Cardiff City and Swansea City may have a historic rivalry but can they overcome their differences to continue Welsh footballs resurgence?
Once the fans had been cleared from the pitch celebrations erupted all over the Welsh capital as Cardiff City secured promotion to the Premier League following a 0-0 draw with Charlton, attention turned to the prospect of having two Welsh clubs at the top of English football.
The first thing that many pundits and newspapers highlighted was that the South Wales derby would return for the first time since 2011, and for the first time in the history of Cardiff City and Swansea City in the top division.
In the past the fixture has provided brilliant games in which the passion and rivalry between the two cities has been funnelled into the match day squad who realise the importance of bragging rights to their fans
However, it has also been blighted by violence from the very same fans that see the game as something more deserving of vile chanting, destruction and attacks on match officials and stewards.
In 2009, a game between Cardiff and Swansea at the old Ninian Park ground, which was televised live all over the world, resulted in a 2-2 draw in which match referee Mike Dean was struck on the head with a £1 coin by a Cardiff City fan.
Violence is not just contained within the derby and both clubs have had to hand out considerable banning orders to supporters in order to create the family atmosphere’s they both now enjoy.
One of the hopes of having the two South Wales clubs in the Premier League is that the violence will be put to one side as both teams try to forge successful paths next season and continue their fantastic progress.
This season Swansea were victorious in the Capital One Cup and has secured Europa League football in 2013/2014, winning many plaudits during their two campaigns in the Premier League due to their aesthetically pleasing tactics and talented managers, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup.
Trying to combine a long European campaign while remaining in the league will be their priority in the year ahead and the Swans will want to put fan violence behind them and remain focused.
Cardiff City on the other hand will want to make the most of their stay in the Premier League and put together a squad that will compete with the division’s top teams.
Malky Mackay has gone some way to alleviate Cardiff’s calamitous tag of failing in play-offs and cup finals by returning them to the top flight of English football for the first time since 1962. The Scotsman has kept a tight squad together while managing to rotate throughout the season, bringing through young talent.
The club’s Malaysian chairman Vincent Tan has pumped huge amounts of cash into the Bluebirds and has promised more as he tries to establish the capital’s club as a Premier League staple and will not want fan violence to detract from any success on the pitch or damage the new image he is trying to create.
Cardiff and Swansea have a lot more to compete for than at any other time in their respective histories, hopefully solidifying their Premier League positions and in future contributing to a currently ailing national team.
Hopes for next season are that the real fight will occur when the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham turn up, rather than in the stands when rival fans arrive.
image: © joncandy