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Saturday, April 03, 2010


Chopra celebrates most important derby goal (ever?)
Football derbies all over the world can generate passions unrivalled by any other sporting event. Where ever you go in the world, whether it be Boca Juniors v River Plate in Argentina, AC Milan v Inter Milan, Spartak Moscow v CSKA Moscow, Milwall v West Ham or Celtic V Rangers, grown men lose the plot and want their team to beat their local rivals more than any other team in the world. The local derby can take on more importance than the FA Cup, promotion or a game against a footballing giant like Chelsea or Arsenal.

The passion often goes beyond the pitch and spills into violence between fans. Some teams have fans that cause agro wherever they go, but throw the derby element into the mix and even the most mild-mannered supporter will be overcome by an irrational hatred of 'them from down the road'. Add into the mix two sets of fans with a reputation for violence and you have an explosive combination.

There are several rivalries within British football that are a nightmare for the local constabulary, but Cardiff v Swansea is an event that over the years has built a reputation for being one of the most violent clashes in the UK. Last year's games, the first for over ten years, saw police operations on a scale second only to the G8, with plod from five police forces involved in escorting a convoy of coaches along the M4 from one ground to another and no independent travel allowed.

Today we have a few extra ingredients to make the encounter even spicier than usual. This was to be our first meeting at the shiny new Cardiff city stadium - and both teams are in ‘play off’ positions, with the prize of premiership football potentially only six games away. The Welsh media have been building it up as the most important derby the two clubs have every played – EVER.

So how do the hardcore prepare for a game of such importance? No idea. Our little posse prepared by hitting the pub. Following on from last year's 11am Sunday morning kick off, this year -much to the displeasure of the police - we had a 5:20pm kick off on a Saturday afternoon (just goes to show, SKY have more clout then the old bill!). So instead of queuing outside the pub at 7am on a Sunday, we strolled into town for noon then slowly worked our way to the ground stopping off at most of the pubs on the way. When we finally got into the ground the atmosphere was bumping with the 25,000 crowd all on their feet and singing their hearts out.

A packed Ninian Park was a daunting place for away teams (and fans) to visit and no-one has been surprised that the atmosphere in the new stadium does not come close to replicating the old amphitheatre, but today we came close and as the two teams walked out of the tunnel the whole place had the vibe of gladiators about to do battle to the death - with potential new investor, Dato' Chan Tien Ghee, watching over like an Emperor with the power of life or death.

Then there was some football.

Swansea have the best defensive record in the division and Cardiff have one of the best scoring records in the division; so it was a case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object. In fairness, the Jacks had most of the possession, passing the ball about amongst themselves thus denying us goal scoring opportunities (if you aint got the ball you can’t put it in the net!). Then on the half hour they moved forward and put it in our net.

The jacks went wild but after a moment of stunned silence the Cardiff faithful were back on full song and got 110% behind the Bluebirds. Just before half time Chopra rewarded the crowd’s loyalty and banged in an equaliser, silencing the travelling Jacks.

The second half was more of the same, Swanesa passing the ball about but not really threatening to do anything with it. A draw was starting to feel like a reasonable result in this top of the table clash then after 92 minutes Chops banged in a cracking goal and the stadium exploded. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat - with no time for a response - was sweeter than a sweet thing on Saint Sweets Day.

Fortunatley a Youtube roving reporter managed to capture the winning goal where we were stood (look carefully and you will catch our gang celebrating!)

After having hope dangled in front of them for much of the match, the last gasp winner must have been heartbreaking for the jacks (bless em). As the final whistle blew it was obvious the ground was not going to empty for a good while to come. People just stood their ground, cheering, singing and savouring the moment. Despite the intense rivalry and emotions, the massive police presence and the design of the new stadium meant there were only 8 arrests, mostly connected with the Jacks smashing up and setting fire to the bogs.

Eventually we had to move on and finish the day the way it started, in the pub. But this time, instead of being filled with hope, trepidation, excitement and a little bit of apprehension, it was just pure joy.

We had beaten the Jacks in the most important derby EVER ----- but will there be a more important game before the season is over?

Urban75 view of things

BBC Report



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