The first Cardiff City game I ever went to was on the March 30th 2010, Cardiff v. Leicester City. It was a big season for us, one of the best, actually (anything seems better than this season’s showing), as we had a real change of winning promotion to the promised land – the Premier League. Leicester were tough opponents, but Cardiff proved tougher. Ross McCormack (yes, all £11 million of him, who Cardiff sold for £250,000…) opened the scoring, before a certain number 7 smashed in a second. It was Peter Whittingham.
Last week, Peter “Whitts” Whittingham was named in the Football League’s Championship Team of the Decade, alongside Top Flight stars like Adam Lallana, Ricky Lambert and some kid from Whitchurch now playing in Spain. And there, in the middle, was Whittingham. During the 2009/10 season, my first, he finished the league’s joint-top goal scorer, as Cardiff lost in the play-off final. With 380 appearances, only eight other players have worn the famous blue shirt on more occasions, which barely hints at the remarkable impact he has made on the club’s fortunes. To score 85 goals in the process is even more outstanding.
His usefulness and ability have come under fire in recent years, particularly this season, where he was shown his first red card against Wolves and has been the target of much criticism from the fans and media. Certainly, he has never been a player to get stuck in to challenges like more robust players have, but ability, at dead-balls and set-pieces, is one thing that cannot be questioned. Cardiff fans have had many names to revere over the years- Keenor, Charles, Toshack, Clark- and Whittingham deserves to be up there. He is a hero for Cardiff today, as he should be.
My favourite Whittingham moment has to be that free kick in the play-offs against Leicester. What a goal, and what a great player.