Cardiff City - from blue to red
Over the years, long car journeys to remote away grounds have provided plenty of opportunity to explore the existential conundrums which underline being a football fan. What really makes a football club? What is the intangible source of identity which keeps drawing so many of us back to the terraces, week after week, season after season?
It’s a difficult one, and I am certainly not going to pretend to have the answer.
But I am certain that one source of that identity is the shirt. To borrow and then unashamedly extend an overused cliché - managers and players come and go, fans eventually pass on, new grounds are built and memories fade. But the shirt…..the shirt never disappears.
Unless you’re Cardiff City.
I’m sure even non-Cardiff fans felt a twinge of regret when they discovered that the club’s new Malaysian owners have decided to change Cardiff’s traditional blue kit to red. There are so many stories on this site which show how important football shirts can be – the memories they capture, the feelings they arouse. Surely the shirt is sacred, not to be meddled with?
As an Arsenal fan, the importance of the colour red extends far beyond the club. This positive associations with my club colour (pun intended) every day life.
Table football? I’ll always go for the red team. Red or blue trim on those new trainers? No contest. Even hair style - who can forget Freddie Ljungberg’s red hair streak tribute, quickly adopted by many fans? A sign of his commitment to the club, embraced by thousands.
My point is this – the colour of a club’s shirt goes way beyond the practical identification of players on a pitch. It’s at the very core of what it means to support a team; City’s Blue Moon; The Black and White Magpies of Newcastle; Arsene Wenger’s Red and White Army; the Red Devils of Manchester.
And the Blue Birds of Cardiff.
By this decision, regardless of what may be very well founded commercial reasons, the management of Cardiff City have torn the identity of that club apart.
We live in the era of big money and that brings benefits. Clearly we need to accept some downsides, but there still need to be lines that rich sheikhs and Malaysian billionaires won’t cross.
On this occasion, it hasn’t just been crossed. It has been turned from blue to red.