Hindsight and Horror: Our Cardiff Nemesis

I WAS going to write something today about the painful prospect of playing our unwitting dream-wrecking Nemesis Cardiff; about how the FA Cup quarter-final car-crash was a watershed moment, a couple of dozen nails in the coffin of the Riverside Revolution and maybe even the fateful moment when our hearts collectively felt the entire project lurch backwards towards the slippery slope. A lot of people point to the embarrassing spirit shrinking small screen spanking as the moment when it all started to go horribly wrong.
But I’ve been beaten to the punch on that by two excellent Boro blogs. Andrew Glover’s excellent Ayresome Gates site has deconstructed the emotional contradictions of the word “Cardiff” from the highs of the Millenium Stadium to the lows of the FA Cup drubbing while Stateside stalwart Stewart Flaharty looks at The Ghosts of Failures Past on the Bleacher Report blog. You should add both sites to your bookmarks.
For my contribution and to help contextualise those two perceptive articles here’s one I made earlier. To add to our contemporary analysis, hindsight and growing sense of horror here’s some colour from the time that shows how high we all believed the stakes were before the game and how deep the damage was felt in the aftermath.
First a jittery and emotional live blog/match report from the game itself and then, second, a sullen sift through the wreckage a few days later. Relive the horror.


38 thoughts on “Hindsight and Horror: Our Cardiff Nemesis

  1. While not wanting to be a Cassandra, I said loudly and longly at the time that this match would prove to be our generations Wolves 81 equivalent. And sadly it is coming to pass…

  2. I re-read your Blog from the game. I remember the desolation we felt after the game. A massive opportunity was there to grasp and we threw it away.
    Being realistic, there is very little chance these days that, if you were lucky enough to get to an FA Cup final, the opposition waiting for you wouldn’t be one of the Big Boys – Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool or Man City. So you’d still be heavy underdogs in the final. And we had a chance of getting to a final and being favourites! I don’t expect that to happen again anytime soon.
    I can remember how Cardiff had a very young lad on the left called Aaron Ramsey who was head and shoulders better than anything we had on the field that day, despite how much we had paid for some of our players. It was the biggest of disappointments.

  3. That was good live match report AV. Better than the bitty live blog you do now. And the comments from posters on there make for interesting reading too now looking back. You mention hindsight but it is clear a lot of bloggers saw this coming there and then (and there is even a few calling for Mogga.)
    There is quite a few names on that thread who don’t post on here now – Pat Mc in Dubai, Nigel in Mumbai, Neil in Baku, Dave Connor, Tony Black. It is just like the real Boro with a lot of old diehards drifting away. No one is interested. Past caring. Apathy rules. That’s Boro real problem now.

  4. AV – how could you do it to us? After months of painful therapy I’d almost managed to block out the memory of that fateful day.
    Anyway, expectation levels probably couldn’t be lower for tomorrow. I’m expecting the worse, and hoping for a point (although we really need three).
    But then again, with the pressure off, who knows? Boro never deliver when they’re expected to (reference: Cardiff FA cup debacle), so perhaps we’ll see a “typical Boro” barnstorming win tomorrow?
    It’s the hope that kills you.

  5. I always hated Cardiff! Older fans might remember their visits in the late 60’s / early 70’s – they used to have a centre half called Don Murray who used to make Chopper Harris look like Beckenbauer. Every year he used to kick seven bells out of big John. I can recall at least one sending off, total animal. Almost made Prima Noctae look like a viable option

  6. I tried to post but someone was varnishing the cache server. No wonder we have problems, varnish and computers do not mix.
    The match itself was painful but worse was to follow.
    We had decided to go to London for a family weekend and, Baldrick like, I devised a cunning plan. We booked a hotel, King Tut at the O2, Terracotta Army at the British Museum and a show for semi final weekend. Alex and I would leave mum, daughter and girlfriend shopping and we would head off to Wemberley Way.
    Arghhhhh! The hotel was full of Barnsley, Cardiff and Pompey fans.
    I was reduced to walking round the British Museum singing ‘Red Army’ with no response from the Terracotta warriors and funny looks from sundry visitors. I also got some admonishments from wife and daughter.
    To add insult to injury the show was Wicked. Very good but entirely apt.
    Now I have just watched Graham convert a Taylor cross for Watford.
    Symbolism or what?

  7. I don’t think that Cardiff game was the start of the big slide. That came at Eindhoven. But it was the beginning of the end for Southgate.
    Not many were convinced from the start but losing that game in such gutless and inept fashion meant thousands decided there and then he wasn’t a manager, couldn’t motivate and the only way was down. Gibson should have made the change on the Monday morning. We would still be in the Prem now.

