Last week while in London I met an old friend in football who happens to be from Wales. And while we were having our coffee he told me about the upcoming south Wales derby in the English Championship and how high expectations were in Wales from these two teams to fulfill the dreams of the Welsh to have a team amongst the best in the English Premier League. After hearing about it, I got a little curious so started reading about it to find out more.
Yesterday then finally saw the Battle of Wales in the English Championship, the second tier of English football, being played out by league leaders Cardiff City FC and third placed Swansea City AFC. The south Wales derby saw Swansea beat their famed rivals by a goal to nil at the Cardiff City Stadium which saw its highest ever club attendence at 26,049, just short of the stadium capacity at 26,828. This meant Ccardiff City are now second behind Queens Park Rangers and Swansea a close third.
Some will now ask why do Welsh clubs play in the English league system? Simply put clubs like Cardiff City and Swansea have been part of the Football League since they were founded. And as you would think the competition in the English leagues is much higher then in the League of Wales, which at best can be called semi-professional.
Surely football isn't the number one sports in Wales, which happens to be rugby; but at club level it is the biggest sport with clubs like Cardiff City, Swansea and Wrexham. And especially with Cardiff City and Swansea both pushing for Premier League promotion people are hopeful their football will improve.
One Welsh player who will be known around the world after his exploits for Tottenham Hotspurs against Internationale Milan over the last few weeks in the UEFA Champions League is 21 year old Gareth Bale, who originally is from Cardiff. But Wales have no real chance in their group to qualify for Euro2012.
The hope is that either Cardiff City or Swansea make it to the Premier League or ideally both to give Welsh football a push in the right direction. Welsh star Craig Bellamy returned to Cardiff City on loan from Manchester City FC to help in their ambition to make it to the Premiership after the club has failed to get into the top tier for the last six, seven years. Last season they failed against Blackpool.
The hope is also if these clubs make it into the Premier League then Welsh players have a chance to play at home or closer to home, which could help both the concerned club and the national team, which has had outstanding players like Ryan Giggs, but not a quality team overall which could get into European Championships or World Cup's.
The dream lives on and the hope that at least one of these two clubs get back into the Premier League.