On Tuesday evening (24th of January), Cardiff City football club won their semi-final of the League Cup (currently called the Carling Cup), beating Crystal Palace in a penalty shoot-out, after drawing 1-1 on aggregate after extra time. This puts them through to the final, where they will meet Liverpool, who beat Manchester City last night.
Amazingly, this will be Cardiff City’s fourth trip to Wembley Stadium, the home of English football, in 4 years. In 2008 they reached the final of the FA Cup, but were beaten by Portsmouth 1-0 (they beat Barnsley in the semi final which was also played there). In the 2009/10 season they reached the Football League Championship play-off final to gain the 3rd place promotion to the Premier League, but were beaten by Blackpool 3-2.
I only live about 2km from the new Cardiff City Stadium, and when Crystal Palace missed their penalty on Tuesday evening, I could hear the roar from the crowd. I am pleased for Cardiff City, as they have had a heartbreaking string of near misses over the last several seasons. In the 2008/09 season, they failed to make the play-offs for promotion to the Premier League by the narrowest of margins, only being placed below Preston on goals scored during the season, as even their goal difference was the same.
In the 2009/10 season, as mentioned above, their lost in the play-off final at Wembley to Blackpool, and in the 2010/11 season (last season), they again made the play-offs, but lost to Reading on aggregate in the 1st round of the play-offs.
They have also had to see their fiercest rivals, Swansea City, gain promotion to the Premier League last season. Although I grew up supporting Chelsea, as I now live in Cardiff I also support my local club, and my teenage son has a season ticket so goes to most Cardiff City home games.
The final of the League Cup is on the 26th of February, and Liverpool will be an interesting opposition. Until 2009, Liverpool were the most successful English football club in history, having won the old first division a record 18 times. This record was equalled and then surpassed by Manchester United in the 2008/09 and 2010/11 seasons. Liverpool have still won the European Cup more times than any other English (or British) football club, 5 times. Amazingly, they have not been to Wembley to play a final since 1996.
Given Cardiff City’s recent years of close misses, I am hopefully they can upset the expectations and beat Liverpool in a month’s time, and win their first major trophy since they won the FA Cup in 1927. We shall see.