  8. Er wha, what day is it?
    Fear not boro fans Juninihoena arrived on Wednesday and she will re-align the ying that Smog Jnr knocked in to a yang hat, or summat. I’ve been banned by Mrs Strop from going to the game(thankful for small mercies). But I will try a sporadic if chotic BJ apperance.
    PS. Boydy has been top notch bringing up wind in the night. Problem is it’s his own!!
    **AV writes: Congratulations. Untypical Boro: Breeding the crowd of the future. The rest of you, get cracking.

  9. It was quite interesting browsing through the posts of yesteryear following the Cardiff no-show.
    I noticed that the negative comments had encouraged our eternal optimist BoroPhil to make his first post – though his reprimand of Dave Connor for declaring after only three games that Alves was a complete waste of money was perhaps in hindsight unwarranted.
    I even managed to post some kind of match analysis (dump Arca, drop Mido until he’s fit) – those were the days when overseas fans had more than two minutes of Championship action at around 1.00am to look forward (?) to.
    Also congrats to Smog at least you now have something else to take your mind off the football – As for breeding the next generation AV? I’m not confident Kleinermouth will choose Boro over Bremen.

  10. Cheers AV, Si in the USA (Berwick Hills), Attila, Brandon , Jarkko and everyone else for your kind congratulations. Its been a weird and wonderful week but what a way to end. Three points! Beautiful.
    I can’t promise Juninhoena’s birth will lead the charge to the promised land (20th in the chimpship) but hopefully cancel out the bad Juju from Smog Jnr, mind you his first game was a 2-1 win over Spurs.
    But hand on heart at 15:43 on Wednesday afternoon Juninhoena popped along. 72 hours later Julio scores the winner. Lowly Boro beat high-flying Cardiff. Coincidence?
    Then a terrifying thought occurred to me. Did we win because I wasn’t there? I will accept cash/nappies to stay away (apart from Boxing day, obviously)
    Anyhow its Saturday night. Three points. Let’s party, I’m gonna stay up till half nine!! Boydy can do the night shift.
    We’re Middlesbro!!!!!

  11. To think I could have gone to Cruffs with the rest of the family and friends when we played Cardiff in FA Cup a couple of seasons. What a dismal, depressing afternoon that was.
    And when I think further back to the sixties, our 3-3 draw a Rooks hat- trick and we still are relegated and before then I remember Stan Anderson’s debut against Cardiff when he got sent off after throwing one of the best right hooks I have seen on a football field.
    However today we nailed them good and proper, with an effective, efficient win, thoroughly deserved and easily the best team performance of the season. Its the first time I have left the stadium in a long, long time with a contented glow. Mogga got everything right today. Well done lads.

  12. It’s 2:00 AM, I go to the blog and there is nothing about today’s win! What’s happened? Has something untoward befallen AV? Usually there would be a post describing today’s events. The absence of any kind of observation is worrying!
    Praise for the new back four, a new found hope in Mogga’s tactics, or is it just that a piece that was written beforehand describing the latest loss has suddenly become redundant?
    Today was a turning point in the balance of luck that helps to make or break a season. Can I dare hope that our luck is finally changing? The script had been written, Cardiff would confirm our recent poor form. Today was a surprise result, hopefuly we can build on it.
    **AV writes: I had to go out straight after the game and drink vast quantities of alcohol. I didn’t want to. A big boy made me do it then ran away.

  13. So Mr Strachan was right after all. It was karma.
    Now that Smogonthetyne now on the Moon has taken care of that side of the business, I hope the Boro lads will start a run under Mogga. Yes, and we have the January window to look forward to – a right winger bought, perhaps?
    I am enjoying the feeling – at least until the next game. That’s the whole point of being a supporter, isn’t it. Up the Boro!

  14. Congrats to Mr and Mrs Smog, I hope Boydie doesnt slip the little one any fried mars bars.
    Points from unexpected sources and long overdue. We moved up the pecking order on TV but still only got 60 seconds.

  15. Great result!
    Today we got some of the fight and determination that’s been missing all too often – and on a day when we finally got a bit of luck.
    After the last couple of games maybe the signs really are there.
    Let’s not start talking about promotion just yet though eh!

  16. I haven’t posted for a while because I’ve not been feeling too disapointed since Mogga took over, I thought it would take a while to sort thing out (6 month or so, not kidding).
    So believe it or not I’m in a happy place at the moment. Not as happy as Smogonthetyne (congrats by the way) but for the first time for ages I’m optimistic regarding the future.
    I realise we still have money problems with the wages we are paying, no chance of off loading any of those players because of that, even for free but on the field I really believe that things will come good and we can kick on next year.
    Denis – My memory tells me that we lost 6-3 when Dickie got 3 whilst playing centre forward but I could be wrong.

