Tales From Wales – Part 15: It’s Knott Unusual | @Matt_C_Wills

Merry Monday! Matt is with us again and it’s the time for the final update of the season. There’s a lot at stake too, with Cardiff hoping to seal survival and then the small matter of Wales at the 2002 World Cup.

Hello, welcome, croeso – it’s Blue Monday apparently, but here we are only interested in Welsh music makers, sorry Hookey.

We’re into the business end of taking my all Welsh Cardiff squad into their first season in Premiership, where in the last part we had a little upturn in form to keep us away from the trapdoor and of course, we’ll be steering the national team to Japan 2002.

A quick reminder of where we were and where we are….

And how close we are to the bottom….

Action picks up with a visit from 19th placed Leeds and we’re looking good for 3 points until we fade in the final 10 minutes…

Phillips getting injured after the hour might be whats causing us to unravel…

I’m sure I’ve mentioned I hate playing Leicester and Kasey Keller before, haven’t I?

No injuries against Watford, but also no points and this is no time to start plummeting down the table…

World Cup warm up time now, and I’m sure we’re face sterner tests than Luxembourg. Double Parry. I only celebrate the first one though, David will have to earn my respect back after jumping ship to Aston Villa…

One of the things about only signing Welsh players is you lose touch with the star names of the game. Andrews off to Maine Road it seems

Another 2-2 draw – we have no problem scoring at the moment, but we just can’t seem to hold a lead. I’m starting to miss the experience of Kevin Ratcliffe and Alan Knill…

Leicester snatch the League Cup with the help of a CM9798 star and a Welsh striker

Finally a win! Cum on feel the noize!

Almost immediately, we’re back to losing ways

Blimey, a clean sheet! Cheer up King of the Rooks!

South-paw action at Selhurst Park and Deniol Graham is back to remind us that he can score in all four divisions. Shame he can’t help us win though…

The lads get over excited after racing to a three goal lead and we manage to avoid a customary late collapse – how vital those 3 points might be…

Well, I guess Malta might be a sterner test than Luxembourg. If only we could play them in the league….

All 3 of my lads scoring there, lovely stuff.

The early bath for Nathan Davies derails our whole game plan and we were lucky to keep it to 2-0 to be fair. I daren’t look at the league table.

I still can’t look, but a red card in our favour this time might mean things will be ok….?

Before the final league game, Boro prevail in the Uefa Cup Final

We finish up with a visit from City and an eventful middle of the first half wraps up our domestic season.

In my haste to get to the World Cup and beyond, I forgot to screenshot the final league table, but we ended up finishing 15th, which for a first season with no big signings to speak of ain’t bad going! The form table I did remember to grab though, for some reason…

Inter do the biz in the Cup Winners Cup

While Utd put one over on Arsenal in the FA Cup

Not sure why they put Porfirio up front over Shearer. Ronaldo and Shearer upfront, it’s never fair I suppose.

A final I could only dream of with my Cardiff lads is a one sided affair

Cheeky little bit of transfer business before I have to pick my squad for the World Cup.

He’ll be on the plane with me, as will Shakin Stevens, who I appoint as my assistant/entertainment manager. He’s so emotional, I forgot to screenshot my final squad, age must be getting to me….

Holland are the first of our two warm up games and I feel losing by a single goal isn’t too bad a result….

The USA on the other hand should be a team we’re getting one over, especially when Balboa goes awol again…

Not sure I’ll be able to cope with Carl Williams missing anymore penalties…

So, we jet off to Japan, with well wishes from Sir Tom Jones, Bonnie Tyler and the lovely Katherine Jenkins. Shakey starts to sing a rendition of ‘Return to Sender’ on the plane so we ply him with complimentary whiskeys to send him to sleep.

So, Finland and the Ice-man Jari Litmanen are our first group foes and we couldn’t get off to a brighter start. Carl Williams roomed with Shakey n the eve of the game, but apparently he snores like a tractor so I give my new signing Knott the nod and he doesn’t disappoint, off to a flyer!

It’s Argentina up next and I keep faith with the Knott/Hartson combo and we edge past the South American’s. Incredible scenes in the National Stadium in Japan and the streets of Cardiff and Swansea I imagine….

Amazing stuff, with a game to spare

The last group game is Zambia, and we squeeze through without getting out of 2nd gear

Carl Williams is now sleeping in the laundry cupboard and he said it’s the best thing really…

Time to learn our fate for the 2nd round…

Bloody hell – what was the point in finishing first in the group, that’s no reward!

The game turns out to be a rollercoaster. That man Knott gets us in front just after half time when Del Piero had threatened to run away with things. We’re holding on when Tacchinardi scores and I’m relieved to get to the end of 90 minutes.

I hate the golden goal stuff, every flash of blue and white text puts a shiver down my spine, but in the end it’s in the lap of the Gods as we go to penalties.

Fatigue, nerves, something, gets to Knott, who’s been amazing and we’re on the back foot until Totti misses and so it goes back and forth until the legend that is Robert Page misses that fateful kick and leaves it to Galante to send the Italians into the next round and our adventure meets its end

I let this guy go, he promised so much so early on in Division 2, but never really progressed.

Before we fly home from Japan, I check in on the quarter finals and we were only a Robert Page kick away from playing Canada! Bloody Canada! That would have almost been a bye into the semi-finals! fate is a cruel mistress I tell Shakey – he looks at me blankly – I don’t know what I get out of this partnership sometimes….

The money I got for Kristian I spend on an old boy before we’ve even hit the tarmac at the airport…

We come back to, while not quite a hero’s return, a fair few slaps on the back and hand shakes. Bobby Gould did good it seems.

Italy go all the way and see off Germany and it’s time for those end of season awards things

The Patronus of Neville Southall scoops some prizes

So there we go, what a season, what a journey. We’ve diddly squat, but we had some fun and I managed to keep an all Welsh squad in the Premiership and we ran the eventual World Champions close at the world cup, so more pluses than minuses I think.

However…this has been bloody hard work! Even trying to come up with the title of a song by a Welsh singer that fit the update was a struggle, expect this time when Knott became a goal machine at just the right time (penalties aside).

So, it’s time to wrap this save up in cotton wool and put it in the draw with my Shakin Stevens 2020 calendar, but fear not, Dave has said I can come back next Monday with a new save and blog, which I’ll be calling AFC United – Alex Ferguson’s CastOffs… see you then and thanks for sticking with me and i’m sure we’ll pick up Tales from Wales at some point again….

Leave a Reply