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Beginner's guide to being a Bluebird.

Where's the ground?

You can always follow the floodlights, but Cardiff City's home is Ninian Park, which can be found on Sloper Road, Leckwith. The club's main telephone number is 029 2022 1001 and the ticket office number is 0845 345 1400. City plan to move to a new state-of-the-art 30,000-seater stadium in next few years, which will be built on the site of the Cardiff Athletics Stadium.

HOW DO I GET THERE?

For those from out of town, exit the M4 at junction 33 (signposted Cardiff West/Barry/Penarth/Cardiff Bay) and follow these signs onto the A4232. Turn off after 6.1 miles (signposted Leckwith Industrial Estate and Athletics Stadium) onto Leckwith Road, following signs for the city centre, and turn into Sloper Road. Regular bus services also run from Cardiff Central bus station, making it easy for fans travelling by train to get to the ground.

WHERE CAN I PARK?

Much of the nearby street parking is residential permit only, but there is a main car park in the Athletics Stadium on Leckwith Road and other parking in nearby Canton.

WHERE CAN I EAT AND DRINK?

Most local pubs welcome City fans pre and post-match - the Lansdowne Hotel in nearby Lansdowne Road is a favourite. There are also plenty of bars and refreshment vans around the ground, particularly behind the Bob Bank stand.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Early Bird tickets - bought before matchday - for 'standard' games range from pounds 21 to pounds 18 for adult seating and pounds 15 to pounds 12 for concessions. Terrace spots cost pounds 18 and pounds 15 for adults and pounds 13 and pounds 10 for concessions. Places in the Spar Family Stand cost pounds 16 for adults, pounds 8 for concessions and pounds 6 for children under 10. These prices rise slightly for matchday purchases and for 'premium' games against top opposition.

WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE AND AFTER THE MATCH?

Matchday announcer Ali Yassine plays a wide selection of music before the game, as well as reading fans' messages and giving out team information. After the game, supporters gather in the stadium's bars to carry out post-match analysis.

WHAT DOES THE TEAM RUN OUT TO?

Operatic music fills the ground before the teams make their entrance to U2's Elevation.

WHAT DO THE FANS SING?

When the cry goes up to 'Do The Ayatollah', raise both your hands and pat your head. Players and the City management are often encouraged to join in.

WHO'S THE CROWD FAVOURITE?

Teenage goal machine Cameron Jerome - six strikes already this season - is the new Ninian Park idol.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?

Call in at the club shop by the main entrance for all your City shirts and scarves. Kevin Murphy, 52, a retired plant driver from Merthyr Tydfil, has supported City for 40 years.

'I've followed the club home and away since 1965, and unfortunately many of our fans seem to have short memories. 'Before Sam Hammam, we were languishing in the lower divisions, now we are playing in a cracking league.

'There will be ups and downs, but that's football. Fans need to get off their backsides and support the club. 'This is our club and we need the big crowds to terrify the opposition.' Kevin Milward, 45, a hospital supervisor porter from Porth, has supported City for 37 years.

'I haven't missed a City game, home or away, for four and a half years, and Sam Hammam and Dave Jones are doing a good job - so now is the time to get behind them.

'There were 16,000 at the Leeds game and they saw the best entertainment you could wish for. Where have all those people gone?

'Cardiff City is my life. We have always said we are a sleeping giant - now we need to prove it.' Bethan Evans, 19, a student from Treorchy, Rhondda, has supported City for 13 years.

'I go to every match and love the atmosphere at away games - what we need to do is repeat that at home games.

'We can play our part in the team doing well, as we did when we played Leeds.

'It's great to see young people being encouraged to come and see City, but we need more local people to support their local team. You can see an increase in the number of City shirts on the streets - now we need to get them at the game.' Chris Mumford, 44, a company secretary from Cowbridge, has supported City for 36 years.

'I'm all for this campaign to encourage bigger attendances - it's so important. People have to show their support for City and the way they are going - and they are going in the right direction.

'We all know the potential is there and we have to tap into it. If fans get behind the team, the team will go forward and we will maintain a strong level of support.' Darryl Humphries, 30, a project manager from Church Village, supported City for 21 years.

'It's vitally important people get behind us. The biggest problem is the rugby fans ask us to get behind the rugby team, but they don't do the same for us.

'When we get our new stadium, the club will go forward, but there's no point building it if we can't fill it. When we get big crowds, the players bounce off the fans and vice versa. You should support your local team, not Manchester United or Liverpool.' Ali Yassine, 42, City matchday announcer from Grangetown, Cardiff, has supported City for 30 years.

'It might not have been the best of times for the club recently, but now is the time to restore people's faith.

'I was in a taxi yesterday and the driver asked me if I had seen the text message he had got from Dave Jones, asking fans to come to today's game. He said it gave him such a buzz to have got a message like that from the manager. 'And what Dave Jones says is right - we can all make the difference.' Graeme Blyth, 37, a European funding officer for Cwmbran council from St Mellons, Cardiff, has supported City for five years.

'As fans, we all have our part to play, and there is no doubt the potential for bigger crowds is there. After all, we are definitely the biggest club in Wales.

'I go and watch City week after week, win, lose or draw, and we can go all the way. Big crowds will spur the players on, and if the team gets on a roll, more people will come and watch them. It's a great feeling when Ninian Park is full and everybody is getting behind the team.' Roger Jenkins, 50, runs the Lansdowne Hotel in Canton, Cardiff, he has supported City for 12 years.

'We definitely need bigger crowds and I just hope we get them, starting with the Palace game today. We need every City fan to get down to Ninian and get behind the team.

'It's a great atmosphere at City when things are going right, a day out with great people, and I like seeing how this new team is gelling together. We all know we have the fan base - it's just a question of getting it along to the games.' John Slocombe, 40, self-employed from Heath, Cardiff, has supported City for 35 years.

'The fans have to put their money where their mouth is. I can't believe the crowds are so low because we have such a catchment area and we all want to see success - the potential is there.

'We are playing in the Championship - there are outstanding teams and players to watch. Big crowds make a big difference and create an electric atmosphere. Without the support, we cannot build the team we all want.' Steve Williams, 39, a maintenance technician for the Welsh Ambulance Service from Heath, Cardiff, supported City for more than 20 years.

'The fans should turn out win, lose or draw. You cannot be a fairweather fan - you have to turn out in all weathers.

'We had 35,000-plus fans at the play-off final, so it shows the supporter base is there. We may have had a bad time recently, but there is plenty of optimism for the future under Dave Jones' management.

'If we could get crowds of 15,000 or more, the atmosphere would be awesome.'
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 17, 2005
Words:1396
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