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Friday, June 19, 2009

Ninian Park’s Last Hoorah

25-04-2009 Cardiff City 0 Ipswich Town 3 (Championship)

Ninian Park

New Town manager Roy Keane (who’d arrived amidst a maelstrom of media activity in Ipswich just a few days before this game) could not have asked for a more positive start to his reign from the Blue’s. The 3-0 win – which pretty much ended Cardiff’s hopes of play-off football – came courtesy of some unusually clinical finishing from the Ipswich frontline.

Ninian Park

A penalty save by Richard Wright (after a quite daft foul by one-time Champions League winner Ivan Campo) ended a period of purposeful play by the home side but after that there was only ever going to be one winner. On the half-hour sub Jon Stead (who played under Keane at Sunderland) set up Pablo Counago, repeated the feat after the break for David Norris, before helping himself to the third.

Ninian Park

As it transpired the Bluebirds play-off ambitions did end at Sheffield Wednesday a week later and so the game against Town had proved to be Ninian Park’s swansong. For Cardiff City fan’s this must have been a hugely disappointing way to celebrate the end of the line for their 99 year old home. Where was the side that had occupied a top six berth up until a few ago, or the side that had reached Wembley for last May’s FA Cup Final. They were woeful.

Ninian Park  Ninian Park  Ninian Park

Most of the crowd (visiting fans excepted) stayed behind for a firework display and other festivities to mark the grounds passing which, after what had passed in the preceding 90 minutes must have had quite a surreal feel to it.

Ninian Park

So goodbye to a ground (first visited by yours truly in 1978) that must hold some great memories for it’s regulars: Wins against Real Madrid and Sporting Lisbon in European competition; promotions and relegations; and the Welsh national sides victory against Israel that clinched a place at the 1958 World Cup finals.

Ninian Park

More recently the FA victory against then Premiership Leeds in 2002, and away from football, and assortment of boxing and rugby matches, the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982 and by Bob Marley (and the Rastaman Vibration Tour) in 1976.

Ninian Park

Next season Cardiff will play at the new Cardiff International Sports Stadium which is just a few hundred yards away from Ninian Park. The original site for the old stadium is actually where the new stadium has been built. So, a century on, its back to Plan A for the Bluebirds.

Ninian Park

posted by chevblue at 6:43 pm






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