Monday, 23 May 2016
Turner (pictured left) will be remembered for his excellent and wholehearted performances for the club including his equaliser against Liverpool in the 2012 Carling Cup Final. Today's picture captures the moment when he removed his shirt and twirled it around his head after scoring this goal. The following season he formed a solid central defensive partnership with Mark Hudson and helped the club to win the Championship League title in 2013. Unfortunately over recent seasons Ben has suffered from a series of injuries which has resulted in him not being offered a new deal by the club. Birmingham City and his former club Coventry City are two clubs who have expressed interest in securing his services and I really hope that one of them signs him up. It is sad to see him go, but thanks for the great memories Ben. You will always be a Bluebird to us.
Thursday, 19 May 2016
Incredibly Velikonja signed a four year deal with the club but has rarely played first team football for us. Rumours of him being a "Vincent Tan" signing during the Mackay era could be plausible as he has spent most of the last few seasons on loan to clubs in Europe. Last season he scored 21 goals in 23 appearances for FC Lierse and with his contract due to expire this summer it would be a big surprise if the club retain his services.
Following the appointment of new Head Coach Paul Trollope yesterday, the club is due to announce its retained list next week. Fringe players such as Filip Kiss, Ben Turner and Velikonja are likely to be released when their contracts expire in July. Other players such as Eoin Doyle, Adam Le Fondre and Tom Adeyemi could be sold or loaned out again and the likes of Bruno Ecuele Manga and David Marshall are sure to attract attention from a host of Premier League clubs. Cost cutting has been promised again this season as City look to balance the books and attempt to become more profitable. It is likely that more players will have to leave to free up the resources to bring in the new players that Paul Trollope wants to add to the squad. There is also the possibility that we may see more players come through the ranks from the youth academy system. Over the years this system has given us the likes of Aaron Ramsay, Joe Ledley, Robert Earnshaw and James Collins who have all gone on to play at the highest level for both club and country. Hopefully we can add the likes of Declan John, Deji Oshilaja and Tommy O'Sullivan to that list this year.
Wednesday, 18 May 2016
My view on the subject is that he must be given a chance to show us what he can do. I remember when he was manager at my local team Bristol Rovers, where he led them to promotion to League One. Following his departure they went into a rapid decline and they have only just got back to League One this season. Some of my friends who are "Gasheads" still speak fondly of him and of his time in Bristol. I remember walking past him at a pub in Long Ashton a few years ago, but I digress. I am hoping that he will bring a fresh approach to the team, new ideas and build a team that can challenge for and reach the play offs. It will be a tough challenge especially with Aston Villa, Norwich City and Newcastle United being relegated to the Championship. However, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe is proof that an internal appointment can work. He has excelled as a player and as a manager resulting in AFC Bournemouth being a Premier League team this season. Hopefully Paul Trollope can have a similar impact with the City.
Monday, 16 May 2016
However, it was only when Rory sadly passed away in 1995 that I began to delve into his extensive back catalogue of albums. Guitar Techniques magazine ran a feature called the "A to Z of great riffs" and one month it was devoted to Rory Gallagher. I learnt some of his best riffs including some from his time as band leader in the excellent blues power trio called Taste. I then received a DVD featuring clips from "The Old Grey Whistle Test" and it included a performance of "Hands Off" featuring his then classic band of Gerry McAvoy (bass) , Lou Martin (keyboards) and Rod De'Ath (Drums). This track blew me away and I then began the process of collecting his entire remastered solo back catalogue. One of my favourite albums is "Photo Finish" featuring the above pictured line up of Rory, Gerry McAvoy and Ted Mckenna. They also recorded another great album in "Top Priority" and I am also one of the few fans who loves listening to the unfairly panned "Stagestruck" live album. Since Rory's untimely death, his brother and former manager Donal Gallagher has released a number of quality additional albums including "Wheels on wheels" (an acoustic album) and the binned album from 1977 called "Notes from San Francisco". Rory didn't like this album and dropped it in the bin (literally) much to the annoyance of his brother who had been due to take the album to record company executives the following day. Rory later said that he would like to release it one day once it had been mixed properly. His nephew duly did this many years later for his uncle and it is a great addition to his album discography. One thing that always grabs me about Rory is whether he was recording an album or performing live he always put 110% into what he did. He could have been more famous, had hit records, joined The Rolling Stones and been a superstar, but he chose to stick to what he wanted to do instead. His gritty and authentic music is truly unique and yet it is sad that he is no longer with us.
