did a superb job in the centre, and he provided two great deliveries from set pieces for our goals. Whitts shouldn't be a shoe in. Ralls should.

3. Matt Connolly is class. Contentious maybe, as I know he has his detractors, but I've always liked him. He plays football, can play in several positions, although CB is his best spot, has a cool head and can come up with important goals.

4. Mason is good, but only when he gets service. But obvious really, but today he just looked like a short version of Alex Revell. 

5. Noone should start every match. End of.

6. In the brief time he was on, Idris Saadi looks good. Eager and hungry. But it looked like he'd tweaked his hammy just before the end.

7. Slade is still not the man for the job. 

8. Reading's kit. Meh.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad Mini

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Is there anybody there?

It's not too hard to understand why attendances at Cardiff City have fallen this year.

Firstly the dire football served up last year will have inevitably put people off. Why pay several hundred pounds to watch such poor entertainment?

Secondly, albeit reasonable value by some clubs prices, it still ain't cheap. Combine that with the end of the 5 year price freeze for those like me that bought "the golden ticket", and it effectively means your paying more to watch some pretty uninspiring football.

The club has made some big noises about doing things to being back the fans. The drum at last nights game v Bristol City, or the half time "entertainment" - in this instance consisting of making small children dizzy and then trying to kick a ball into a goal - aren't really going to do it for me.

There's really only one solution. Start playing decent football and winning games. Sorted

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Back to blue, but the football's pooh

Roger Johnson - always gave it 110%
I last blogged about Cardiff City on 10th January and the return to blue.

In that post I pondered on what I thought the benefits of that rather unexpected u-turn might bring.

  1. The horrendous 'beer mat' badge will be redesigned to make the bluebird far more prominent, but also an interestingly incorporate elements "representative" of VT's culture and beliefs.

    Outcome: Well, we'll see on Monday went the new badge is unveiled. VT says we'll love it as the bluebird features prominently and there's a lovely oriental dragon on it. I'll hang fire on this until I see it.
  2. Season ticket prices would be levelled off bringing parity between the price freeze people like me and others.

    Outcome: As expected, it's a bit more for price freeze people, and a bit less for others. Still decent value, or at least it would be if the football was any good - more on that later.
  3. I suggested a lot of people are going to start buying merchandise if was blue and has a better badge.

    Outcome:It's probably too early to tell, and there's not a load of blue stuff available yet, but I think this will pick up. It may be dependent on that mysterious new badge though.
  4. The crowds will also pick up. The happiness factor about going back to blue will bring people back who said they'd never return whilst we were in red, as well as help the general demeanour and atmosphere at games, where the crowd can direct support at the team rather than venting frustration and anger at the directors box. Just the feel good factor should help crowd numbers.

    Outcome: Er......Well this is awkward. According to Ali when he announces the attendance, we seem to be getting a good 20,000 people plus through the gate. In reality I think it's much less than this. It's clear that the attendances announced are on tickets sold (including ST's) and no bodies through the turnstiles on match days. In fact at one match the crowd even laughed when the attendance was announced it was so far off the mark. We're not idiots (well most of us). Just say the right figure. Or tell us the tickets sold but tell us its tickets sold.
  5. Either way, the return to blue hasn't brought the crowds flocking back, and that's because the quality of football being served up is dire. More on that later.
  6. We might even see a return of my favourite podcast from the boys at 'View From The Ninian'.

    Outcome: No luck yet. I don't think they can find their way out of "Pessimism Corner".
  7. Finally of course VT will be ensuring that there's a free blue scarf giveaway at the next midweek match.....

    Outcome: I did make that up. But he hasn't, although it might be a nice gesture. Perhaps he's waiting for the new badge.
So what about the football? I'm not going to dwell on this. It's crap. Dire. Awful. Abysmal. Shocking. And it's clearly not just me. I don't know anyone apart from Russell Slade who thinks we're playing good football, and even he's admitted at times it's awful.

I have renewed my season ticket(s). God knows why. Having said earlier it's still good value, I guess it's good value if you like being built up with hope and expectation every week, only to have all that hope torn out of you by 5pm every Saturday (or 9.45pm on a Tuesday).

Cardiff City are playing unbelievably bad football. The only saving grace is that there are some teams in the division who are even worse than us.

The manager doesn't appear to have a clue. I don't know anyone who wants him to remain in charge. Today's capitulation against Charlton was awful. They didn't play well, but had shown some glimpses of the old City, but as soon as we went a goal up I knew we'd concede and once Charlton equalised I knew they'd win. There's no fire and no passion. Perhaps that's why VT is changing the badge?

Some players try. Some don't. Some run around like headless chickens. Some still look very unfit. Many look way below the quality we've come to expect at Cardiff City. There are a few bright sparks. I like the look of Kennedy. Manga's generally solid. Marshall of course is imperious in the main. Erm....how many is that?

