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We must enjoy adventure and prove Gary right; A FAN'S EYE VIEW OF THE BLUEBIRDS.

IF there was anything which vaguely resembled a cliffhanger as Cardiff City's 1997-98 season drew to a close, it was whether the team could set a new record for the most draws in a season for a Football League club.

In typical City fashion, they missed out on their chance of 'glory' with their 23 one-pointers, only equalling the record!

So it was that the Bluebirds ended the season 21st in Football League's basement division - at least it was one place higher than they had managed two years earlier when only Torquay and Scarborough finished below them. Then, 15 years ago, at the age of 42, I'd become reconciled to the fact that I would never see City play in the second tier again in my lifetime. And as for eating at the top table with the giants of Premier League football, forget it!

Watching my team play in the First Division (as it was called then) was a personal life ambition formed back in the 60s and when we ended that decade with a side that would knock on the promotion door three times, it only seemed a matter of time before it would happen. Nearly 30 years later I was the wise old bird smiling gently at the naive optimism of my youth.

Something went wrong with that scenario around the turn of the Millennium, though, when a rejuvenation process was kick-started at a club which had, despite the odd fleeting success, been dying on its feet for three decades. There were plenty of setbacks and heartbreaks along the way, but Cardiff City's trajectory has been remorselessly upwards, culminating in the promotion I'd dared not even imagine back in the bleak 90s.

This Sunday I will see my ambition fulfilled as I join thousands of City supporters in watching the first top-flight match played in Cardiff for 51 years.

Just think about that. In all likelihood, you are entitled to a free bus pass if you have seen Cardiff City play a home match at this level before. Apologies to anyone in their late fifties I've just insulted them, but you get the point I'm making!

It's also worth bearing in mind that the modern day Premier League is far different to the First Division City left in May 1962 when the penultimate home game of that season was played before a crowd of only 8,608.

Therefore, in many ways, it doesn't matter whether you are aged seven or 70, the next nine months are a voyage of discovery for all of us.

How will that voyage end? Well, Sam Allardyce wasn't the first to emphasise that home form could be crucial to our survival hopes as he reflected on his team's comfortable victory over us.

Indeed, Gary Neville has backed us to stay up and cited the part home supporters can play in influencing results at Cardiff City Stadium as a major reason for that opinion.

I'm under no illusions about Sunday. It's been along time since I''ve been to a home league game expecting us to lose, but I expect us to against Manchester City.

However, I'd like to think that at the end of the game, their players would be thinking they'd been made to work extremely hard and had to endure a loud and passionate atmosphere off it to get their three points.

This might be the only season we ever spend in the Premier, so let's not put ourselves in a position where we are saying 'maybe we could have stayed up if we had got behind the team more.' Come next May let's prove Gary Neville right!

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City have come a long way since the days of Mel Charles
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 21, 2013
Words:620
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