"Flying with the Wolves"
It started as a mad cap idea, but now it really looks as if it's happening – a group of Cardiff City fans will literally be taking to the air on Saturday, January 20th 2006 to show support to their team in their Championship match against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
As is well known now, Wolves' Board, on the advice of the West Midlands Police, are banning all Cardiff fans from attending the match on January 20th due to "a history of past violence at the fixture".
Last year, 17 people were arrested at the game, and Cardiff City FC was charged by the FAW for failing to control their fans. This, it would appear, is what the decision to ban Cardiff fans has been based upon. However, what most of the media fail to report is;
1. Of the 17 arrests, not all were Cardiff fans
2. Subsequently, only 1 charge was bought against those 17 arrests
3. The FAW, after lengthy deliberation, dropped all charges against the football club, saying there was no case against them.
Therefore, what is the justification, on these facts, to ban Cardiff fans from attending the game on the 20th ?
Naturally, Cardiff City fans are aggrieved at this perceived injustice – but now, the Football Supporters Federation, a non-partisan, voluntary body representing the interests of all football fans, have organized a peaceful protest in Wolverhampton on the morning of the game – fans from all across the UK, representing the vast majority of football clubs, have shown huge support to the cause. They believe that the ban imposed on Cardiff fans sets a very dangerous precedent that could have all sorts of negative implications for football fans all across the UK.
So why are a small bunch of Cardiff fans sidestepping the ban by taking to the air ?
In some peoples view, it's just a bit of a laugh, or a bit of an empty gesture to protest in this way. A little bit of hot air even !
In reality, there is a lot more substance to the event. This novel way of supporting the team will have a lot of pragmatic outputs;
1. It will raise the profile of the injustice of the ban, and get all parties talking to find more constructive ways forward in the future.
2. Cardiff City Supporters groups have proved that constructive dialogue with clubs, police and football authorities over the years have had a tremendously positive effect on the amount of trouble and subsequent arrests made around football matches over recent times – indeed, Cardiff's approach is now being used as a model on a much broader scale.
3. There is no argument whatsoever with the Wolves players or fans – indeed, the Wolves fan groups have been the most supportive of all to the protest taking place on the 20th. Which group of fans wants to attend home matches with no opposition fans to sing to, shout at and have some friendly banter with – as well as enjoying a drink and a chat with them before and after games ? So the appearance of the airship whilst the match is on will give the Wolves fans an opportunity to have something to direct their passions towards – it will help in a very small way to make the occasion more enjoyable for them.
4. Players from both sides thrive on atmosphere – the appearance of the airship will make Wolves players realize that their opposition has support, and this will spur them on to greater efforts. But this won't be a self destructive move on the Cardiff aviators' behalf – hopefully, the Cardiff players will also appreciate that a huge number of their fans will have been showing support to them in Wolverhampton that day, and the appearance of a small group of those fans in the airship will be a symbol of that support. So the net result will be two groups of players trying that bit harder – a positive outcome all round.
These are just some of the reasons why a few Cardiff fans will be flying the flag in Wolverhampton on January 20th.