Some fascinating FA Cup games coming up this weekend for us Welsh football fans. Swansea City are away to Notts County, Newport County have a well-deserved home tie against Tottenham Hotspur, which will bring in some much needed finances to the club as well as hopefully enticing some new fans who will go to this game, and hopefully will want to return and finally Cardiff City up against Premier League leaders, Manchester City.
In the same fourth round in 1994, Cardiff City took on Manchester City at Ninian Park in front of just under 20,500 fans. Cardiff was plying their trade in the Second Division at the time with Eddie May at the helm and times were hard, but after a surprise victory in the previous round against Middlesbrough, a big FA Cup home tie was just the type of distraction from their struggles in the league that were needed.
At the time of the tie, Manchester City was a Premier League side, who were struggling in the league and had sacked their manager from the start of the season Peter Reid and had replaced him with Brian Horton. The playing staff included international players such as Terry Phelan, Steve McMahon, Niall Quinn and Paul Walsh. Also on their playing staff was Welsh players, Carl Griffiths a striker and two goalkeepers in the shape of Andy Dibble and Martyn Margetson, both keepers who during their careers played for Cardiff, for Margetson a number of years later.
The game was played on a Saturday afternoon in damp cold conditions and was a tight affair throughout. Manchester City was awarded a penalty but Cardiff City goalkeeper, Mark Grew made the save from Keith Curle, the Manchester City captain. In the sixty-fourth minute, Nathan Blake a hugely talented player got the ball on the right-hand side, Blake cut inside and curled the ball with great technique into the top left-hand corner of the goal past the despairing dive of Tony Coton. The keeper had to be replaced eight minutes later due to an injury and was replaced by a big hero at Cardiff City from his playing exploits Andy Dibble, who is now goalkeeper coach at Cardiff City.
Cardiff held on to win the game one-nil, and earn a fifth-round tie against Luton Town. Cardiff would ultimately lose the game but the atmosphere for that game was very different to the previous round not just due to the outcome of the match. Nathan Blake the hero of the previous round, had confirmed that he was going to be leaving Cardiff City and moving on elsewhere much to the disappointment and anger of the Ninian Park faithful. Blake did not play against Luton as the move to Sheffield United had already been agreed before the game for a fee of £300,000. Blake wanted to play but Cardiff needing the money did not want to take the risk of an injury curtailing the transfer. Blake was sat in the stands that day and took a lot of abuse from fans, who believed that it was Blake who was looking to get away from The Bluebirds. I was there that day and still recall the atmosphere before and after the game even all these years later.
29th January 1994 is a game that will be fondly remembered for years to come. If Cardiff City can overcome Pep Guardiola’s galaxy of world stars this coming weekend then this would be a bigger giant-killing achievement especially if Manchester City put out their strongest side, but there is no doubt Neil Warnock and his team will be up for the challenge in what should be a great day for all concerned.
The two sides that day were as follows:
David Brightwell (unused)
Best of luck to all Welsh clubs in the FA Cup this weekend, let’s hope they all are in the draw for the fifth round, fingers crossed.
Feature Picture Credit: http://www.news.bbc.co.uk