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What’s an Ayatollah? One girl’s first football match

I have nine hours to familiarise myself with this team

For years, I had merely a cursory knowledge of football and all to do with it.

Granted, I knew the offside rule – demonstrated to me over dinner using salt and pepper shakers and a garden pea – but to say I was sketchy on the finer points of the game is an understatement of the highest order.

As far as I was concerned, Leboeuf was something you’d find on a Parisian bistro menu, Giggs were what music fans attend en masse… and the less said about Kaká the better.

However, part and parcel of being a journalist is the ability to write at length about a myriad of subjects – the beautiful game included. Thus, at some point I was forced to enrol in my very own football academy, where I remain today a reluctant – but increasingly knowledgeable – pupil.

Today is a milestone in my ongoing football education. I’m attending my first ever match – the second leg of Cardiff City v Reading in the Championship play-off final – and by all accounts it promises to be a baptism by fire.

Despite knowing more about football now than ever before, I already know that I will look horribly out of place. I don’t own a Bluebirds shirt; I’ll probably be in formal attire having gone straight from work, and I don’t know how to ‘do the Ayatollah’. I can barely do the Macarena.

To top it off, I’ve volunteered to write a post-match blog for ITV Wales. Strangely, this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve put pen to paper where Cardiff City is concerned. I once wrote a Bluebirds poem on behalf of a friend, who begged me to help her secure match tickets through a poetry competition. Her football knowledge and my rather amateur prose fused together in a beautiful marriage, which went a little something like this:

We’re known as the Bluebirds, though our kit was once brown

And no matter what happens, you won’t keep us down

We soar at the top of the beautiful game

‘Ayatollah!’ we cry, ‘Cardiff City’s our name!’

We surpass all the other Welsh teams by miles

And Dave Jones is our God on our Facebook profiles

His team is the tightest, the Bluebirds fly higher

Our feet are so fast that our boots are on fire

Jay Bothroyd’s skills make the game a lot sleeker

Just don’t call him Boothroyd like the past Commons speaker

‘Rocky’ Chopra is revered as the team’s token ‘pretty’

And Whittingham’s free kicks saw off Bristol City

We’re sponsored by SBOBET, our fans are impressed

When we take to the pitch with their name on our chest

Tomorrow it’s Scunthorpe, we’re playing at home

Our chants will be heard from here to Rome

So let’s fly the blue flag like never before

At the end of the season we’ll all know the score.

We didn’t win (I can’t say I’m shocked) but I’m hoping my little composition, and the research involved, will inadvertently have won me the most valuable prize of all – not showing myself up as a complete rookie at tonight’s match.

Post-match blog to follow.

Read Emily’s post-match blog here.

About Emily Gadd

ITV Wales Online Journalist


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