Page last updated at 07:24 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 08:24 UK

City go from despair to Wembley

A young Cardiff City fan at Wembley
A young Cardiff City fan at Wembley
As the hysteria over Cardiff City's FA Cup final appearance reaches fever pitch, a City fan of some 50 years Phillip Nifield looks back over a dramatic season which might have turned out very differently for the Bluebirds faithful.

What a rollercoaster of a season!

It started with the usual early season optimism, boosted by the signings of Robbie Fowler, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Trevor Sinclair.

But the hopes of runaway success were swept aside as it soon became clear to every City fan that Fowler and Hasselbaink just couldn't play together as the team struggled with a lack of pace upfront.

A dreadful run until December brought Dave Jones' own position as manager into severe doubt - but he survived and City eventually prospered on the field.

Injuries to Fowler, Riccardo Scimeca and Sinclair also paled into significance against the whole of the future of the club.

That was thrown into doubt as Langston sought to win repayment of millions of pounds owing immediately. Would we be relegated? Would we have a club?

Court success for Langston would have put the club into administration and having 10 points docked while the team were struggling in the league was a nightmare scenario.

Phillip Nifield
You do really have to pinch yourself to make sure that it's not all been a dream
Phillip Nifield

So it was that the FA Cup provided salvation for us long-suffering fans. Chasetown and Hereford were despatched despite the odd scare and Wolverhampton Wanderers were taken apart at Ninian Park.

Then it was Premiership Middlesborough in the sixth round.

They were outplayed and a national TV audience soon found out about 17-year-old Aaron Ramsey, a top Premiership star in the making.

So it was to the semi-final at Wembley. There were those purists that complained about the FA Cup somehow being devalued because the semi finals were there. Rubbish.

Most City fans wanted to go to Wembley - not Villa Park or Old Trafford to see our beloved Bluebirds play. They did us proud and perhaps it was destiny that local lad Joe Ledley would score the spectacular winner.

Cardiff City in the FA Cup final. Sounds a lot less plausible than the Liberal Democrats winning the next general election!

Midfielder Joe Ledley celebrates scoring in Cardiff's FA Cup semi final match against Barnsley
Midfielder Joe Ledley celebrates scoring the winner against Barnsley

We'll be the outsiders on 17 May but don't write us off, particularly if the boys play as they did against Middlesborough.

It will be a great day out in Wembley, whatever the result. You do really have to pinch yourself to make sure that it's not all been a dream.

What a marvellous worldwide advert for the city of Cardiff and Wales. Thousands of column inches in newspapers with the match being beamed to a vast audience across the globe.

And what an opportunity for a celebration after the game - open-top bus tour and a civic reception must be laid on, win or lose. After all it could be another 81 years before we go to Wembley again in an FA Cup Final.

With City at Wembley, there's just the Premiership to go and after almost 50 years of following the Bluebirds, I then can die a happy fan.

There's also the Bluebirds' last season in Ninian Park to look forward to. And, hopefully, the club will make it to the promised land of the Premiership, ready for the opening of the new stadium. Now, that would be a dream come true.

This is the last in our series of reflections by fans on an eventful season for the three Welsh league clubs. We also carried reviews of Swansea City's League One title-winning season and Wrexham's unsuccessful battle to hold onto their Football League status.


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