Cardiff City Association Football Club (Welsh: Clwb Pêl-droed Dinas Caerdydd) are a football team based in Cardiff, and are one of the three Welsh clubs competing in the Football League, currently playing in the Football League Championship. They play their home games at Ninian Park and are accredited with having some of the loudest and most fanatical set of supporters in British football.
Cardiff City were founded in 1899 and are the only non-English side to have won any of the three major English competitions. They won the FA Cup in 1927, during a decade when they were one of the strongest sides in the English league. They have also been regular winners of the Welsh Cup, and as the winner of the Cup in 1966-67 gained entry to the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, reaching the semi-finals in 1967-68.
Their history in recent years has been less successful but they have made some improvement in the last few seasons. In 1986, they were relegated to the Fourth Division, and over the next 14 years slipped into the league's basement division three times. In 1996 they were the league's third lowest placed team. However; a Football League Second Division playoff triumph in 2003 lifted them into the Football League First Division; and they are now just one promotion away from reaching the Premiership, which would make them the first non-English team to do so.
Cardiff are one of a handful of Welsh sides to play in the English football league system, rather than the Welsh system. The other teams are Swansea City, Wrexham, Newport County, Merthyr Tydfil and Colwyn Bay. Their most successful period so far was the 1920s in which they finished runners-up to Huddersfield Town F.C in 1924 in the old Football League First Division on Goal Average, followed by two FA Cup Finals in FA Cup Final 1925 against Sheffield United and FA Cup Final 1927 against Arsenal. The Final against Arsenal saw Cardiff become the only team to have taken the FA Cup out of England with a 1-0 victory over Arsenal. The final was also notable as it was the first to be broadcast to the nation by BBC Radio. Cardiff City and Swansea City are the only Welsh football clubs to have played at the highest level of English football. The last season they spent at the First Division was in 1962.
On August 30, 1920, Cardiff City played their first Football League match at Ninian Park, when 25,000 supporters showed up to watch a scoreless draw with Clapton Orient. The first ever Football League victory for Cardiff City, at Ninian Park occurred only 5 days later, when Stockport County were beaten 3-0.
This early Cardiff City team showed more than enough class to match others in the League, and they were promoted to the top flight of English Football at the first attempt. In fact the Champions, Birmingham City only pipped Cardiff City to the title on Goal differential. The average gate for this season was a very impressive 29,000.
Cardiff City now found themselves in the top tier of the Football League (at this time known as the First Division). On January 21, 1922, Len Davies scored the Clubs' first ever top-flight hat-trick in a 6-3 win over Bradford City. Even though their first taste of top-flight football got off to a miserable start, recording only 3 points from the first 7 matches, Cardiff City's form improved fantastically and they eventually finished in fourth position.
The 1923-24 has proved to be the best ever in the league for Cardiff City. After a dramatic season in which themselves and Huddersfield Town tussled for the Championship title, Cardiff went in to the last game of the year, one point ahead of second placed Huddersfield.
Huddersfield eventually beat their opponents on the day, Nottingham Forest by a scoreline of 3-0, meaning for Cardiff City to lift their first ever league title they would have to overcome Birmingham City. With the scoreline deadlocked at 0-0, Cardiff City were awarded a penalty. Top scorer Len Davies took the spot kick, however missed form 12 yards and Birmingham City held out for a draw, meaning Cardiff would have to settle for 2nd spot on goal difference. Although having scored 1 more goal than Huddersfield during the season, Cardiff also conceded 1 more meaning they had a worse scoring to conceding ratio of 1.794 compared with Huddersfield's 1.818 which eventually meant Huddersfield went on to be the First Division champions of the 1923/1924 season.
The following season was the first time Cardiff City appeared at Wembley Stadium (1924). In the first round of the FA Cup (then known as the English Cup) Cardiff City beat Darlington and this was then followed by a 1-0 home win against Fulham F.C. in round two. The Bluebirds then travelled to Meadow Lane in Round 3 where they defeated Notts County 2-0 before an epic Quarter Final tie between Leicester City almost dashed Cardiff hearts. With the scorelines locked at 1-1, Welsh international Willie Davies scored directly from a corner with the last kick of the game to send Cardiff through to the Semi-Finals against Blackburn Rovers. Cardiff City tore the Rovers defence apart and raced away with a 3-1 victory to set up a final against Sheffield United. After a dour final played out in front of 91,763 fans, the game was decided by an England International Fred Tunstall who scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory for Sheffield United.
