Tuesday night saw the visit of Brighton to CCS and the handing out of free red Cardiff scarves to all city fans in attendance.
After the official announcement from the club about the freebie, most supporters had said they would never wear red at a Cardiff City game, and indeed the talk amongst many during Saturday’s 2-1 victory against derby rivals Bristol City, echoed that of the chatter across all social media. The mood was that of bitter rejection of the insulting ‘bribe’- many pledging they were going to accept the ‘Judas scarf’ as one fan next to me called it and launch it onto the pitch.
Posters were distributed and the word was put out that regardless of your acceptance of the rebrand, all supporters should wear blue on Tuesday as a mark of respect to the clubs history, to all the supporters of the past who no longer walk amongst us that the club was more than the sum of its current form, that fans did indeed still carry fire and passion in their bellies. It wasn’t to be a protest at the rebranding, but a defining moment that reunited a badly divided fan base, and a powerful symbol to the watching world that sneers and mocks Cardiff City and its fans.
Those who felt unable to embrace the old were encouraged to wear neutral colours, and some people did indeed do that, it should be noted that they too made a stance!
However, the scaremongers came out in force again, singing the same old tune, that to not wear the ‘generously provided scarves’ would be a direct insult to Vincent Tan the financial backer of Cardiff City, with stark and dire warnings that to dare to alienate him would have consequences – Cardiff would end up like Portsmouth and Rangers, and that it would certainly rob everyone of the long for desired place in the top flight because Mr Tan would feel insulted and demand his investment back immediately!
That scaremongering, coupled with a golden carrot that photographs would be taken of all the supporters and one fan wearing the red scarf would be given a refund on their season ticket or if they were not a season ticket holder they would receive one as their prize excited many – unsurprisingly given the current economical climate.
Alarm bells rang for many, given the hostility that the Keep Cardiff Blue brigade faced day in day out, many who had stood on the side lines refusing to be drawn in questioned whether they wanted to be branded a blue militant. Also, another rumour surfaced, that the club would know by looking at the photographs, who had refused to wear the red scarf and therefore could easily, if they so wish, choose not to allocate tickets for cup ties and away games next season to those who had insulted the rebrand, a brainless and unfounded rumour, but one that did scare a few of the more gullible of the Cardiff City fans.
In the end on a bitterly cold night an alien sight happened at CCS most supporters took the scarf and wore it! Few of the scarves made it into the pitch – supporters were warned by stewards that to do so could result in an abandoned match and docking of points for Cardiff City FC and people who had sworn they wouldn’t be seen dead in red wore one, some wore a red and blue scarf.
Some people left at half time vowing never to return – one of those had been for the rebrand but had felt sick at the sight of a sea of red, one friend of mine who I had bantered with on the subject, had told me he didn’t care if the team played in pink with purple spots said he felt sick and now realised it did matter to him.
People wearing blue were abused – when I say people I mean women and youngsters were abused, verbally and one woman pushed and shoved by scum who in my opinion have no right to a seat in any football ground! The scared sheep mentality won out, this wasn’t a “we hate the Malaysians” protest. This was more about respecting our history and tradition, all those that went before us, all the Dads/Granddads that aren’t beside us – who when we picture them in our minds eye are bedecked in blue and white.
That is how I and many other interpreted the protest and that is why I dyed a section of my hair Bluebird Blue for the game and bought, prior to kick off, my first ever Cardiff city football scarf. old school blue and white which I proudly wore, a symbol of respect to the past, the Dad’s that no longer stand by our sides, maybe one last salute to their era – for the time being at least, I did so with pride against the tide, right up until the moment I too had a torrent of abuse fired at me – the worst of which was whispered chilling into my ear. I promptly, I am ashamed to say tucked my hair into my leather jacket and did likewise with my scarf.
I had gone Blue on the spur of the moment that afternoon, I had intended to dress neutrally, as I usually do, but I had decided I wanted to honour the past – as a historian ( I have a degree in social and economical history) I felt it would be hypocritical of me not to!
In the end Cardiff City lost 2-0 they had a lot of good chances and hit the woodwork and upright on six occasions, but it was another display that was lacking. The difference being that for the first time this season, the sides luck had deserted them.
And those scarves so proudly worn – they weren’t even in team colours, the shade of red was totally wrong and the secondary colour was white! Not the black of the teams strip, add to that the bluebird on the crest was red! The omittance of the word City and the insult to the history of Cardiff City football club was complete!
The in-fighting between fans and supporters has increased and the club has yet to do anything to discourage the bullying that is going on, Talk amongst blues has been the reds were plastics, the new fans who hadn’t been there in the old division four, kids who know nothing, but a look at the photos of supporters shows, the older fans wearing the red scarf and a fair number of ‘kids’ wearing nothing but blue.
It is a very sad state of affairs, elements on both sides red and blue seem unable and unwilling to live and let live and the saddest thing of all is that it has come to this, that a year on from Cardiff City playing in one of the greatest league cup finals in history the supporters who had sang, laughed, looked on nervously, hugged and cried on each other – now can barely manage a civil conversation, a family that has been torn apart, Cardiff City football club sit top of the league, but the celebrations after each victory feel hollow always tempered by a fresh row.