“Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.”
– Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
In 2012 I was a Cardiff City supporter. I was a season ticket holder and made the two hundred and sixty mile round trip for home matches. I don’t mention the distance to paint myself as a martyr. I never used it as an epithet introduction for banal conversation on sports radio station, for example. I attended matches for the reason that everyone else does. Because I enjoyed it.
When Vincent Tan made the decision to change Cardiff City’s traditional blue to red it flicked a switch within me. My visceral reaction was that I wouldn’t be able to support the football club if they weren’t wearing their traditional blue colours.
Explaining the decision to withdraw your support for a football club is not easy. Your reasons sometimes sound more like justifications, and the justifications are often appear weak under scrutiny, as many of them existed before the club’s re-brand. The change of colour brings into sharp focus thing like ticket prices, the unsustainable model of business the club is running and the fact the club had become a plaything for a rich bloke. However, these things have been true of Cardiff City for around a decade. Add the fact that there’s always been a violent element within Cardiff City’s support (something that was evident when those who wished to protest against Tan’s plans were threatened) so perhaps I should have quit my support long time ago? However, the re-brand felt different, the club’s change of colour to red appeared to break the spell in a way that all the other things couldn’t.
“So it’s gonna be forever
Or it’s gonna go down in flames
You can tell me when it’s over
If the high was worth the pain”
— Taylor Swift, 1989
I can understand why many would view the decision to stop supporting your football club as an odd stance to take. After all, it is only a colour. And one colour is not measurably better than another when it comes to playing games of association football. Essentially, it has to be admitted, that my decision to stop supporting my football club was irrational.
When I e-mailed the football club asking them to cancel my season ticket they sent a reply asking me to “think it through” and to “not make a knee jerk decision”. These are two things football clubs should never ask you to do.
Firstly, if you think it through, supporting your team of mercenaries against another team of mercenaries is a pretty silly thing to do. It doesn’t take one long, if you think it through, to realise you’ve been a fool. Secondly, knee jerk decisions are what football clubs are based on. That knee jerk decision to buy an overpriced programme, a cold pie, a lager in a plastic cup or an away ticket for a second flight game that costs over thirty pounds.
So much did the decision affect my support of the club that I never once felt as if I was missing out, or that I should go back and watch a game. Amazing when you consider that in those two years since the re-brand the football club won the Championship and played in top flight for the first time since the early 1960s. My general feeling towards the club was that they need Vincent Tan out and a return to blue. The way to achieve this would be to lose as many games f football as possible.
Just think while you been getting down and out about the liars
And the dirty dirty cheats of the world
You could have been getting down to this sick beat
– Taylor Swift, 1989
One of the wonderful side affects of Cardiff City’s rebrand is that it has allowed me to experience a life outside of the loyal support of one football club. I’ve been able, for example, to use non-blue toothbrushes. And when given the option to choose from identical products in different colours I’ve had the opportunity to experience green trainers and yellow t-shirts. And in that time I’ve not noticed any colour being more lucky than another.
Not being tied to a season ticket has also allowed me to further indulge in the delights of non-league football, the exhausting satisfaction of running half-marathons and the confusing world of Six Nations rugby and test cricket. It’s very difficult to not sound like a spurned lover, but it’s tough to think I’m not genuinely better off without Cardiff City Football Club.
People like you always want back the love they gave away
And people like me wanna believe you when you say you’ve changed
The more I think about it now
The less I know
All I know is that you drove us off the road
– Taylor Swift, 1989
A few weeks ago in the midst of rumours surrounding terrible season ticket renewal figures and a record low crowd for the visit of Colchester United in the FA Cup Vincent Tan made the decision to revert the club colours back to blue. It’s a sad state of affairs that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Russel Slade did more with their inept management to return the club back to blue than any fan protest did.
Now the boys are back in blue the option of returning has arisen. But if a week is a long time in football, then two years is an eternity. I’m sure I’ll get to a Cardiff City game before long, when an opportunity arises but I’d certainly not go out of my way to attend a match. There’s no hurry. Even for those who followed the club during its time in red the football club in its current state is a very hard beast to love. All of us , from boycotters to reluctant reds have seen the man behind the curtain, and for many it will never feel the same again.