BLUEBIRDS’ HEROES MAKE TRUST PARTY HUGE SUCCESS

BBC Wales' soccer commentator Rob Phillips asks the questions of the City legends at the Trust party

Bobby Woodruff, Don Murray, Steve Derrett, Leighton Phillips and Gary Bell at Trust tribute to the City legends that defeated Real Madrid in 1971

LEGENDS from the City team which beat Real Madrid 1-0  40 years ago were guests of honour at the Trust’s end-of-season party.

Don Murray, Gary Bell, Bobby Woodruff and Leighton Phillips who took on the mighty Spaniards  were joined by Steve Derrett at the Duke of Clarence in Canton, Cardiff.

After an entertaining quiz run by Trust chair Tim Hartley and wife Helen Lucitt and a curry, it was down to the real business of the night.

BBC Wales’ Rob Phillips, a great supporter of the Trust, chatted to the ex-City stars about the Madrid match and their reflections as footballers in the 1970s, and they had plenty to say.

Leighton Phillips, who hails from Briton Ferry, said that news of the draw which pitted City against Real Madrid had been a dream come true for the players. “I was fortunate to be in a very good side. No one gave us a chance – it was a fabulous night.

Gary Bell felt City should have beaten Madrid by more than the one goal. “We could have had three or four on the night. We created enough chances. Madrid players just trooped off at the final whistle without acknowledging us.”

While Bobby Woodruff stressed that team spirit, its balance and their closeness as a unit as the reason for their success in an era which saw City narrowly miss promotion to the old First Division.

They all spoke fondly of the late Brian Clark, who scored the winning goal at Ninian Park. He was described as a real gent and Don Murray felt Clark was the best signing Jimmy Scoular made as manager. “Tosh (John Toshack) would turn around and say that Brian was the reason he was so successful.”

Gary Bell said that Jimmy Scoular ran the club in much the way Alex Ferguson now does at Manchester United. “Jimmy would organise everything from the transport to away games, the hotel. He was the No 1 man.”

Steve Derrett regretted that today’s players no longer mix with fans as they did back in the 1970s. “Back then it was a lot more fun.”

Don Murray recalled that in 1962-3 he earned the princely sum of £10 10s (old money)  when he made his debut at Middlesborough. This rose to £21 the following week. “I thought I’d won the Pools. Money was not that important then – playing for Cardiff City was a huge honour.” Players’ wages were topped up with £2 for a win and a £1 for a draw – a far cry from the thousands of pounds a week earned by today’s stars.

Leighton Phillips said that while he had earned good wages during his career he described the amount of money paid today as “out of proportion”, describing it as “like Monopoly money”. “We never thought about money.” But he felt the 1970s players would have more than held their own in today’s world if they had been around.

Tough-tackling defender Don Murray made it clear he was not a fan of players who go to ground easily. “I can’t bear the cheating; one touch and they go down.” Talking about the sale of Toshack to Liverpool, Don lamented that the club still couldn’t seem to hang onto its young talent.

Gary Bell, known for his skilled slide tackling, was asked whether the team of the 1970s would have handled the changes in tackling. “I believe the art of tackling has been taken away but we would all have adapted to it.”

Asked who they’d like to be the next City manager Steve Derrett said he favoured Neil Warnock – if he was available – because of his record in getting teams promoted. Leighton Phillips also picked out Warnock and Roberto Di Matteo while West Bromwich Albion fan Gary Bell backed the club’s former manager Di Matteo and Chris Hughton. Don Murray suggested Chris Hughton and hinted, perhaps, John Toshack might be a late bid. Bobby Woodruff said that the quality of the players was most important factor.

At the end of the evening the guests were given a standing ovation and presented with ties (donated by Cardiff City Football Club) and made honorary members of the Trust while their wives received boxes of chocolates.

A raffle in aid of the Fred Keenor Statue Appeal raised £300 and whip-round from regulars at the Duke of Clarence brought in another fantastic £200.

What a great evening and thanks to everyone that made the event a great success. You can join the Trust through this website for just £12 a year with free membership for the under-16s.