Here are your Cardiff City headlines for Wednesday, March 23.
Denham ready for when first-team chance comes
Oliver Denham has revealed his frustration over the injury-hit end to his time at Manchester United but is positive about what the future holds for him at Cardiff City.
Denham was signed from United in the summer of 2020 after a positive loan spell with the Bluebirds, with Steve Morison at that time in charge of the under-23s. And while his time in Manchester could have gone more smoothly, Denham, who was speaking to his agency OmniSports ‘ website, said he had to pick himself up quickly following the minor setback.
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“It is a great club to be a part of,” he said of the Old Trafford club. “We were very lucky to have use of the facilities that they can offer.
“My final two years there weren’t great for me because I missed a lot of time through injury. That is football, though, so you just have to take it on the chin and just get on with it. I was hoping to move on as quickly as possible, and, fortunately for me, Cardiff showed an interest very quickly.”
Speaking of his move to Cardiff, he added: “They got in contact with me and told me that they wanted to invite me to a trial, to see how I got on. I ended up going to Wales, probably a month or so after everything had started to return football-wise, and I played a few games there.
“They showed an interest in me, and I liked the way things were going down there and the opportunity that it offered, so I decided that it was the right fit. It was certainly very daunting moving four hours away from home to live in a new city, and that could have caused problems, but I have been lucky and got to know a lot of people very quickly, so they have helped me settle.
“From the staff to the other young players who were already here, to the more experienced professionals, everybody has been brilliant, and it has helped me settle really well. I now know that I made the right decision, because everyone has been so welcoming and great for me personally.”
Having stepped up from the under-23s to the first team, announcing himself in the FA Cup glamour tie with Liverpool, Denham has also penned a new deal with the club. And the 19-year-old defender revealed that transition from the youth team to the first team has been easier for him due to his relationship with Morison and Tom Ramasut and he believes he is now ready for senior action if called upon.
“Steve was the Under-23s’ manager when I first arrived here, so I was able to build a relationship with him from then and it has grown and got much stronger,” he added.
“When he then made that step up to become the first-team manager, that gave me a bit of confidence that he would give some opportunities to younger players from the academy, because he knew us well and knew what he could expect of us.
“A strong relationship with a manager can have a huge impact on a player, because if you know he has trust in you, then you have that added confidence and it helps you to perform.
“[Being involved in the first team is] completely different, everything from preparing for the actual week to the recovery. I feel like it has made me more prepared so if, and when, the time does come, I’ll be focussed and ready.”
Bothroyd: The hardest player I played with and dastardly Swans tactics
Former Bluebirds striker Jay Bothroyd has stoked the flames ahead of the South Wales derby, claiming that Swansea City fans tried some underhand tactics to unsettle Cardiff’s players during his time with the club.
Speaking on Ultimate Champions, ex-England striker Bothroyd said: “Swansea, that was an amazing game. That goes under the radar, that derby. We would go and stay in Swansea and fans would set fire alarms off in the hotel so we wouldn’t get any sleep and we would come out in our dressing gowns and stuff!
“That was how it was. We played there and I remember it is so daunting to go there, but as a player you have to embrace that pressure. But one tackle and the fans are up, shouting, screaming, managers are arguing. That’s what you get in the Championship.
“I didn’t score against Swansea, but Craig Bellamy scored right at the end and we won and it was like amazing. We were all celebrating at the end, even when you get on the coach their fans are all giving you abuse and you are just sticking your fingers up and enticing them!”
Quite why Cardiff were staying in Swansea, just 30 minutes down the road, is anyone’s guess. But who would quibble with such a story?!
Reflecting further on his time at Cardiff, Bothroyd was asked who his favourite strike partner was. As you can imagine, the answer was pretty obvious. “I had Michael Chopra and Ross McCormack. Ross McCormack was quality. He could dribble, shoot with both feet, take free-kicks. The technique, he was strong,” he said.
“Chops was just a predator. Any loose ball, any flick-on was in his path and he was a good finisher. I would go with Chops (as my best strike partner), because that season we did really well, he scored a lot of goals. The relationship we had on the pitch was like a sixth sense.”
When asked who the “hardest player” he had played with was, Bothroyd said: “Darren Purse. He had the biggest calves in the world. He was always wearing long studs. In training he used to smash me all the time.
“He was one of those players who used to set the tone every game. A proper leader. In training, it would be train as you play, he always did that. As a forward you don’t want to get smashed on a Friday before a game, but he said he was getting me ready for the game!”
Match in memory of Barks
A match in memory of former Cardiff City defender Chris Barker take place at Roots Hall, the home of Southend United, on Saturday, May 28.
The fixture will see a squad of Barker’s ex-Southend team-mates take on another team comprising his former colleagues from other clubs.
Proceeds from the match, which costs £5 for adults and £1 for under-16s, will go to South East and Central Essex Mind, a charity which supports anyone struggling with mental health.
Barker, who won the club’s 2005 Player of the Year award, was found dead at the age of just 39 on January 1, 2020. A coroner’s inquest found that he had taken his own life after being “affected greatly” by the death of his father, who had motor neurone disease, and his mother, who died of cancer.
Barker turned out 162 times for the Bluebirds, helping the club to promotion to Division One in 2003, between 2002 and 2007. He also played for Barnsley, QPR, Plymouth Argyle, Southend and other clubs before retiring from the game in 2017.