It has been 13 years since Cardiff City FA Cup Final heartache against Porstmouth. The 2008 Final is still the most attended fixture ever at Wembley Stadium, with over 89,000 fans cramming into the newly built stadium, hosting it’s second FA Cup Final.
Cardiff City were aiming to be the first side since 1980 to win the Cup whilst below the top Division, when West Ham defeated Arsenal in the final to claim the trophy. They had spent 5 years in the second division, since their Third Division (Now League One) Play off Final victory over Queens Park Rangers.
The FA Cup Run
Cardiff City made their way to the FA Cup Final in 2008, but only the second time in their history. The Bluebirds won the FA Cup in 1927, with a howler from Wales International Goalkeeper Dan Lewis gifting City the trophy against Arsenal, in a 1-0 victory. However, this game purportedly gave way to a new tradition for Arsenal, always washing goalkeepers jerseys before a match, due to the error made by the goalkeeper in this match.
The Bluebirds had a relatively easy route to final, coming up against the lowest ranked team to ever make it to the third round, Chasetown. They beat the minnows 3-1, with goals from Peter Whittingham, Aaron Ramsey and Paul Parry. In the following rounds, they beat Hereford and Wolverhampton before taking on Premier League Middlesbrough. Dave Jones’ side won 2-0 at the Riverside, thanks to goals from Peter Whittingham and Roger Johnson. This lead the Bluebirds to a semi-final draw against fellow Championship outfit Barnsley.
The First Trip to Wembley
The two teams set out at Wembley knowing either had the chance to make history. Both teams would enter Wembley as second tier teams, and had the chance to match West Ham’s feat 28 years earlier.
It was Cardiff City and Dave Jones who took the scalp that day, punching their ticket to the final courtesy of a looping Joe Ledley volley, with Cardiff wearing a lovely St Davids Flag inspired kit. This goal was the only one of the game, with Cardiff running out 1-0 winners and ready to face Portsmouth, who beat West Brom 1-0 in their Wembley trip thanks to a goal from Nigerian Legend Kanu.
The two teams faced off at Wembley, in a match where Portsmouth came out 1-0 winners when Cardiff City Goalkeeper Peter Enckleman parried a cross to let Kanu in to score on the 37th minute.
But what happened to the Cardiff City FA Cup Final team?
1. Peter Enckleman
The Finnish goalkeeper started the final, and his error let in Kanu to score the only goal of the game. Enckleman was on loan to Cardiff that season, but his parent club Blackburn Rovers released him at the end of the season, and he signed a 2 year deal with Cardiff City in the summer. Despite starting in the cup final, he spent the next season behind Cardiff loanee Goalkeeper Tom Heaton. The season after was behind Scotland International David Marshall, who helped Cardiff win the Championship in 2013.
Enckleman was released in 2010, and moved up north to join St Johnstone in Scotland. He became first choice in goal at the club, helping the club to 8th and 6th place finishes in his 2 seasons at the club. The Finn was released after 2 years, and remained in Scotland 6 months with Hearts. Enckleman made a single appearance, coming on as a first half substitute against Celtic, losing 1-0 to a saveable Georgio Samaras shot. He then moved back to Finland for a spell with IFK Mariehamn.
After retiring from the game in 2014, he has been working as a sales Executive for DHL, even turning out for companies team in tournaments from time to time.
2. Kevin McNaughton
Few words can describe what Kevin McNaughton means to fans of Cardiff City. The Scottish international nailed down the right back spot for nearly 9 years since signing for the Bluebirds in 2006 from Aberdeen. The Silver Haired Scot was a consistent figure at right back, despite starting off his Cardiff career in the left back spot.
Due to injuries, he only managed 26 appearances in Cardiff’s title winning side, but managed to make 5 Premier League appearances for the Bluebird. He spent most of the next two seasons on loan with Bolton Wanderers, where he failed to make the impact he had with City. McNaughton then spent a season with Wigan Atheltic, making only two appearances with the Lactics in League One, before returning home to Scotland. The Scot spent 4 seasons with 4 different clubs, before retiring in 2019 aged 37.
McNaughton was infamous for his lack of goals whilst playing for Cardiff, only managing to score 2 during his time at the club.
However, he did hit the headlines by running into female linesman Sian Massey in a match against Middleborough in the championship
McNaughton now works for Dundee United as a youth coach, and his hair is just as silvery as ever, just now it is more age appropriate!
12. Roger Johnson
One of the biggest fall from graces since leaving Cardiff City. Johnson lead the backline excellently during his time with Cardiff City. His fine form and partnership with Dutchman Glenn Loovens forced Dave Jones to keep club captain Darren Purse out the side. Johnson soon added goals to his game, scoring 5 league goals in each of his next two seasons. He started in the Cardiff City FA Cup final and gave a fine performance. The Englishman won the Cardiff City player of the Year for 2 of the 3 seasons he was at the club.