  17. ChilliRed said: “Let’s not start talking about promotion just yet though eh!”
    I think we can say there is a lot of positives to say we can avoid the drop. But I calculated that if we’d play like QPR has done until Friday (undefeated) from yesterday onwards we would still miss the play-off places (but only just).
    So let’s concentrate on getting in mid table this season. And promotion next season. Well done Mogga. Up the Boro!

  18. Let’s see when AV is fully fit. If the hang-over is bad after all the celebration we will see a new post tomorrow.
    But after watching all the terrible footy on offer for the past year you, AV did deserve it. Hope Boro keep up the new result level – even if we don’t get a report the same night!
    Up the Boro!

  19. Hope springs eternal – I was one of many who didn’t give Boro a cat in hells chance yesterday against a fading still second in the Championship Cardiff.
    Not sure what you did Mogga, however lets have plenty more and start to put some pride back into the rag tag and bobtail outfit we call a football team.
    Come on Boro

  20. Ha ha ChilliRed
    Coming home after the game last night I could not believe how many people mentioned that if we win the next two games then play offs here we come.
    C’Mon Boro!

  21. AV – I drink heavily every sat night and still get up Sunday to read your post match stuff. Imagine today having to keep sneaking of from the Sunday chores and now its midnight and still nothing. Could almost drive me to cricket! Cmon chop chop what’s the hold up?
    **AV writes: Out last night then had to take the boy to a gymnastics competition today and wasn’t ready to take the lappy with me. Mundane stuff I know but no matter what you lot think I am not a 24 hour writing machine. I’ll scrawl something later.

  22. What a fantastic result, we really grafted for it, it wasn’t the best footballing performance you’ll ever see, but we wanted it more.
    Thomson was superb, man of the match, Bailey impressed again and almost scored a cracking volley. GON as always, looks a lot better on the right than in the middle.
    The two centre-halves were outstanding, Hines just slotted in like he plays every week, and behind them Steele had another solid game.
    What was refreshing was Mogga’s interview after the game, in the first half I was a bit frustrated that we weren’t closing them down enough. He explained that this was his tactic, to give them the ball and for us to effectively play on the counter-attack. Can you imagine Strachan talking about tactics or explaining decisions? Mowbray is a class above.
    Oh, and the atmosphere was superb towards the end, people all over the ground were stood up and singing (Red Faction were excellent for 90 minutes), I keep saying this, but if we can get a few more in it would have to be a real boost for the team.
    Looking forward to Friday now, my first away game of the season, let’s hope the weather is kind.

  23. Debate on whether the foul on Emnes was a penalty or free kick. I think Cardiff can count themselves lucky it wasnt a red card so maybe that balances out whether it was inside the box or not.

  24. Ugh, Hangover this morning!!! Up late celebrating a Boro win. Just not used to it anymore – the booze and the win that is.
    I was also celebrating the birth of our latest (good luck charm) supporter.
    Congrats again Mr and Mrs Smog! Or was it the milk man?

  25. Smogonthetyne Now on Nappy Duty –
    Congratulations! Brilliant tactics!
    Wednesday’s result perhaps, but don’t think you can claim all of the credit for yesterday’s by your enforced absence. I didn’t go either – by choice. Victory was thus guaranteed!
    How about Juanille? It’s still in keeping with the latin theme and you could have the new Holgate End singing to her spontaneously on the odd occasion.
    **AV writes: Boydette? Hicktonia?
    Well done (again) Mrs Smog!
    And, as an afterthought, I suppose, Boro as well.

