Cardiff City
Ninian Park

Ground No. 52 (return visit)
Visited - Saturday 30th September 2006
Result - Cardiff City 4-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Coca Cola Championship
Attendance - 19,915

Having visited Ninian Park previously, it wasn’t a ground that I needed to do for the 92, but I’d quite enjoyed the trip last time, and so when this fixture came around, I decided to make my second visit to the South Wales venue.

With the trains being cancelled between Birmingham and Cardiff, it meant I had to make a diversion via Shrewsbury, so that meant an early start, leaving Wolverhampton at 7:30am, before changing at Shrewsbury and making the journey southwards down the Welsh border. Despite being a few minutes late arriving, the train ride went well, getting into Cardiff just after 11am.

I had hoped to do a tour of the Millennium Stadium first of all, but after arriving there to find that the next one was at 3pm (not very useful!), I headed off straight down to the ground, walking a familiar route from the city centre, and making good time, arriving outside Ninian Park well before the turnstiles opened. Having found an open gate, in I went, and was able to have a walk around taking pictures.

Last time I hadn’t had the chance to do this, so it was good to see some more of the stadium from a closer perspective than being stuck in the away end. The Spar Family Stand (where I had come in), was a deceptively small stand, with only 13 rows of seats on what looked to be a former terrace. Behind the last row were a number of executive boxes, which could perhaps explain why the depth of the stand is quite deceptive if terracing had continued further back in days gone by. To its right (looking out at the pitch) was the Grandstand. An all-seated, two tiered affair, its most interesting feature was the roof, which was in two parts, with a propped roof covering the upper tier, and an extension to the front which covered the lower tier. Going around the pitch, at the far end was the Grange End. A fair sized terrace, this was where we were to be located later on that afternoon, in the side nearest to the Grandstand. Being split in half, unusually, there were several rows of seats at the front of the visitors section, presumably to make segregation easier. One nice feature of the stand was sitting on top of the roof, a small gable, with a clock in its centre. Continuing around from the Grange End, was an unused section of corner terracing, which ran into the lower tier of the Popular Bank. The Pop Bank itself was split into two tiers, terracing below, and seats above, with the upper tier dipping down towards the Grange End. The roof of this side was particularly attractive, with a huge bread advert on it, perhaps a more common sight at grounds in years gone by before the emergence of flat, cantilevered roofs.

Having had a good look round, I eventually left, and stopped off in the club shop, before heading back into town to spend the next few hours prior to having to come back.

With Cardiff sitting on top of the table, spirits were high, and the home sections of the ground were sold out, with our section being fairly (if not totally) full. When the game started, we didn’t quite know what to expect, but were hoping for a good game. Proceedings had started fairly evenly, with both sides having chances in the opening 20 minutes, but things were soon to turn on their head, thanks to a bizarre decision from the (cheat of a) linesman. Gary Breen had gone up for a ball with Cardiff striker Steven Thompson. Whilst there had been some contact, the game went on, with Breen walking away, Thompson getting up and dusting himself down, and none of the other players or even referee making any signs that something untoward had gone on. Up went the flag of Mr Taffy O’Cheat. The referee, who looked somewhat surprised that the linesman had actually made a decision (up to that point he only seemed to be raising his flag after the ref himself had indicated throw-ins and such), came over to see what the fuss had been about. Despite protests from even Thompson, the red was shown and we were reduced to 10 men (a decision which was later overturned on appeal). With that, and thanks to the linesman, we were up against it, but still the home side couldn’t seem to trouble us. That is, until 5 minutes before half-time. From a corner, Scimeca rose, and free from where Breen normally would have been dominant in the air, he was able to power a header home, to make it 1-0 at the break.

In the second half, there was more bad luck for us. A cross from Cardiff’s Paul Parry was cleared by Mulgrew, only for it to hit Craddock and go straight into the net. Flying past where Gary Breen would normally have been standing. In the 69th minute, Cardiff went 3-0 up. Malvin Kamara had space to run, and was able to hit the ball low past Matt Murray when otherwise Gary Breen would have been marking him. Their fourth came in the 79th minute when Parry, free from not having Breen in his way was able to lash home a cross to put the game beyond us. Despite a few chances, without Gary Breen pushing up from the back, we were unable to create anything, and so were robbed of a certain 3 points, thanks to the vindictive, Welsh sympathising linesman, Aled ‘The Flag’ Llewelyn.  

During the game, the match had been marred by violence from, surprisingly not the Cardiff fans, but our own who were intent on fighting with stewards and police. Thanks to that, we were kept inside the ground for a good 20 minutes afterwards, before finally being let out, with me managing to slip out of the police escort and make my own way back to the station, via Leckwith Stadium and Cardiff Arms Park to take a few pictures.

Thanks to a cheap fare offer, I wasn’t able to get the train back until later on, being forced to suffer Cardiff fans celebrating their promotion to the Premier League (in September!), before getting the train home, arriving back in good time just after 10:30pm.

Overall, whilst the game hadn’t been the best to watch, it hadn’t been too bad a trip, and it was certainly good to see the ground again. With Cardiff having plans to move, it will be a shame to lose Ninian Park from the 92, as whilst it may not be the most friendly of grounds to visit, it is a welcome affront to modern stadiums such as the Walkers or Madejski Stadium.

Rear of the Grandstand

Grange End Turnstiles

Rear of the Grange End

The Club Shop

Rear of the Spar Stand

The Spar Stand from Ninian Park Railway Station

The Spar Stand

The Grandstand

The Grange End

Clock on the Grange End Roof

The Popular Bank

The Grandstand

The Spar Stand

The Popular Bank

Ninian Park Panoramic 1

Ninian Park Panoramic 2

April 2009 Update:

Since my last visit to Ninian Park, then the club have pressed on with their plans for a new ground, having virtually completed the new stadium just over the road from their current home. Whilst it will no doubt provide better facilities, pictures of it so far do nothing for the imagination, looking to be another bowl to add to the likes of Leicester, Southampton and Reading, etc. After a trip to Merthyr Tydfil in April '09 then I got the chance to have one last look around Ninian before the club finally move, see panoramics below. 

Ninian Park 1910-2009

The Sun sets on Ninian


Ninian Park Panoramic 3

Ninian Park Panoramic 4

Ninian Park Panoramic 5


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