Johnson left the Bluebirds for Birmingham in a £5 million deal, and helped the Blues to a shock League Cup Final win over Arsenal in 2011. After the Blues were relegated in 2011, he joined fellow Midlands club Wolves. Things went downhill here for Johnson. It started off brightly, being handed the captaincy by now-Cardiff City boss Mick Mccarthy, but lost it in March after McCarthy was sacked and he turned up to training drunk, allegedly. He barely played after, with Wolves suffering back to back relegations.
Johnson then had similarly unsuccessful spells with Charlton and in the Indian Super League, but his career never recovered from the spell at Wolves.
“I will be totally honest, yes I had a few beers on the Sunday because I was disappointed I was not playing, that we were still losing. I had a couple of beers with a couple of friends.”Roger Johnson on the allegations of turning up late to training drunk
6. Glenn Loovens
Johnson’s partner for Cardiff City in the FA Cup Final was the Dutchman Glenn Loovens. The towering defending formed a rock solid partnership with Roger Johnson, leading to the dropping and eventual leaving of the club of club captain Darren Purse. He played in every FA Cup tie, and his consistent performances endeared him to the Cardiff City fans. He even had a goal in the final chalked off for a handball, a goal burned into my memory as a young City fan.
Loovens impressed so much he was courted by Celtic, with the Scottish powerhouses signing him the next summer for an undisclosed fee. The Dutchman struggled to gain starts in his first season, but after he settled into the team, and as a player he was a strong forthright defender, good in the air and willing to put in a strong tackle, there was much to like for the Parkhead faithful. He spent a good few years with Celtic, picking up a number of medals including an SPL medal, but then moved on to play for Real Zaragoza, then back to England with Sheffield Wednesday. Loovens reunited with former Bluebirds boss Dave Jones, becoming captain before making his way to Sunderland, where he retired.
3. Tony Capaldi
A versatile player, Capaldi was a crucial player for Cardiff City in their FA Cup run. Being able to man the left back spot and the left Midfield, his versatility was important in a long league campaign and cup run that saw the Bluebirds finish 7th on goal difference.
However, the Northern Ireland international only lasted 2 years in Cardiff, going on to play for a myriad of clubs on short term spells, such as Morcambe, Oxford, Tamworth, Barwell and Rushall Olympic. His career fell off a cliff after leaving Cardiff City, but fans of the Bluebirds will remember his long throw in’s and his help in helping reach the FA Cup Final.
11. Joe Ledley
One of the most successful members of this team, Joe Ledley is a legend in the Welsh game. The midfielder scored a wonderful volley for Cardiff in the Semi Final to send them to the final. Ledley stayed with Cardiff for 2 more season, scoring in the 2010 play off final loss against Blackpool. After the match, a mass shakeup of the club occurred, with players like Joe Ledley, Adam Matthews, Ross McCormack and Tony Capaldi all leaving the club, along with manager Dave Jones.
Ledley moved on a free transfer to Celtic, and was a key part in a team which won 3 SPL titles and a Scottish cup. He even started in that famous 2-1 over Barcelona, where former Cardiff City striker Tony Watt scored a brace to knock down the multi time European Champions. Ledley spent 4 years at Parkhead, before moving to his first Premier League club, Crystal Palace. He spent another 4 years at Palace but never really nailed down a starting place. He helped the club make it to an FA Cup final in 2016, losing to a Jesse Lingard goal in the final.
Ledley became a hero as part of the Wales team that made it to the EURO 2016 Semi Finals. He suffered a leg break the season prior with Crystal Palace, and played his first game in almost a year, coming on as a second half sub for David Edwards. After that, he started every single game up until the loss to Portugal, showing the engine he has been famous for his entire career.
He spent some time in Australia until returning to join Welsh side Newport County, where he still plies his trade age 34.
4. Gavin Rae
Gavin Rae is a Scottish midfielder who was a key figure in his 3 years at Cardiff. Remembered for his consistency in his first season, playing 55 games, and also for this song based on the tv show ‘Happy Days’
Rae spent 4 years with the blues but injuries stopped his progress. He later moved on to Scotland, where he spent 2 spells at Dundee and a successful time at that, leading his hometown club to the Scottish Championship trophy.Raee also moved to Aberdeen, where he spent 18 months. He is now the manager at Australian side Hakoah Sydney East FC, where he was a player and now head coach.
10. Stephen McPhail
Stephen McPhail! You never know what that boys gonna say!
Said nobody ever, because only I remember the early 2000s Australian Kids TV show, Fergus McPhail. But don’t let that stop you appreciating the talent of the Irish midfielder, who came through the Leeds academy. The classy midfielder suffered through cancer treatment whilst at Cardiff, and thanked the club and fans for their support during this time.
