On Tuesday night, Cardiff City finally achieved promotion to the Premier League with a 0-0 draw at home to Charlton Athletic.
After three years of play-off heartbreak for the Bluebirds, Malky Mackay’s side finally achieved a return to the top flight of English football for the first time in over half a century.
Coincidentally it was 53 years to the day since Cardiff last secured promotion to the top division when a 1-0 win over Aston Villa was enough to see them reach the old First Division alongside the Villains and ahead of the chasing pack of Liverpool and Sheffield United.
City’s stay in the top flight, however, was all too brief as they were relegated after just two seasons.
But after years of traipsing from Spotland to Boundary Park to Deepdale, the Bluebirds are back. It’ll be Ryan Giggs not Gigg Lane for City’s faithfull next season!
And times have certainly changed in the 51 years since their last appearance at English football’s top table.
In the 1961/62 season, Alf Ramsey led Ipswich Town to their first, and so far only, league title with Burnley, champions in 1960, finishing as runners-up.
Today’s ‘big boys’, Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City had a season of mid table mediocrity whilst Chelsea finished bottom of the table, the only side with a worse record than Cardiff.
Liverpool weren’t even in the top division that season. Their manager, Bill Shankly, had guided the Reds to two successive third place finishes in the second division before finally securing promotion in 1962, swapping places with Cardiff City at the end of the season.
Swansea Town, as they were known then, narrowly avoided relegation to the Third Division, but there was no such luck for Newport County, who finished bottom of the Third Division whilst player-manager, Ken Barnes, led Wrexham in the opposite direction, securing promotion from the Fourth Division.
Of course, the main difference for Cardiff in 2013/14 compared to 1961/62 will be the riches on offer and the wall to wall media coverage associated with the Premier League.
Back in 1962, Match of the Day wasn’t even a doodle on a tv producer’s notepad; the first programme being broadcast in 1964, whereas next season Cardiff City, as the 46th club to have played in the Premier League, will see their matches beamed into the homes of over 600 million people in 202 countries worldwide.
Whilst the fans, and players, enjoy their time in the spotlight … and the first top flight south Wales derby … Malky Mackay’s job will be to ensure that the Bluebirds’ stay lasts longer than the ignominious season long soirées of Barnsley, Blackpool, Burnley and Swindon Town.
Pob lwc i’r Adar Gleision!