When the football stops:

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When the football stops:

Postby Forever Blue » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:10 am

When the football stops: The amazing Cardiff City stories, the heroes who emerged and what happened next

Here are the incredible stories of what happened to Cardiff City players when football had been stopped in the past

By Glen Williams


The UK is currently in lockdown in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

As such, it means all football in this country is suspended until at least April 30, but in reality that timescale will almost certainly be lengthened.

In these most unprecedented of times for the country, one wonders when the last time the football was put on hold, how Cardiff City coped and what happened afterwards.

Here, WalesOnline takes a look at the last three occasions football was stopped, the incredible individual stories which emerged and what happened next for the club.



World War I (suspended 1915-19)

Incredibly, in the first year of WWI, 1914, football was still played.

That plan was soon kiboshed the year after and Cardiff City, who were then playing in the Southern Division League One, like so many other clubs across the country, saw their players head off to war.

There are important tales in Cardiff’s history which happened during this war, but perhaps the most lasting legacy comes in the form of Lord Ninian Chrichton-Stuart.

His ties were firmly rooted in South Wales, though, his family's estate included Cardiff Castle, no less, and despite being Scottish he endeavoured to learn Welsh and moved to the Welsh capital in 1910.

That year, the Bluebirds had secured the plot of land to build a new stadium but funding fell through, that was until Lord Chrichton-Stuart, an MP, stepped in to fund the development. As such, the initial name of Sloper Park was banished and instead named Ninian Park.

The Scot took command of the 6th (Glamorgan) Battalion, The Welch Regiment, and volunteered to lead his men on the western front, where he was shot and killed following an 11-month battle in October 1915.

But the impact he made on the Welsh capital club will forever be remembered.

Fred Keenor, another colossal figure in Cardiff City's history, was also shipped off to war. Although he was revered as a defender on the pitch, with a gun in his hand, he was branded 'the worst shot he had ever seen' by his regiment leader.

He was right on the front line and was there for the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in military history. Keenor later described he Battle of Delville Wood as "hellish" and remembers it "raining shells". He was wounded so severely - a piece of artillery shrapnel struck his left leg above the knee rendering him unable to walk - it was thought his football career would be over. There was even talk of amputating his leg.

City fans will be eternally grateful they decided against that and Keenor, somewhat miraculously, returned home and lifted that famous FA Cup trophy with the Bluebirds just 11 years after that horrific leg wound.

Billy Hardy was the Bluebirds' first ever professional footballer when manager Fred Stewart himself paid the £25 transfer fee to sign him from Stockport County in 1912.

He remains the Bluebirds' all-time record appearance holder with 590 outings for the club, leaving at the age of 41 in 1932 with an FA Cup title to his name. He also served during The Great War. He was demobilised for the 1919/20 season owing to injuries sustained in battle in 1918.

Jack Evans in 1912 was the first Cardiff City player ever to receive a call-up to the Wales national squad. The outside left’s shots were known to be so venomous one keeper broke his hand, while a Manchester City stopper was knocked out cold by an Evans strike. He served in the Royal Engineers.

An utterly tragic story is that of Tom Witts, the only Cardiff player to die in the war - and the fate befell him just two days before Armistice was signed.

Lyndon Sandoe, John Stevenson and Arthur Fish were all City players enlisted in the war effort. While former Bluebirds Billy Douglas and Billy Gaughan and Wally Stewart also served, the latter also tragically dying in action.
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When the football stops:

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Re: When the football stops:

Postby Forever Blue » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:11 am

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

City enjoyed a tremendous spell after World War I, arguably their greatest of the century.

City's first season in the Football League in 1920/21 saw them earn immediate promotion up to the First Division, having finished second thanks to 22 goals from Peter Hooper.

They finished fourth in their first season in the top flight, while in 1923/24 they were runners-up, finishing level on points with Huddersfield Town but agonisingly losing on goal ration - 0.024 no less!

The year following they finished runners-up in the FA Cup before claiming the most coveted of trophies in 1927, with war hero Keenor lifting that famous cup.






World War II (suspended 1939-45)

The outbreak of World War II saw league football suspended for six years between 1939 and 1945.

Many Cardiff City players served for their country during that gruelling and unrelenting war.

Cardiff City agreed a deal with the commanding officer at an army barracks at Rumney Hill that any of his players who enlisted would be stationed there for the duration.

That backfired when the battalion shipped out and Bluebirds players Billy James, Billy Baker, Bobby Tobin, Roy Phillips and Jackie Pritchard were captured by the Japanese.

The regiment was on its way to North Africa when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, subsequently prompting the UK to declare ware on Japan.