McPhail played for Cardiff until 2013, playing only two cup games in Cardiff’s Championship winning season. He spent a season with former boss Dave Jones at Sheffield Wednesday, before playing and being sporting director for Irish Club Shamrock Rovers. He also received a League Cup runners up medal for Cardiff’s defeat to Liverpool in 2012.
7. Peter Whittingham
No player has been loved by the Cardiff City faithful than the mercurial talent of Peter Whittingham. The Englishman made his name as a silky smooth midfielder for Cardiff City from 2007 all the way until 2017 when he spent a season with Blackburn. The winger spent 10 years as one of the best players in the Championship, and was voted in the EFL team of the decade.
Whittingham made his name at Ninian Park showcasing his immense talent with long rage goals, incredible free kicks, incredibly close control and an ice-cold demeanour. A goal celebration by Whittingham was always muted (and there were 96 of them for the Bluebirds) and he exuded cool. He stayed with Cardiff throughout the years despite year interest by Premier League clubs, making 457 appearances for Cardiff.
Whittingam was not just a winger, in the 2009/10 season he moved inside into midfield, scoring 20 goals in the league and becoming the last Cardiff player to do so, until Kieffer Moore equalled that record this season.
Whittingham helped City win the Championship in 2013 with 8 goals and 5 assists for Malky Mackay’s side, and bagged 3 goals and 6 assists the following season as City failed to avoid relegation. Despite interest from all over, he elected to stay with the Bluebirds for another 4 seasons.
Tragically, Whittingham passed away on on 18th March 2020 after suffering an injury in a pub in Barry, watching a Six Nations Rugby game. Tributes poured in from teammates and fans alike, with teammate Michael Chopra proclaiming him as “Cardiff’s greatest ever player”.
36. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
The legendary Dutchman joined Cardiff in 2007 after missing out on a move to Leicester City. He signed for Cardiff to form a striker partnership with fellow geriatric striker, Robbie Fowler. Hasselbaink brought the experience and professionalism that helped improve the squad, as well as chipping in with 7 league goals and Cardiff finished just outside the play offs.
Hasselbaink left the club in the summer after the cup final, retiring as a player. He moved into coaching with the Chelsea U16s, before in 2013 securing his first management job. The Dutchman took over at Royal Antwerp in Belgium, lasting one season and leaving on good terms after leading the club to a 7th place finish. He then had two spells at Burton Albion, as well as time spent at both QPR and Northampton town. He currently manages Burton Albion, who he joined on New Years day 2021.
11. Paul Parry
The Welsh international who could have been more. Immensely talented, by the winger a crippling fear of flying which prevented him from travelling to big away trips for Wales, and cross country trips for Cardiff.
The winger started up front with Hasselbaink at Wembley, and his energetic running provided just what Hasselbaink needed, although neither managed to make the scoresheet. After another year at Cardiff playing up front, Parry made a £300,000 switch to Preston North End, where he only scored 6 goals in 80 appearences. He later moved to Shrewbury town, where similar stats were put up.
Parry left football after retiring, opting to operate his own property management company, called Parry Property LTD.
- Aaron Ramsey – The 16 year old starlet from Caerphilly would have been the youngest ever cup winner, had the Bluebirds won that day. The 16 year old soon completed a £5 million move to Arsenal, where he stayed until 2019. Ramsey was a bright spark in the Arsenal side, but a horrific leg break by Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross curtailed his development and put him out for nearly a year. He recovered and won 3 FA Cups with Arsenal, as well as starring for Wales as they reached the Semi Final’s of the EURO 2016, the first in the countries history. He signed for Juventus in 2019 on a free transfer, becoming the first Welshman to win the Scudetto since John Charles.
One man who didn’t make the FA Cup final squad but needs a mention is Robbie Fowler. The Liverpool legend signed for Cardiff City to much fanfare and huge wages in 2007. Fowler only spent a year with Cardiff, not justifying his huge wages with only 13 appearances and a paltry 4 goals. A lot of the build-up for the FA Cup final revolved around whether Fowler would be fit to play, having missed a huge chunk of the season through injury. In the end, Fowler didn’t make the squad, and as he hadn’t made an appearance in the cup that season, never received a runners up medal.
Fowler turned down a new deal at Cardiff the next season, instead signing with former team-mate Paul Ince at Blackburn. He later came out that he regretted leaving Cardiff City, saying he “loved it” and “leaving Cardiff City was my biggest mistake” . He later moved to Australia and India, before retiring to manage in the Indian Super League
Dave Jones was in charge of the Bluebirds during their FA Cup final journey. He left the club 2 years later after losing in the play off final semi final to Reading, following a loss in the final a years previous. Jones was replaced by Malky Mackay who won the league.
He guided Sheffield Wednesday to the Championship, but was sacked 3 years later with the Owls 23rd in the league, with only one win until December 1st. Next, he then spent 17 games at Hartlepool, and has not managed since.
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