Memories of Ninian Park
A Fan’s Perspective
A short article by Cardiff City fan Roger Thomas, detailing his experiences of watching Cardiff City at Ninian Park.
Since moving to Cardiff as a spotty faced twelve year old in 1973 I have calculated that I have watched at least eight hundred and fifty games at Ninian Park. The vast majority of them in the lower divisions of the Football League and most with very few fellow supporters for company.
Standing on an exposed and windy Grange End before the powers that be decided it wasn’t economically viable to open more than two sides of the ground, is something many fans of the 21st Century Bluebirds could not imagine. However, they are my personal memories and as I look back at the tiny crowds and woeful performances of old it brings a warm glow to me.
Every home point or rare cup triumph meant so much to the fans of the club who even managed to alienate their local paper at one stage receiving no coverage for months. The crowds were so small we all virtually knew each other! We certainly recognised most of our fellow fans and suffered together from our favoured vantage points. You could clearly understand what the players were saying to each other so I know they could surely hear our words of encouragement or otherwise! Ninian Park was always a big ground, although until recent years was increasingly tatty and dilapidated, but it was home to my football dreams as I progressed through teenage years and into work and middle age.
I have had a season ticket for over thirty years and yes, I have one for the new ground which I am sure will soon be home for us all. My best memory is being amongst a crowd of just over two thousand for a League Cup tie against Plymouth Argyle back in the mid eighties. On a windy mid week evening, we were losing 1-4 at half time but we won the game 5-4. As a twenty five year old I went bonkers on the Popular Bank that night when the fifth goal went in – nothing before or since has meant more to me. Those who were there will know what I mean, it wasn’t a big game but it was ours and Ninian Park was where it happened. The Brains bitter in the Halfway Hotel tasted better than ever that night.
The new ground is a symbol of progress but you’ll never take away the windswept Ninian from our memories. Tony Evans was my first hero, Billy Ronson and Dave Bennett followed him until I realised that I was too old for that sort of thing and got married. I’m still married but I have been watching Cardiff City for longer than I’ve known my wife. And for fans of more than twenty five we are the Bluebirds, not the Blooobirds!
C’mon the City!