It was good to see Roger Johnson back with Charlton today. One of my all time favourite City players. Now there's a player who could be a bit of an idiot at time, but when he pulled on a City shirt you just knew he was giving it 110% every time.

I await the remainder of the season with no excitement, no great buzz, no.....nothing. I just go because I've paid my money and I'll support them whatever - isn't that what we die hard fans say?

Put your bloody lights on!

It's not a difficult concept is it? It's dark (or getting dark) so when you are driving you put your lights on.

I've been wanting to rant about this for ages.

I am staggered at the number of drivers I see that assume because they can still see without lights, it's ok to drive without lights and that other people can see them.

I don't know if it's made worse by the current season, with lengthening lighter evenings making it harder for people to think about when they put their lights on (if in doubt put them on), but it's either ignorance or a "look at how I can drive in the dark" attitude.

I have a relatively short commute of about 16 miles, but a significant proportion of that is on a busy motorway, and I am astounded by the number of people I see driving as the light fades with no lights or side lights at high motorway speeds. But it's not just motorways. It's everywhere.

There are two factions I'd like to point the finger of blame at here.

1) The driver
It's not rocket science. Lights are as much about you being seen as you being able to see. I recently drove to Exeter for work and was going down the M5, a particularly busy motorway at the best of time in driving rain - so bad, visibility was tens of yards at times and STILL I found people driving without ANY lights.
And don't just use sidelights - put the headlights on. Sidelights are frankly useless. Put your bloody headlights on!

2) The manufacturers

  • Don't put sidelights on cars - just put headlights in. That would stop idiots driving on sidelights.
  • Those bloody LED driving lights. Lots of people think because they've got them, they don't need "ordinary lights". Have you noticed that in most cases, when the cars on LED driving lights only, there are no tail lights on. Great if you're heading towards a car, rubbish if you're coming up on it from behind. I wonder how many people realise that?
  • Make "automatic" headlights compulsory. I'll never buy another car without auto lights. The dial is stuck on auto and it stays there. The only time I have to go to manual is the occasions when fog can fool the sensor into thinking it's still light.
And, whilst I'm on the subject of lights, how many cars do you see with a blown bulb? Loads. Get it fixed. It's a few quid for the bulb and even if you can't fit it yourself (and frankly the way cars are made these days it's getting harder - I have to take the whole headlight unit out to replace a bulb in my Mondeo). Halfords will do it for about £3 on the spot. Worth every penny I'd say unless your confident in doing it yourself. 

There's just no excuse not to be safe and seen on the road.

Turn them on. Please.

Friday, January 16, 2015

On the diet trail

I've been meaning to lose weight for a while. By a while, I mean maybe several years. But there's always a reason why it's never been easy, and it's not that I'm really overweight (cough).

Anyway, the time has come. I decided before Christmas that this time it was for real. And then to top it off I decided to do "Dryanuary" - not alcohol during January. Well actually from 4th January on as we had friends over for a meal on 3rd, and it would have been rude not to assist in the indulgence.

So, it's been almost 2 weeks grog free. Whilst it would be incorrect to say I haven't missed alcohol (it was tricky on an overnight trip to London this week with colleagues in a pub downing Doombar and me on the diet coke), it hasn't been too hard. I'm not a heavy drinker. One bottle a night maybe two at weekends is my norm, or sometimes a glass or two of wine instead. Even when I have a night out I rarely get past 4 pints.

And as for the food. Well I like my food. I like any food, but I do have a penchant for the stuff that isn't good for you. Bread, chips, chocolate. I'm not averse to healthy food, and we absolutely don't eat unhealthily - lots of veg and fruit, but I'm a sucker for seconds, or sometimes even thirds.

So it was decided I'd try the 5:2 diet. East what you like (within reason) 5 days a week, and limit to 600 calories on the other two "fasting" days.

I'm a week in to this, and I have to say it's been ok. And between the diet and lack of alcohol I believe I have lost a bit already. Stupidly, I didn't weight myself at the start, and our old tatty scales were almost unreadable on it's analogue scale. On Thursday I bought a set of cheap(ish) but recommended digital scales so my benchmark is from here rather than the start of it all.

I'm pretty proud that I've resisted all forms of chocolate and bread  even on my non fasting days this week. I drink black coffee normally, so I haven't missed milk in coffee or tea, and otherwise it's been water or occasionally diet coke.

I'll let you know how I get on.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

At last

Looks good doesn't it? It certainly felt good.

The Bluebirds back in blue. Lots of references to the "Bluebirds", including the electronic scoreboard showing "Bluebirds" rather than "Cardiff". Hardly a red shirt or scarf to be seen anywhere. Mascots in blue. Oh, and we won! Three points in the bag, thank you very much a great day all round.