Thursday, 12 May 2016
When he originally signed on loan for the club in January, I hadn't heard of him before. However, he quickly became a fans favourite with his attacking play and goalscoring. Hopefully his signing is a message of intent and a sign of some ambition being shown by the club. There is a need for more quality signings to be added to the squad, which in turn will hopefully be followed by a strong push for promotion to the Premier League next season. The next key step for the club is to make sure that they make a wise appointment of a new Head Coach. The right appointment could entice the stay away fans to return and I really hope that the club can continue to heal its relationship with our fractured fanbase. Whilst the club has gone some way to improve this, the effects of the imposed red rebrand has still left a bitter aftertaste with some supporters despite the change back to blue.
Wednesday, 11 May 2016
Gillan were around between 1978 and 1982 before disbanding in acrimonious circumstances over money. During this time they toured extensively and released a string of successful albums including "Mr Universe", "Glory Road", "Future Shock", "Double Trouble" and "Magic". Following Bernie Torme's departure, future Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers joined the band until they split up. In the end singer Ian Gillan rejoined his former band Deep Purple after a bizarre spell with Black Sabbath. Bassist John McCoy and Bernie Torme formed a group called GMT, Colin Towns became a film/tv composer (including writing the theme tune to "Doc Martin") and drummer Mick Underwood is currently performing in "Mick Underwood's Glory Road", who play all of the old Gillan tracks.
I love their music and I still enjoying playing their albums, "Future Shock" is probably my favourite of them all though. Bernie Torme is one of my favourite guitarists and along with Rory Gallagher remains one of Ireland's best musical exports.
Over the last couple of years I received a CD called "100 Rock hits" and on the CD's were two of Be Bop Deluxe's most well known songs namely "Maid in Heaven" and "Ships in the night". It suddenly occurred to me what a great band they once were and last Christmas I received a boxed set including their "Axe Victim", "Sunburst Finish", "Drastic Plastic", "Modern Music" and "Futurama" albums. Needless to say their back catalogue is packed with many great songs including "Fair Exchange", "Sister Seagull" and the incredibly catchy "Rocket Cathedrals". Just like Budgie they are another band that should have been more successful than they were, but thankfully singer/guitarist Bill Nelson is still writing and performing live. He is a very talented songwriter and I think I will be listening to Be Bop's albums for some time to come.
Tuesday, 10 May 2016
The station itself is still open and many supporters still use it to get to Cardiff City Stadium, which is literally just across the road from our former home. I remember Saturday afternoons being stood on jam packed trains full of City fans en route from Cardiff Central (a mere 5 minutes ride away). During successful seasons it was very difficult to move on board and when the team was particularly unsuccessful during the mid 1990's, I remember one fan making the joke that crowds had dropped to the point where we might need to pay on the train soon! I always paid before I get accused of fare dodging. Over recent years I have driven to games instead, but the above picture brings back fond memories of pre match excitement, pints in the now closed Ninian Park pub and the joy and pain of watching Cardiff City over the years. Cardiff City have remained as one of my lifelong passions and I can't wait to see another game some time in the future.
Monday, 9 May 2016
Many of the stations featured are small stations in either remote or sparsely populated regions. Locations such as Drigg, St Andrew's Road and Ferryside have appeared and it is amazing that such stations still exist. They serve both as a vital transport link for their respective communities and also as a reminder to some of the unusual locations that were chosen by railway station builders during the Victorian era. Thankfully these minor railway outposts still exist and long may they continue. One such station near me, namely Pilning, clings on to its existence with just 1 train each way each day (except Sundays). Incredibly there used to be two stations there which were called Low Level and High Level. Low Level closed when the line from Pilning to Severn Beach closed as part of the Beeching cuts and High Level has survived simply renamed as Pilning. If you catch the train to Cardiff it is a blurry mass of red brick that you pass through en route.
In terms of history the existing GWSR line is part of the former line that used to run between Stratford-on-Avon and Cheltenham. The line remained open until 1976 when a serious freight train derailment resulted in the permanent closure of the line as British Rail decided that the line was beyond economic repair. The track was finally lifted in 1979 before the GWSR bought part of the trackbed between Cheltenham and Broadway. Preliminary services began in 1981 on a short section of track and the railway has continued to grow since then. The current line runs between Laverton in the north and Cheltenham Racecourse in the south with stations at Toddington, Winchcombe, Gotherington and Cheltenham Racecourse. Further stations are due to be opened at Broadway (pictured above) and Hayles Abbey Halt (also under construction) and these are really exciting times for the railway. During the last month the "Broadway - the last mile" fundraising share scheme has resulted in £430,000 being raised in just 4 weeks since its launch and hopefully it won't be too long until the target of £1.2 million is achieved. When trains return to Broadway in 2017/18 it will be 57 years since trains ceased to stop at the old Broadway station. Hopefully it will then give the railway the additional funds and momentum to reconnect to the Oxford to Hereford (Cotswold Line) at Honeybourne and thus establish a main line connection once more.