The 1926-27 season was Cardiff's worst performance in the top tier of English Football since thay had entered via promotion six seasons prior. They had a fairly miserable time in the league, by their high standards, finishing in 14th position. However the 1926-27 season did not go down in the history books as another year, in which Cardiff City ended it without a major trophy to show for their efforts.
Cardiff entered the competition in the 3rd round, where they met and defeated Aston Villa 2-1 at Ninian Park. Trips to Darlington and subsequently to Bolton Wanderers in the 4th and 5th rounds respectively, both finished with the same scorelines; 2-0 wins for Cardiff City.
In the Quarter-Finals, Cardiff met a youthful and promising side, in another away fixture, this time against Chelsea. A goalless draw was played at Stamford Bridge, in front of a massive 70,184 people. At the replay at Ninian Park another 47,854 people crammed in. Having led 2-0 thanks to goals by Sam Irving and Len Davies, Cardiff City allowed Chelsea to get back into the fixture, and soon after half-time the scores were once again level at 2-2. As the tie began to look destined for another draw, Hughie Ferguson netted the winning goal from the penalty spot. At the Semi-Final stage, Cardiff City met Reading at Molineux and Cardiff ended up as comfortable 3-0 victors.
On St George's Day, April 23, 1927, Wembley Stadium, London; The FA Cup was taken out of England for the first and only time when Cardiff City beat Arsenal thanks to a goal by Cardiff City cult hero, Hughie Ferguson.
In the 74th minute, collecting a throw from the right, Ferguson hurried a tame shot toward the Arsenal goal. Dan Lewis, the Arsenal goalkeeper, appeared to collect the ball but, under pressure from the advancing Len Davies, clumsily allowed the ball to roll through his grasp; in a desperate attempt to retrieve the ball, Lewis only succeeded in knocking the ball with his elbow into his own net. Ernie Curtis, the 19 year old centre-wing said of the goal:
"I was in line with the edge of the penalty area on the right when Hughie Ferguson hit the shot which Arsenal's goalie ( had crouched down for a little early. The ball spun as it travelled towards him, having taken a slight deflection so he was now slightly out of line with it. Len Davies was following the shot in and I think Dan must have had one eye on him. The result was that he didn't take it cleanly and it squirmed under him and over the line. Len jumped over him and into the net, but never actually touched it."
It is believed that this cup final, attracted one of the highest audiences ever, as it was the first to be broadcast by BBC Radio. Captain Fred Keenor received the FA Cup trophy from King George V only 7 years after Cardiff City had entered the Football League, and six seasons since they had been promoted to the top division.
Ferguson still features on the record books for Cardiff City, having scored five goals in the First Division fixture with Burnley on September 1, 1928 (his 32 goals in all competitions in 1926-27 stood until Robert Earnshaw overtook it in March 2003). He scored the first in the 2-1 victory over Corinthians in the 1927-28 Charity Shield and his two goals won the Welsh Cup later that same season for Cardiff against Bangor; but despite a healthy return of 77 goals during his four seasons there his days at Ninian Park were numbered.
Cardiff often qualified for the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup during this period (despite not having top flight status) through winning the Welsh Cup. They qualified a record 5 times in total between 1967-68 and 1971-72 however FIFA legislation has prevented Cardiff qualifying to UEFA competitions through this route in modern times.
The next few years
That FA Cup Final win, was not the end of their cup exploits this season; as they also won the Welsh Cup defeating Rhyl FC by a scoreline of 2-0, and would go on to win the Charity Shield after beating Corinthians F.C. 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.
The following season 1928/1929 once again resulted in a top flight, top 6 finish for Cardiff City. Having led the Championship for a brief spell during mid-season, their performances began to tail off, and they had to setlle for 6th place.
In the 1929/1930 Season Cardiff City were relegated from the First Division of the Football League, despite conceding the least amount of goals of all teams in the division that year. However, this was only a sign of things to come for the Bluebirds, and after two seasons in the Second Division, they were once again relegated in 1931 into Division 3 South having played 42 league matches, and only managing to win 8. During this time in the lowest division of recognised League Football; Cardiff City were once again able to show some promise, and in fact they recorded their biggest ever win in the Football League, when they destroyed Thames A.F.C. by a scoreline of 9-2. Results however continued to be below what was expected by the City faithful, and therefore in May 1933, Fred Stewart resigned after a fantastic 22 years in charge of the club.
