It wasn’t really the best soccer, but who cares? Today marked the first ever South Wales Derby in the English Premier League. This is a heated rivalry between Cardiff City and Swansea City, two teams that have faced off since 1912. The two Welsh sides recently crashed the English party. Swansea has been in the league for a few years, but Cardiff’s promotion last season meant that for the first time in history, two Welsh squads would play each other in the EPL. I’ve been so excited for this. Being an American whose extent with world travel is walking to Niagra Falls, Canada from the New York end, it’s wonderful to see these local rivalries.
Wales is the least of the three in the United Kingdom when it comes to soccer prowess. There are current and former players that are strong from there, such as Ryan Giggs, Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale and Craig Bellamy, but for the most part, Wales is overlooked. To see two teams from Wales playing in world soccer’s biggest league was very cool.
Cardiff was the home team and the team that came out on top with a 1-0 victory. Steven Caulker was the hero with a goal in the 62nd minute off a corner. Caulker beat the very able Swansea defender Chico Flores and the Cardiff City Stadium erupted with delight.
Things got crazy late in the game as Michel Vorm, the Swansea goalkeeper, took a Cardiff player down outside the box, earning a red card. All of Michael Laudrup’s three substitutions had been used, meaning Swansea defender Angel Rangel had to put on Vorm’s shirt and hop in goal. Rangel saved the resulting free kick by pushing it over the bar, which truly was cool stuff. Clearly Cardiff went for accuracy to test Rangel, but the save was still made.
As full time hit, the Cardiff fans erupted in unison, staying in the stadium for at least 30 minutes after the game. Not always a world tourist destination, Cardiff will have been the place to be tonight, with parties surely lasting all night. Cardiff industry will probably take a hit tomorrow as well. The passion and the intensity was all on display as the two Welsh squads put off a good game on primetime English television. The final score might read, Cardiff City 1-0 Swansea, but they were not the only winners. Wales pulled off a strong victory today as well.