Whoever comes in as our new head coach will be aware that anything less than the play offs will be seen as a failure by owner Vincent Tan At the moment some of the prospective choices for Slade's replacement have been slightly underwhelming at best with Port Vale's manager Robert Page being rumoured as one of the preferred choices. With further cost cutting on the horizon, it will be more difficult to have a real go at reaching the play offs next season. With Aston Villa and potentially either Norwich City, Newcastle United or Sunderland to be relegated from the Premier League this season it will be much harder to compete against their budgets next season.
Thursday, 5 May 2016
Manager Russell Slade (pictured above) has come under a lot of criticism since being appointed in October 2014. Much has been made of the fact that he is a former P.E teacher who has never played at a professional level. When he was appointed it was noted that he had only managed clubs in Leagues One and Two and had not led any team to promotion during his lengthy career as a manager. In fact many City fans have questioned why he was even appointed at all, as he had never managed a team in the Championship.
When it comes to unpopularity I can only think of two other former City managers who were despised as much as him, as I shudder to remember the Russell Osman and Alan Durban eras. I too used to be very critical of Slade, but I now have some sympathy for him. The difficulty is that over the last 15 years Cardiff City fans have enjoyed a largely successful period in the clubs history. The dark old days of being a yo yo club swinging between Leagues One & Two, lurching from one financial crisis to another have been largely forgotten. F.A.Cup, League Cup and play off finals, trips to Wembley, promotion to the Premier League, the infamous red rebrand and change back to blue, the settling of the Langston debt have all occurred during a time when City have become a leading side in the Championship. Expectations still remain high and Russell Slade has been on a hiding to nothing. Last season his style of football was heavily criticised with many supporters staying away in protest, which resulted in some of the lowest attendances ever seen at Cardiff City Stadium this season. Some supporters have expressed frustration at his perceived reluctance to use youth team players and his persistence using under performing players such as Alex Revell and Sammy Ameobi. He has had to continue to reduce the clubs wage bill and playing staff and compared to other leading clubs in the Championship he has had no money to spend on the playing squad this season. Part of this has been due to a transfer embargo being placed on the club for breaching financial fair play rules, which they will be released from this summer. The question now is whether owner Vincent Tan will keep faith with Slade after we failed to get anywhere near promotion, or if he will be released after his contract finishes this summer. My own opinion is that he has done a good job given the circumstances and that he has steadied the ship after the chaos that was Ole Gunnar Solksjaer's reign. However, I still think it is time for a new experienced Championship manager to be appointed and whilst I am thankful for Russell Slade's hard work, I think it is time for him to leave. Neil Warnock and Nigel Adkins are two such managers who I think could lead back City to the Premier League. The question is would either of them want to work with Vincent Tan?
Wednesday, 4 May 2016
The modern hovercraft was the invention of Sir Christopher Cockerill, a British mechanical engineer. Recently I watched Pathe news footage of him attending the opening ceremony at the then brand new Ramsgate International Hoverport at Pegwell Bay in 1969. The Saunders Roe Nautical 4 Hovercraft was purposely designed to travel between England and France and at one point two companies, Hoverlloyd (based at Ramsgate) and Seaspeed (based at Dover) were both operating cross channel services. Due to escalating fuel costs caused by the worldwide oil crisis during the 1970's both companies merged to form Hoverspeed and services ceased to run from Ramsgate in 1981. The port survived as a servicing and repair depot for a few years, but has since been demolished and the site is now heavily overgrown and neglected. Services continued to operate out of Dover until Hoverspeed decided to replace the Hovercrafts with a high speed Catamaran known as the Seacat. The final journeys were completed on 1 October 2000 before both remaining hovercrafts were bought by a private collector. The site of the Dover hoverport has also recently been demolished as part of a new redevelopment.
Over recent months the two surviving SRN4 hovercrafts, which are currently being stored at a hovercraft museum in Leigh-on-Solent, have been threatened with being scrapped. Thanks to a worldwide campaign at least one of the two will be preserved as "The Princess Anne" pictured has been deemed in a far better condition than "The Princess Margaret", the other SRN4 hovercraft.