  26. When was the last time a Boro manager gave an educated, insightful and tactically astute after match interview. When was the last time we seen a Boro team sticking to a gameplan and not look like terrified rabbits in Headlamps?
    I was surprised to see Hoyte given the nod at RB especially as the defence was already unsteadied by the Rock’s suspension. Hoyte seemed a bit hesitant to use his pace and sprint down the flanks in the opening 20 minutes then it appeared he was given the nod from the bench to get up and down the wing and went on to have probably his best game in a Boro shirt.
    It looked to me that for the 1st time he actually knew what was expected of him and more importantly how he was supposed to do it. More evidence I suspect of organised tactical coaching and Mogga instilling belief in individuals.
    Hines came in to fill Wheat’s boots and alongside Captain Bates the pair of them put in a sterling, composed and confident shift, absolutely no sign of wobbles or weakness anywhere!
    Bennett sometimes needs to compose himself when defending but nevertheless stretched the Cardiff midfield and defence with his left wing forays. With a bit of luck we may have a young Gareth Bale on our hands! Despite his sometimes defensive naivity he gives us an extra dimension plus Arca is never far from his side when he does go all “Gung Ho”. Speaking of Arca he again put in another excellant display capped by his sensibly struck penalty.
    When Emnes was bundled to the ground and the ref pointed to the spot I immediately thought great – then thought who on Earth do I want to take it?
    McDonald maybe but after Blackpool away last season maybe not. thankfully Lita was not around but neither was Boyd or Robson. Then I thought oh no not our own Jonny Wilkinso’neil. All I wanted was a calm sensible mature head to step up and then out of the melee of bodies I spied the quiet unassuming Julio. He calmly put the ball down, looked in control, unfazed and planted it without fuss in the extreme bottom corner sending the Keeper the wrong way in the process. Hallejulio!!!!!
    Steele kept a clean sheet, GON played his best game this season. Tommo didn’t flinch from a single challenge, got clattered and then got straight back up for more and lasted the 90 minutes. Scott and Emnes ran themselves into the ground.
    My only slight critiscism is that in the last 15 minutes there were some very tired legs out there and a few subs may have given us a bit more energy and Cardiff a few more concerns in the middle of the park and at the back.
    In fairness to Mogga he didn’t resort to timewasting sub tactics and let the lads get on with finishing what they had started. A final word for the fans, again absolutely brilliant giving their all and bringing a half empty Riverside alive.

  27. Today – The man of the match was Mogga. He read the Cardiff tea leaves and created a shape, a balance, and an approach specifically designed to stop and rebound the waves of pace and talent that could have swept us away.
    Cardiff are good, very good. But today we used the luck that came our way and wrapped around it some hard work and above all an organisation I have not seen for a long time.
    The team was an interconnection of mini teams, two banks of four – left midfield looking after his young left back; right midfield looking after his young right back; old CH talking young CH through the game; central midfield pair playing for each other rather than competing with each other.
    Up front – well we never really looked like doing anything but worrying them – but on the day – that was enough.
    If you where there you will like me have slipped and slid your way back to the car with penguin arms out to keep balance but a rye smile on your face. If you were not there you missed a team coaching demo of the highest standard.
    Mogga 1 Cardiff City 0

  28. The last 20 minutes were a bit nerve racking but no doubt in my mind the players deserved their bit of luck keeping their clean sheet for carrying out the game plan to the letter.
    I agree wholeheartedly with the comments above about the post match interview and the degree to which TM obviously does his homework on the opposition.Can you imagine the clueless Strachan ever discussing tactics like that?
    A particular well done to Seb Hines playing his first game for 15 months after terrible injury problems.He showed a cool head and could yet have a bright future with the club.
    Lets hope this is the start of a steady improvement which will haul us clear of the abyss.

  29. percypieblocks – I thought it was 6-3 to Cardiff as well.
    Last two seasons only been to two home games 3-0 over Scunny last season and our relief inducing win yesterday. Will probably go to a few after Xmas as i believe and hope our new regime will take off.
    Thought we were sadly lacking up front although Emnes did shake them up at times even though he did go down too easy at times looking for free kicks. A few good crosses came over in first half and i think Boydie may have converted one or two but its a win and a clean sheet to boot.
    Dont think Wheats should walk back into team next week as Seb Hines did well. Are we on the box next Friday? I have heard that we will try to ship out the big earners in Jan or end of season and that Mogga doesn’t fancy Boyd, Mcdonald, Robson and Lita for starters.

  30. Parkend –
    Dunne looks to be struggling at Villa so expect more interest from that quarter.
    The ones you think Mogga doesnt fancy seem logical. He isnt playing Boyd, McDonald and Robson left when he was at Celtic, Lita is a loose cannon and you doubt he will ever be composed. Of the four Robson has not been available and McDonald is a starter so they might be staying

  31. Actually –
    “If O’Neil could finish he’d be player of the season and in the England squad.”
    – was the favourite bit of my post in the old Cardiff thread.

  32. Great result against a top side.I think the team were down and out at the final whistle after working very hard. Just goes to show how hard this league is to get out of.
    Even though Donny are a bit lower than Cardiff in the pecking order it will be just as tough on Friday hope we can get at least a draw out of it.
    Well done.

  33. I think centre-half Dicky Rooks hat-trick on the last day at Cardiff was in a 4-3 defeat – certainly not 6-3.
    I think one was a header, one a penalty and one direct from a free-kick. Not a typical centre-back performance!

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