THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Cardiff City v Swansea City, 4pm

icon spursport3 November ~ Today sees the first Welsh derby in the Premier League, which is rightly being celebrated as evidence of both clubs' current success. However while eagerly anticipated by the media it is perhaps less so by the fans and players. The game is being portrayed as a contrast between two fundamentally different approaches to achieving success. Swansea are rightly lauded as the part fan-owned club who play good football while Cardiff have been widely vilified for allowing a foreign owner to change both their historic shirt colour and badge.

Some Cardiff fans have boycotted games in protest but are  outnumbered by others who seem to have decided it is a price worth paying. This majority might point to a larger stadium and potential fanbase as evidence that they, rather than their rivals, are the more sustainable Premier League proposition

The South Wales derby has always been a passionate, sometimes violent, affair and this is reflected in the fact it is once again a "bubble match", with all Swansea supporters being bused to and from the ground. The same will happen at the Liberty Stadium in February and the afternoon kick-off was a surprise given that previous games have been at lunchtimes to avoid prolonged drinking beforehand.

The appointment of Mike Dean as referee seems a strange decision as he can't have happy memories of his last derby match in 2009. Then he was hit on the head by a coin thrown by a Cardiff supporter and then awarded them an extremely dubious injury-time penalty which saw Cardiff salvage a draw. It's fair to say neither set of fans are overly keen on the appointment.

Yet while the game is being hyped by the media as the biggest South Wales derby ever, it is questionable whether it will have the passion and intensity of previous years. Both teams accurately reflect the cosmopolitan nature of the league they now play in.

Swansea have eight Spaniards in their squad and, with left-back Ben Davies out injured, will only field two Welsh players, neither of whom are from South Wales. Cardiff's solitary Welshman, Craig Bellamy, is likely to start on the bench. For the players it is a "local" derby in name only.  

Beating your closest rivals used to be very important when that was all that you had to cling to. However both teams now have the target of Premier League survival and a volatile derby could see such ambition hampered by the loss of key players to injury or suspension.

While neither team has previously managed to achieve the league double over the other, you suspect either set of fans would gladly exchange the ignominy of derby defeat for a guarantee of Premier League survival. A victory will be wildly celebrated but it will be as much for the three points as for putting one over local rivals. Paul Ashley-Jones

Related articles

Brian Flynn: Little wonder by Leon Barton
St David’s Press, £13.99Reviewed by Huw RichardsFrom WSC 378, September 2018Buy the book Biography it may be, but this life of Brian...
Neil Warnock proving budget cuts no barrier to ambition as he inspires Cardiff
Embed from Getty Images // Ahead of their derby clash with Bristol City, Cardiff find themselves in an unlikely automatic promotion race in what...
Remembering Robin Friday – the Reading and Cardiff maverick ahead of his time
With the two clubs meeting on Monday evening it’s worth looking back at a cult figure who was the the patron saint of bad-boy, and is the...