Why the Exploits of Cardiff City will be one to remember

For any football team or player, the pinnacle of one’s career in the English game surely must be reaching the top flight?

For Cardiff City, after a few years of being around the playoffs and a series of new misses, this was finally made a reality after a 0-0 draw with Charlton.

What is all the more significant, however, is that this will be Cardiff’s first ever time in the Premier League, and as a Welsh club they will be only the second team behind Swansea to do this.

The story of Cardiff is somewhat heart-warming. A new owner has brought in increased finances after years of difficulty as well as an extremely debatable decision to change the traditional kit from blue to red.

In recent years, Cardiff have become a big side in the Championship and came close to an FA Cup win in 2008; losing to Portsmouth in the final.   

A changed stadium from Ninian Park to the Cardiff City Stadium further increased the incentive from Cardiff to go up one more step.

A League Cup penalty defeat to Liverpool brought more heartache for the fans but a new light for the following season saw Cardiff-boy Craig Bellamy signed on a permanent basis, perhaps giving Cardiff the boost they needed.

Having led the table since November, promotion has finally been confirmed and the famous South Wales derby will be contested in England’s top division where a tenth of the team’s are Welsh.


Photo Retrieved From: http://www.thehardtackle.com/2013/cardiff-city-cruising-to-the-premier-league/

Auroras Encore Wins the 2013 Grand National at Aintree

As an avid football fan, I have felt inclined to sometimes place a bet on a team, likely to win. This has of course, seen highs and lows with perhaps more losses than victories despite the odds.

Aintree is always a spectacle for many, like me who don’t follow Horse Racing. It is of course the Grand National, with 40 of the best jockeys and horses, competing over a 4 mile course in Liverpool.

The focus is mainly on the stakes from the bookies, and from today’s result, the shock at the horse that came in at first.

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At 66/1, Auroras Encore, trained by Sue Smith and ridden by Ryan Mania eventually won the John Smith’s Grand National.

All of the 40 runners sustained no injuries so the plaudits and memories will lie solely on a rank outsider.

For the bookies, a brave man would have initially placed a bet on Encore. Other runners such as Ap McCoy on Colbert Station and the favourite Seabass ridden by Katie Walsh failed to record a win.

As a viewing sport, Horse Racing will always be unfamiliar to me and will appear very rarely on my blog. However, as widely acknowledged event, The Grand National does interest many.

For me, it is the conduct held at the event. It is one of the many sporting events where there is a certain tradition and pride held at Aintree for over 100 years.

It is for this reason why The Grand National will always hold a special place in British sporting history and the beauty of National debutant Ryan Mania winning means that there will be some rare smiles on very happy faces.

Photo Retrieved from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/horseracing/grand-national/9976698/Grand-National-2013-66-1-outsider-Auroras-Encore-takes-it.html

Hot Off the Press – Michael Owen to Retire from all Football

Today, footballer Michael Owen broke the news that he is to retire from all football at the end of the season. At the age of 33, it perhaps is understandable. Owen is not getting any better, and a lack of performances for his current club Stoke City has seen just 1 goal from 7.

On the other hand, as I write this, I have to genuinely say that I am gutted about his announcement today. For me, Michael Owen will always be my first ever football hero. He seemed such a fantastic person, and from the age of 18 was set to hit the big time.

Having read his autobiography, Owen constantly talks of his family in the highest regard, notably his father. In his statement given today, Owen refers to his family as the most important factor in his life.

I will never forget the happiness I felt after he scored a hat trick for England against Germany in a 5-1 win; my first ever poster on my wall.

I had quite a soft spot for his first club, Liverpool and Owen was an integral part of that team, scoring 158 goals in 297 appearances. For England, Owen hit 40 in 89 which put him high on the all time goal scoring charts.

In 2004, Owen left Liverpool to join Real Madrid; one year before Liverpool won the European Cup; an accolade Owen unfortunately didn’t win in his illustrious career. That day in 2004, aged 10, I felt somewhat empty as I do today as it is then end of an era.

Subsequent moves to Newcastle, Manchester United and now Stoke followed as injuries blighted Owen’s career.

Who knows what would have happened had Owen stayed at Anfield. I would like to hope more trophies as well as more record breaking goals for England. Nevertheless, winning European Footballer of the Year as well as many other accolades puts Owen as an all time great.

One will always have the memories of a humble and friendly, family man, who put smiles on so many faces. My boyhood hero: Michael Owen.

Rafa Benitez Confirms Chelsea Exit

Since replacing Roberto Di Matteo in November, Rafael Benitez has not enjoyed his time at Chelsea.

The Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich set Rafa up for a fall, but nevertheless the performances throughout his time have simply not been good enough.

As a manager in general though, Benitez has somewhat proved himself. In 26 years he has won the 9 major club trophies on offer in Football and has a pedigree in the Champions League, winning the trophy with Chelsea’s bitter rivals, Liverpool, in 2005.

Abramovich’s agenda is particularly shocking. Throughout his tenure, he has rid of frequent managers. On this appointment, Benitez was set as ‘Interim Manager’ until the end of the season.

As an experienced professional, Benitez has a right to take dislike to his job title and finally has expressed this as a “mistake.”

Perhaps due to his recent managerial tenures combined with the frustrations of the sacking of Di Matteo, the Chelsea faithful have been defiant in expressing their dislike towards Benitez. This has been expressed since November with banners being paraded and chanting of hatred.

It can surely come as no surprise that Benitez has had enough. Speaking to Radio 5 Live, he demanded more respect than what he currently receives. He expressed his dissatisfaction at the title of his appointment. And he confirmed he will leave Chelsea at the end of the season.

Chelsea currently lie far adrift in the Premier League. As a major club in the game, this is simply unacceptable. They are currently competing in Europe’s minor Cup competition, the Europa League after winning the Champions League under Di Matteo last season.

Rafa’s outburst has come off the back of a Fa Cup victory where Chelsea will go on to face Manchester United in the Quarter-Final of the FA Cup; a Cup Chelsea also currently holds.

As an avid fan of football, though this may not come as a surprise regarding Chelsea, it is a shame that Benitez’s relatively illustrious career is being tarnished under the Roman Abramovich regime. Whether or not Benitez ‘won the dressing room’ or even the fans, he was trying to do an almost impossible job from the start and he has finally crumbled.

Benitez’s outburst can be heard here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/21611064