Red brigade in no mood for unruly Bluebird
Awash in Liverpool livery, Foleys was no place to be for a wiry Welsh Cardiff blue
Cardiff City fans show their support during the Premier League match against Stoke City at Cardiff City Stadium. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images
The first crimson wave of Liverpool supporters surged through the portholes of Foley’s public house on the Clontarf Road over an hour before kick-off at Anfield.
Mostly middle-aged, nearly all male, they were instantly identifiable to Vinny Fitzpatrick by their replica red jerseys, many of which were emblazoned with sponsors associated with the club’s golden age. From his customary pitch by the bar, Vinny noted the retro strips with such familiar names as Crown Paints, Candy and Carlsberg.
Alas, no one had the original of the shirt sponsor species, Hitachi. “A collector’s item,” he mused before returning to his paper for a considered study of the football tables and race cards.
It was Sunday lunchtime and Foley’s was crammed with Liverpool fans, many of whom had been lured, not so much by the Chelsea game live on Sky Sports, but by the €3 a pint promotion for anyone wearing a Liverpool jersey.
As the red tide swirled into every nook and cranny of the watering hole, among them a single blue jersey stood out in defiance, and not a Chelsea one at that, rather Cardiff City.
It belonged to a regular Sunday sipper, Taff, whose allegiance to Cardiff City is inestimable. A recently retired stevedore in his late 50s, Taff was a 5ft baldy, skinny as a rake and as argumentative as a viper. No one knew his real name but it didn’t matter. He was from Wales, so he was Taff.
Blue is the colour
On this Sunday, Taff was at his usual place, close by the telly near the men’s toilets, following the fortunes of his beloved team. He was usually left well alone, and for fair reason, but today the die-hard dynamo found himself enveloped by fans in red – a colour despised by Cardiff City fans.
Taff wriggled uncomfortably as he became imprisoned by Liverpool heads, many of them pot-bellied. At one point, a burly interloper was obstructing his view of the goggle box. “Move lard ass or I’ll bite your bloody head off,” snarled Taff.
As Cardiff were being submerged by a catalogue of Sunderland goals, Taff could have been excused for taking his leave but he stayed stubbornly on the burning bridge. Every two minutes or so, he’d roar out “Bluebirds!” much to the annoyance of the grazing Liverpool wildebeests.
At the final whistle, as Cardiff were crushed 4-0, a defiant Taff repeatedly punched his club crest while mouthing off “Bluebirds! Bluebirds! Bluebirds!”
He was soon drowned out by the Liverpool legions, which included Fran and Macker who were on their feet blasting out a glassy-eyed rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone .
It was all too much for Taff. Before stomping out the back for a fag, the wiry Welsh man placed a beer mat on his pint of ale and made it quite clear no one was to touch either it, or his stool. No one did.
For the first 44 minutes or so, the Liverpool legions oohed and aahed as their title seekers pushed Chelsea on to the back foot. They were sure a goal was coming. It was, but for the other side.