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Bluebirds would do late 'gramp' proud soaring to Premier League.

Byline: STEVE TUCKER Tucker's take on the rise of Cardiff City steve.tucker@mediawales.co.uk

IREMEMBER the evening my gramp died. Up at Cardiff's Velindre Hospital they have a little room, a quite nice one, where families can sit and relax while they keep a vigil over a loved one.

I remember it well because it was a Saturday and the football scores were coming in on the television.

A report from some less than exotic location announced that Cardiff City had lost out once more in typically frustrating fashion.

It was no big thing, no major game and the Bluebirds had a tendency to lose out a lot in those days. Just then my mum came in and asked did I want to spend some time with my grandfather on my own.

I went into the room he was in and sat at his bedside. I held his hand and remembered how big it felt when I'd held it as a child. And I talked and talked and talked about everything I could think of: of my nan, who had died years before, about growing up in Fairwater.

I talked about everything that popped into my head, all the funny stories | Gramp's king Stan and the sad stuff which life throws up. There was no expression on my grandfather's face, I was not even sure if he could still hear me.

And then I remembered Cardiff City and I said to him: "Cardiff lost again, gramp."

And there it was, a flicker, just a downturn of the mouth, only faint, but enough, as if to say: "Those bloody idiots."

My gramp had been a regular down the City in the 1930s and '40s apart from when he and his mates had gone off to fight a war.

They were incredible times for the club with the sold-out signs going up an hour before kick-off at Ninian Park and the Bob Bank groaning as crowds of 40,000 and more somehow squeezed in to see the action.

My gramp would always tell me about Stan Richards, one of the greatest strikers the Bluebirds have ever seen.

He held the record for the number of goals scored for the club in a season for 56 years until a certain Robert Earnshaw broke it in 2003.

But what amazed me were the stories of how Richards, a superstar of his day, travelled to Ninian Park on match days with my gramp and the rest of the Cardiff faithful on the bus. Clutching his wash-bag and with his boots hanging over his shoulders, this man, who would soon be thrilling thousands, paid his fare and sat and chatted.

"It wouldn't happen with today's overpaid lot," my gramp used to say and he was right. It wouldn't.

But that doesn't mean the passion is any less real. Or that the desire and commitment is any less strong in today's players compared to those of the past, irrespective of how much money they have in their pay packets.

You just have to see what Malky Mackay and his men have achieved this season and the way they have gone about it.

favourite, goal Richards The drive, the passion and the drama. Rudy Gestede howling with joy as he thunderously headed home against Nottingham Forest on the weekend and Mackay himself punching the air in triumph at the end of a game. Tonight, there promises to be a real party in the Welsh capital. One to remember.

There will be screaming and singing, laughter and tears.

If it does happen I will raise a glass to my gramp who would have loved it all.

But it's not just my gramp, just about everyone at the Charlton game will have someone: a father, a mother, an uncle, a brother or an old friend who we would give anything to have beside us, but who sadly cannot be there.

Do you know what I would say to my gramp if Cardiff do make it up tonight.

I'd turn to him and say: "Not such bloody idiots now gramp are they?" Enjoy.

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| Gramp's favourite, goal king Stan Richards
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 16, 2013
Words:692
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