Bartley Wilson was chosen to replace Fred Stewart; however the results continued to be extremely disappointing, and in March 1934, Ben Watts-Jones, was given the opportunity to manage the club he had supported as a youngster. However, he was unable to turn the clubs' fortunes around by the end of the season; meaning Cardiff City were forced to apply for re-election after finishing bottom of the division. Watts-Jones remained in charge for another three years until he was replaced by Bill Jennings, a former Welsh international who had been brought to the club originally as trainer four years previous.
To add to the club's woes, in January 1937 the centre stand at Ninian Park was destroyed by fire. However; this caused the fans and club members to pull together, in order to save the club. Suddenly, there were signs that the worst was over both on and off the field. The teams' results began to improve over the next two seasons, and in turn; this meant that more fans were coming to Ninian Park in order to see their beloved team's revival. The 1938-39 season saw the debut of a resourceful Winger who would be a prominent member of future City sides; Billy Baker, however a final league position of 13th in the division was not thought to be good enough by new chairman Herbert Merrett, and he appointed Cyril Spiers as secretary-manager to replace Jennings for the 1939-40 season. That season; Spiers set about changing the personnel, bringing in a number of new faces including Forward Trevor Morris from Ipswich and also young centre forward Wilfred Wooller, a Welsh Rugby International who was also to captain Glamorgan at Cricket. World War II caused the suspension of the Football League in September 1939; and this suspension continued until the 1947 Season
Barren domestic spell
Between 1985 and 2003, Cardiff were continuously in the lower two divisions of the league after being relegated to the Third Division. Five years later they dropped into the Fourth Division. Cardiff won the new Division Three championship in 1993 but were relegated two years later, and in 1996 finished in their lowest-ever league position - 22nd of 24 in Division Three, with only Scarborough F.C. and Torquay United below them. They did better the following season, finishing seventh (although they lost in the playoff semi finals), but suffered a setback and slipped into the bottom half of the table in 1998. They finished third in Division Three in 1999 and won automatic promotion to Division Two.
Cardiff struggled in Division Two throughout the 1999-2000 season and were relegated in 21st place. They finished Division Three runners-up the following season and have made impressive progress since then, helped by the investment of Lebanese businessman Sam Hammam.
Sam Hammam era
Having sold his interests in Wimbledon F.C., Sam Hammam purchased control of Cardiff City in August 2000, for a sum believed to be in the region of £11.5 million. Sam Hammam quickly picked up where he left off with the Crazy Gang. Shortly after taking over at Cardiff, Hammam controversially pledged to get the entire Welsh nation to support Cardiff by renaming the club "The Cardiff Celts" and changing the club colours to green, red and white. However, after lengthy talks with senior players and fans, Sam Hammam decided that the best policy was not to change the name of the club; however the club crest was redesigned. This new design incorporated the Cardiff City mascot Bartley the Bluebird, in front of the Flag of Saint David; and featured the Club's nickname superimposed at the top of the crest. Flags of Saint David can often be seen flown at Ninian Park, with the slogan "Welsh not British".
Lennie Lawrence guided Cardiff to promotion via a Division Two playoff triumph in 2003 against Queens Park Rangers F.C.. Cardiff City finished in 6th position and played Bristol City in the Division Two playoff semi-finals. On May 10th 2003; Cardiff City beat Bristol City 1-0 on aggregate, having won the match at Ninian Park 1-0 , and drawing the away leg 0-0 on May 13th 2003. Queens Park Rangers drew with Oldham Athletic away from home 1-1 on May 10th 2003, before claiming the advantage at Loftus Road on May 14th 2003; going through to the playoff final with a 2-1 aggregate victory.
On May 25; the Millennium Stadium, in Cardiff, hosted one of the most unforgettable playoff finals in history. Both Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers had been set up with defence minded formations. The game was comparatively scrappy with only occasional glimpses of class shown by both sides. However after a nerve-wracking final, substitute Andy Campbell came off the bench to guide Cardiff past Queens Park Rangers with a spectacular lob after 114 minutes of play.
The former Middlesbrough F.C striker, who had replaced Robert Earnshaw in the second half, shrugged off Danny Shittu and then calmly lobbed Chris Day, the Queens Park Rangers Goalkeeper to ensure Cardiff returned to Division One after an 18-year absence. Chances had been few and far between in normal time, but as both sets of players tired, the game opened up in those nail-biting final 30 minutes. No more so than when Day made a superb one-handed save from a Spencer Prior header after Graham Kavanagh's in-swinging free-kick.