The unit unit rerouted to the Dutch colony of Java in the Dutch East Indies where British forces suffered heavy losses and the above were all captured and placed into a prisoners-of-war camp.

Pritchard was the only City player to lose his life in the war, when the Japanese ship which was transporting him to a prisoner-of-war camp sunk.

Others also suffered long-lasting effects.

James in particular was affected badly, having suffered from malnutrition during his time as a POW. He played the 1946/47 season for City, but the damage he had sustained to his eyesight was irreparable and he had to retire at the end of that season.


Cardiff City's Billy James had to retire one season after the war because of eyesight problems, sustained by malnutrition from a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp
Baker and Tobin also returned to play for the Bluebirds when they arrived back on these shores following the end of the war.





WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

Well, once again, City rose from the wreckage.

The first league season back after the war had ended, the 1946/47 campaign, the Bluebirds stormed to promotion from Divison 3 South, ending the season as champions.

A buzz surrounded the Welsh capital club the following season and attendances averaged more than 36,000 at Ninian Park that season, with 52,000 people turning out to watch the 1-0 defeat against Tottenham.

For the next five years, City were challenging right at the top end of the Division Two, threatening promotion almost every year, including when they claimed third place in 1950/51.

The following campaign, 1951/52 they fulfilled that promise and rocketed back up to the First Division, with Wilf Grant firing 27 goals to help secure promotion.

The Big Freeze (suspended for 10 weeks in 1963)


Liverpool manager Bill Shankly called in Mr John Flood of Queensferry, an expert on ground construction, to get the ground ready during The Big Freeze. Here he is pictured alongside the tractor drawn disc harrower cutting through the ice-covered pitch at Anfield (Image: Mirrorpix)


So, that brings us to the last time football was suspended for considerable length of time in this country.

The winter of 1962-63 was like no other. Temperatures plunged to the lowest they had been for 223 years, at times touching -20 degrees Celsius.

Freezing temperatures began just before Christmas 1962 before 14 inches of snow blanketed the nation in the New Year and conditions didn't let up for three months.

Hundreds of matches were postponed between January 5 and March 11 that year, during which time extreme measures were called upon.

Norwich City used a flamethrower to try to remove the snow, while Liverpool boss Bill Shankly employed a 'ground construction expert', who used a tractor to loosen the ice and snow before getting a bulldozer to clear the Anfield turf.

The postponement meant teams went into overdrive to catch up with the schedule, Manchester United, for example, played 24 games over three subsequent 10 weeks.

For Cardiff, well, that season was their first after being relegated from the First Division. They were in ninth place when the chill hit and when the fixtures piled up, they managed to drop only one place for the rest of the season, beating Huddersfield 3-0 in their final fixture.
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Re: When the football stops:

Postby Forever Blue » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:13 am

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

As always, City had something to be excited about after a period of inertia and that, of course, was the signing of Wales and Juventus great John Charles in that season.

He scored a goal from a reputed 70 yards on his home league debut against Norwich City to signal his arrival, but couldn't help to catapult them up the table.

Jimmy Scoular was subsequently appointed as manager and Bluebirds fans were treated to a feast European football thereafter, with City regularly winning the Welsh Cup.

While their league form was indifferent at best during that period, their exploits in Europe in the Cup Winners' Cup were something to behold.


Eddie Firmani scores for Charlton with John Charles looking on, 26th October 1963 (Image: Mirrorpix)
Cardiff won the Welsh Cup seven out of nine years Scoular was in charge and enjoyed some glorious European ventures.

Having reached the quarter-finals in his first year, eventually being eliminated by Spanish side Real Zaragoza, three years later Scoular's Bluebirds went one step further, reaching the semi-finals against Hamburg in 1968.

There were 43,070 screaming fans packed inside Ninian Park for the second leg of that tie and when Norman Dean and Brian Harris netted for City, it looked as though the final beckoned.

But a freak, last-minute strike from Franz-Josef Hoenig made the score 3-2 to the German club and thus City were consigned to defeat.

To this day that remains the furthest any Welsh side has progressed in a European competition.

The Bluebirds chillax. In the 1963/64 season the Cardiff City players, including the legendry John Charles reading his paper, are at the Empire Pool to enjoy the steam room. Lovely. Not sure about that carpet mind

The Bluebirds relax. In the 1963/64 season the Cardiff City players, including the legendary John Charles reading his paper, are at the Empire Pool to enjoy the steam room


And now...

It appears, historically, Cardiff have always benefited from a little break from the football pitch.

When this season resumes, whenever that might be, and the play-off charge resumes, City supporters can at least take solace in that.
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