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Ten top Ninian Park memories

Ninian Park

By Peter Shuttleworth

Ninian Park has hosted some momentous sporting and cultural occasions for both club and country.

Cardiff City have enjoyed many highs at their home of 99 years, including promotion celebrations and famous FA Cup and European scalps.

606: DEBATE

But the Bluebirds have also endured their fair share of lows as Ninian Park has been the scene of relegation disappointments and cup heartbreaks.

Cardiff City's Championship play-off heartbreak means that Ninian Park will not host another fixture so the old ground is now lost to the mists of time.

So as the Bluebirds prepare to move to their new nearby home, BBC Sport Wales remembers 10 great Ninian Park occasions.

Cardiff v Birmingham programme 1924
A programme from Cardiff versus Birmingham in April 1924

26 April, 1924: Football League Division One
Cardiff City 2-0 Birmingham City

Cardiff City, who had a slightly superior goal difference than joint leaders Huddersfield, seemed on the verge of a league championship when Jimmy Jones and Joe Clennell scored to defeat Birmingham City 2-0 at Ninian Park.

But it was the chances they missed against 10-man Birmingham that the Bluebirds were left to rue as Jimmy Gill squandered an open goal.

Huddersfield drew with Nottingham Forest and lost their game in hand to Aston Villa but pipped Cardiff to the title by the smallest margin in history - a goal average of 0.024 goals - when Cardiff were held at Birmingham and Huddersfield beat Forest 3-0.

1958 - Wales 2-0 Israel

5 February, 1958: World Cup 1958 Qualifying play-off
Wales 2-0 Israel

Wales had initially failed to qualify for the 1958 World Cup - finishing behind Czechoslovakia in qualifying Group Four - but earned a reprieve because of the Middle East troubles.

Israel had won their Asian/African zone group by default when Egypt and Sudan refused to play them while Indonesia wanted to play Israel on neutral ground - but FIFA were reluctant to allow a team into the World Cup finals without playing a match so lots were drawn of Europe's second-placed teams.

Wales were drawn against Israel and goals from Ivor Allchurch and David Bowen beat them 2-0 in Ramat-Gan before Allchurch and Cliff Jones scored to beat Israel 2-0 at Ninian Park as Wales qualified for their only major finals.

1964 - Cardiff City 0-0 Sporting Lisbon

23 December, 1964: European Cup Winners Cup round two second-leg
Cardiff City 0-0 Sporting Lisbon

Cardiff's 1964 Welsh Cup triumph earned them their first European adventure and after defeating Danish team Esberj in the first round, the Welsh club were rewarded with a plum tie with defending European Cup Winners' Cup champions Sporting Lisbon.

Jimmy Schoular's side shocked the Portuguese giants in the first leg in Lisbon 2-1 as Greg Farrell and Derek Tapscott scored to inspire a momentous victory.

The return leg anything but a dour stalemate as the great John Charles' experience at the back help guide Cardiff through to secure safe passage to play Real Zaragoza of Spain, who defeated Cardiff over two-legs.

1967 - Winstone v Saldivar

15 June, 1967: WBC and WBA world featherweight title
Howard Winstone v Vicente Saldivar

European featherweight champion Howard Winstone's rematch with Vicente Saldivar was in front of 30,000 home fans packed inside Ninian Park.

The Eddie Thomas-trained fighter had already lost to the Mexican two years earlier at Earls Court in London over 15 rounds on points and again the Welshman took Saldivar the distance.

Controversially the result was the same as Winstone thought he should have won the belt - and Saldivar completed his hat-trick over the Merthyr Tydfil man when he knocked Winstone out in the 12th round four months later at the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City.

1968 - Cardiff City 2-3 Hamburg

1 May, 1968: European Cup Winners Cup semi-final second-leg
Cardiff City 2-3 Hamburg

Cardiff progressed further in Europe than any other Welsh team when in the 1967/68 season following a three-legged last eight win over Torpedo Moscow, Scholar's side set up a semi-final clash with Hamburg.