Cardiff City have remained at Championship level ever since. However, Lawrence was relieved of his duties to make way for David Jones in 2005.
The record transfer paid by Cardiff City for a player is £1.7 million to Stoke City for Peter Thorne in 2001. The previous record was £1 million for Graham Kavanagh, also from Stoke, set only a few weeks earlier. The club have also paid fees in excess of £1m for Defender Darren Purse from West Bromwich Albion, £950,000 for striker Andy Campbell from Middlesbrough and £850,000 for another striker, Alan Lee from Rotherham United.
The record transfer fee received is up to £5 million for Michael Chopra which activated a release clause in his contract. This transfer occurred on the 13th of July during the summer transfer market of 2007 - 2008 when he transferred to newly promoted Premiership side Sunderland A.F.C. In 2006 the club received £3 million for Cameron Jerome when he transferred to Birmingham City. Cardiff also received a similar amount for the sale of Welsh International striker Robert Earnshaw and a combined £3.5m fee from West Ham United for the services of Welsh International defenders Danny Gabbidon and James Collins.
Cardiff made an excellent start to the 2006-07 season, topping the table by November and becoming most people's favourites for promotion. But their form cooled off over the winter, and into the final weeks of the season it was looking unlikely that they could claim even a playoff place.
After failing to get the new stadium plans agreed by Cardiff Council due to concerns over financial security in 2006, Hammam agreed to a £27 million takeover by a consortia led by new chairman Peter Ridsdale and including lead developer of the new stadia Paul Guy. However, the takeover was in doubt until Friday 22 December 2006 with the club in threat of administration until the consortia agreed to pay Hammam's company Rudgwick an extra £500,000 and £90,000 to Hammam's brother. Ex-Wales rugby captain Mike Hall said after the deal was completed: "That was money which would have been spent on players. But instead it's gone into Sam's pocket. It was the only way the deal was going to be done. I know people say he's a complex character, but at the end it was total greed and self-interest. It was amazing, but football is a murky world."
On the Bright Side
The 2002 2003 campaign proved to be a great one for Cardiff City FC as they were in emphatic form in the second division, once again reaching the play offs as they finished of the campaign in sixth position. They won the play off final to gain promotion in to the first division, playing in the second tier of English football for the first time since 1985. The Bluebirds crashed out of the FA cup in the third round as they suffered defeat against Coventry city and suffered defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in the second round of the league cup. The bluebirds established themselves as a first division side during the 2003 2004 season as they finished it off in an impressive 13th position. They struggled to a 16th position finish at the end of the 2004 2005 campaign and saw renewed hope as they were impressive in the 2005 2006 season with an eleventh position finish. Cardiff City had many fine players at their disposal at the start of the 21st century, including Robert Earnshaw, Jason Koumas, John Robinson, Graham Kavanagh, Darren Purse and Danny Gabbidon.
The new ownership has brought happiness back to Cardiff City. After being £40 million in debt, most of which has been cleared, Cardiff City will hopefully be playing for years to come. Despite a promising start to the season, when Cardiff were early season pace setters, a miserable run of form towards the end of the season was responsible for causing Cardiff to plummet down the table; finally finishing with 64 points and 13 position.
The Cardiff City manager, Dave Jones has promised a clearout during the summer holidays, with around 17 players being shown the exit door, either by contract termination, transfer to another club or no contract extension. Although many may have considered Cardiff to be worthy promotion contenders, their lack of top-class training facilities, as well as an over reliance on Michael Chopra cost them dear. A youthful, small, industrious squad had been built by Dave Jones, however; injuries and suspensions cost them dear.
Since Peter Ridsdale has become the new owner of the club, they are currently alleged to be in £30m worth of debt, although this has been strongly denied by the club.
