from Pantperthog to Knockando

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Cardiff v Ajax

So my football-watching season begins with a 0-0 draw on a wet and windy Friday night. It wasn’t a bad game, but, obviously, it could have been better.

Ajax had a ton of chances and should have made more of them. They seemed very happy to muck around in the area - dinking chips when they should have blasted the ball, or trying backheeled passes which missed the team-mate steaming into the box. They did force a couple of saves from the Cardiff keeper, and the City strikers made a hash of a few good chances too. On balance 0-0 was a fair result.

We sat in the rickety wooden-seated grandstand of Ninian Park. As this will be Cardiff’s last season at NP before they migrate a few hundred yards west to their new stadium, it was an experience of minor historical import. Although it seems the majority of people in the stand couldn’t a) read seat numbers, or b) arrive on time for the kick off. The stewards were still sorting people out twenty minutes into the game.

Randomly, the two guys sitting next to us turned up twenty-five minutes into the match, a little drunk, and a little shouty. They then stumbled off when the half time whistle went and didn’t return. I imagine they were too busy trying to drink the club bar dry.

It’s plain to see why Cardiff need a new stadium. Queuing up for the inadequately sized toilets at half time in a narrow concrete corridor, the beergut of the guy behind me was firmly pressed into the small of my back. If there was a fire the only way out would be down and onto the pitch, but the gangways are small and dimly lit.

Sometimes fans with a hankering for old-time footie before big money ruined the game moan about ground moves. But realistically, for many clubs it’s time to move on. Sitting in bum-numbing, knee-bashing seats in a stand which could easily induce claustrophobia isn’t the ideal way to watch football.

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