West German greats Uwe Seeler and Willi Schulze were in the Hamburg side that Cardiff held 1-1 in the first-leg in front of 70,000 fans at the Volksparkstadion as Norman Dean's goal gave Cardiff hope.

But the brave Bluebirds suffered a cruel defeat in the return leg.

1971 - Cardiff City 1-0 Real Madrid

10 March, 1971: European Cup Winners Cup quarter-final first-leg
Cardiff City 1-0 Real Madrid

Brian Clark secured immortal status at Ninian Park when his unforgettable winner beat the great Real Madrid side in Cardiff's finest hour in front of their own fans.

The striker's 31st minute header from teenager Nigel Rees's pin-point cross against the six-times European champions and most famous in the world sent an estimated 50,000 fans into raptures.

Cardiff could have scored more and the South Wales Echo proclaimed: "Whatever happens in Madrid, nobody can take anything away from the players for their wonderful show." Just as well as the Bluebirds lost 2-0 in the return at the Bernabéu.

1976 - Wales 1-1 Yugoslavia

22 May, 1976: European Championship quarter-final second-leg Wales 1-1 Yugoslavia

Welsh football's class of '76 are often referred to as the forgotten team as they are overlooked when remembering Wales teams who performed at the highest possible level because the quarter-final clash was not at a major finals.

Wales had lost the first leg 2-0 in Zagreb but Wales improved dramatically in one of the biggest days of Welsh football history as they held the Yugoslavs to a 1-1 draw.

The visitors took the lead as Katalinski converted a penalty after Page fouled Popivoda in the box but the crowd lifted Wales and Ian Evans equalised with his first Wales goal but it could not inspire what would have been a famous comeback.

1982 - The Pope visits Ninian Park

2 June, 1982: Pope John Paul II visits Ninian Park

The Pope ensured hallowed turf at Ninian Park when the pontiff spoke at a youth rally in front of 33,000 crowd at Cardiff City's ground in 1982.

Pope John Paul II became the first reigning pontiff to visit Wales - the final leg of a six-day visit to the UK - amid the highest-security following an attempt on the Pope's life the year before.

He led Mass in front of 150,000 people at Pontcanna Fields before travelling in the Popemobile to Ninian Park.

1994 - Cardiff City 1-0 Man City

29 January, 1994: FA Cup Fourth Round
Cardiff City 1-0 Manchester City

Cardiff City's star man lived up to his billing as Nathan Blake's moment of magic inspired the third division strugglers to a famous victory against Premier League Manchester City.

Blake's stunning 64th minute winner earned Cardiff one of their most memorable FA Cup giant-killings and it proved the springboard for Blake's career in the top-flight career.

Cardiff goalkeeper Mark Grew's superb penalty save from Keith Curle was of equal importance as their win secured an ultimately unsuccessful fifth round tie with Luton Town.

Scott Young sweeps home to score
Young scores one of Cardiff's most famous FA Cup goals against Leeds

6 January, 2002: FA Cup Three Round
Cardiff City 2-1 Leeds United

This was the day League One Cardiff City produced one of the greatest FA Cup shocks in recent times as the Bluebirds humbled the multi-millionaires of Leeds United, the then Premier League leaders, in front of the television cameras.

Leeds were given a hostile welcome but Mark Viduka gave the visitors an early lead before Graham Kavanagh's stunning free-kick goal gave Cardiff hope that the romance of the FA Cup was not dead.

The baying crowd sensed a cup upset when Leeds were reduced to ten men when Alan Smith was sent off for lashing out at Andy Legg and Scott Young's late winner from Kavanagh's corner earned him a place in Cardiff folklore.



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see also
Farewell Ninian Park
20 Apr 09 |  Cardiff
Fans bid farewell to Ninian Park
05 May 09 |  History
Sport Wales: The TV programme
28 Sep 09 |  Wales
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Cardiff 0-3 Ipswich
25 Apr 09 |  Championship


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