It's perhaps a bit naughty to post anything negative, given the events of the last two days but well, the football was still dire. No creativity from either side. Shots on target? Hardly any. Great saves? I can't remember any. Rigid formation. Yes. No plan B. Nope. The atmosphere wasn't as great as I'd hoped for our first match back in blue either. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. And the crowd - just over 22k, which means that there were still lots and lots of empty seats. Maybe it'll come. On the plus side the new signing at the back Malone looked pretty solid and level headed and impressed me.

As an aside, I'm constantly astonished by how little attention some people pay to the game. There's a bunch of fans who are next to us. They nearly always turn up late - sometimes 10 minutes after the match has started, and nearly always leave early before half time and then early at the end. They also spend large portions of the match talking to each other with hardly an eye on the football.

Today they turned up as the teams came out. Literally 29 minutes into the game (I checked the clock) they were disappearing for a pint and didn't come back until the 2nd half was underway - then left early before the match was finished (again). I know the football wasn't great but.....

Friday, January 09, 2015

Back to Blue - Get your free blue CCFC scarf here!

Courtesy of Wales Online
Well, well, well.

It's been a momentous week, especially the last 24 hours  for us Bluebirds fans. Following Vincent Tans assertion in the "Christmas Day" message that we'd stay red, and the dismal, dismal on field showings in the last few weeks, the club announced out of the blue (pun intended) this week that it wanted to have a meeting with supporters, at the request of VT.

And it did. Quickly and apparently efficiently, with key supporter groups, MP's, local businessmen and other interested parties. Hell, it even invited all City fans to email them with their thoughts (and I did).

The meeting took place last night with Chairman Mehmet Dalman, CEO Ken Choo, Manager Russell Slade and others. Very quickly news was circulating on social media that the meeting was positive, friendly, and that the outcome was very likely a return to blue that so many had been calling on. Ever a cynic, I remained to be convinced, but by late evening people who know far better than me and whose opinion I would trust were calling it a done deal. Even so, given the history of our current owners approach to running the club, I took the view that I wouldn't believe it until I heard it myself. And I also suspected it would come with a huge catch.

So at 2pm today at a news conference, it was announced that Cardiff City are indeed going back to blue with immediate effect - so immediate in fact we'll play in blue at tomorrows match v Fulham. And apparently it was all down to VT's mum, who told him to get a grip, or words to that effect.

In an instant, the club has rectified what was a short sighted, unfathomable and lets face it, ridiculous decision that has divided the club, the fans and football generally. The craic is back, and by the looks of it, it's going to be a pretty good day at CCS tomorrow whatever happens on the field (and lets face it, that's still a bit of an issue).

I'm not going to go as far as many in thanking VT profusely and pandering to his ego. I'll give him fair praise for having the balls to admit he needed to accept the reversal of his rebrand and move to red, but frankly, if he'd done the right thing and consulted with everybody two and half years ago, none of this would have happened - and who knows where we'd be now? Certainly most people associated with the Bluebirds from staff to players to fans would have been a lot happier over the last two and a half years.

So, is there a catch? Well yes and no. We'll play away games in a red strip. That's not a big deal, we've played in red away before, and we have to play in some colour. And clearly white didn't go down too well. The horrendous 'beer mat' badge will be redesigned to make the bluebird far more prominent, but also an interestingly incorporate elements "representative" of VT's culture and beliefs. Hmm, forgive me if I hang fire on that one just for the moment.

And finally there's to be a levelling off of the differential in season ticket prices between those like me that were on a 5 year price freeze  (didn't mine go up this year?) and those that weren't. Probably fair and certainly not a 'catch'.

And what of the benefits of this about face, which is being flatly denied as a U turn?

Well for one, a lot of people are going to start buying merchandise if it's blue and has a better badge. I don't know how much City make from merchandise, but it's pretty evident that they've not been selling anywhere near as much in the last two years. I haven't bought anything red in that time and would have continued to give the red stuff the cold shoulder. Give me a blue shirt with a better badge/crest though, and you may well see me in the shop.

The crowds will also pick up. The happiness factor about going back to blue will bring people back who said they'd never return whilst we were in red, as well as help the general demeanour and atmosphere at games, where the crowd can direct support at the team rather than venting frustration and anger at the directors box. Just the feel good factor should help crowd numbers.

We might even see a return of my favourite podcast from the boys at 'View From The Ninian'.

And let's not forget, that thanks to the efforts of all those who fought, in their many and varied different ways for the history and tradition of Cardiff City, that although there's probably still a way to go, we're on the road to having our club back.

Finally of course VT will be ensuring that there's a free blue scarf giveaway at the next midweek match.....maybe I made that last bit up.