Cardiff City's most significant rivalry over the last 25 years was with neighbours Newport County and Swansea City; though traditionally there is also plenty of ill-feeling between the club's supporters and followers of Bristol City (and Bristol Rovers to a lesser extent). In April 2006 relationships between Cardiff City supporters and Swansea City supporters were not helped after Swansea won the Football League Trophy final against Carlisle United 2-1 in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. During their celebrations, Lee Trundle and Alan Tate brandished a Welsh flag with an anti-Cardiff obscenity written on it in huge black writing. As well as carrying the flag, Trundle was also seen wearing a T-shirt with an image of a Swansea City player urinating on a Cardiff City shirt. The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said the images paraded at the match, which took place at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on 2 April, were "of an extremely offensive and insulting nature and such behaviour is totally unacceptable". After committing these deeds the two players in question were arrested by the Police on suspicion of section four public order offences, fined £2,000, and handed one match suspensions.
Over several previous meetings between Cardiff City and Wolverhampton Wanderers fighting has broken out between the two sets of supporters resulting in 17 arrests during one meeting last season. This has led to the most recent meeting between the two sides 20/01/07, being moved forward to 1.00pm with no Cardiff City fans allowed to attend the match. This decision which was taken by Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club Chairman, Jez Moxey, was somewhat of a first for British Football, and was met with widespread criticism from many supporter groups throughout the UK, including the FSF (Football Supporters' Federation). A peaceful protest, organised by the FSF, took place in Wolverhampton on the day of the game and was attended by fans of many clubs who wished to show their opposition to such a ban. An FSF statement read: "We are appealing to all football supporters who can make it to be there to show their opposition to all away fan bans. It could be your club next. Time to reclaim the game!" Famous fans include Charlotte Church, who featured in a Walkers Crisp advertisement promoting The Bluebirds.
Cardiff City are currently hoping to build a state of the art 25,000 seater stadium on the site of the nearby Leckwith Athletics Stadium. The project also includes a retail park and requires the rebuilding of the existing athletics stadium at another location.
The plan requires the demolition of the existing Leckwith athletics stadium, which the council are insisting the replacement of is built before the start of construction on the new football stadium. This will avoid the city being without a major athletics facility for up to 11 months between the demolition of Leckwith and the building of a new athletics facility nearby. But developers have said that the main infrastructure work including highway improvements, drainage, gas supply and electricity cables can be carried out in a way that will allow Leckwith to remain open until July 2007.
Work began on the new athletics stadium in January 2007 with the track and throwing areas expected to be open for use by the end of July 2007. The new athletics stadium is expected to be completed by October 2007 and it is hoped that Cardiff City F.C.'s stadium will open in December 2008, in a motion agreeing the schedule by Cardiff Council on 27 November 2006.
On September 20, 2007 it was announced that the Cardiff Blues rugby union club are to leave their Cardiff Arms Park home to ground share with Cardiff City FC at the new Leckwith stadium.
- Record Attendance: 62,634. Wales vs. England. October 17, 1959
- Club Record Attendance: 57,893. vs. Arsenal
- Year Formed: 1899 (as Riverside F. C.)
- Previous Names: 1899 Riverside F. C.; 1902 Riverside Albion; 1908 Cardiff City
- Previous Grounds: Riverside, Sophia Gardens, Old Park and Fir Gardens ninan park until 1910
- Record League victory: 9-2 vs. Thames. Third Division South. February 6, 1932
- Record FA Cup victory: 8-0 vs. Enfield F.C.. FA Cup First Round. November 28, 1931
- Record Welsh Cup victory: 16-0 vs. Knighton Town, Welsh Cup Fifth Round, 1961
- Record defeat: 2-11 vs Sheffield United January 1, 1926
- Most goals in one season: Robert Earnshaw - 35. (31 league, 4 cup) 2002/03
- Most league goals in total Aggregate: Len Davies - 128. 1920 to 1931
- Most capped player: Alf Sherwood (Wales) - 39
- Most league appearances: Phil Dwyer - 471. 1972 to 1985
- Joint record UEFA Cup Winners' Cup appearances - 5
- English F.A. Cup winners 1927
- English F.A. Cup runners-up 1925
- English F.A. Cup semi-finalists 1921
- F.A. Charity Shield Winners 1927
- Division 1 runners-up 1924
- Division 2 runners-up 1921, 1952, 1960
- Division 3(south) Champions 1947
- Division 3 Champions 1993
- Division 3 runners-up 1976, 1983
- Division 4 runners-up 1988
- Welsh F.A. Cup Winners 1912, 1920, 1922, 1923, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1956, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1988, 1992, 1993
- European Cup-Winner's Cup semi-finalists 1968
- F.A.W Premier Cup Winners 2002
- Division 2 Play-Off Winners 2003
- F.A.W Invitation Cup Runners Up 1998