There will probably not be a Welshman in their ranks when they step on to that Wembley turf on Sunday and when the anthem blares out it will be less "Land of my Fathers" and more "Land of my Professional Contract". But still, the Cardiff City players were happy to go along with the daffodil-adorned hyping yesterday of a weekend of opportunity which has inevitably been billed "The Triple Crown".
In truth, Mark Hudson, the Bluebirds captain, would have been a brave/foolish man not to agree to the photoshoot outside the Vale of Glamorgan hotel. To his immediate right was Nathan Cleverly, the WBO world light-heavyweight champion who defends his title in the capital tomorrow night, and further right was Sam Warburton, who will lead the country against England at Twickenham earlier that evening – maybe not the best duo to snub.
Not that Hudson would have been minded to anyway. The atmosphere has been building in Cardiff this past week and it has been impossible for even a 29-year-old born and raised in Guildford to resist. "I was speaking to Nathan and Sam and we were all saying that this could be a great, great weekend for Wales," said Hudson. "We will be watching both of them. If they can get two wins it will drive us on for the final."
The possibilities are euphoric, but are not considered probable. In fact, Ladbrokes go 15-1 the treble of Wales winning, Cleverly stopping Tommy Karpency and Cardiff finally following up their 1927 FA Cup glory. Seeing as the first two scenarios are rated odds-on chances, it is blindingly, if not insultingly, obvious what the bookmakers do not expect to occur. But then, if Cardiff are to beat Liverpool they don't need only to overcome the odds, but also history. In the Premier League era, no club from outside the elite division has won one of the major trophies.
Cardiff are riding high in fifth in the Championship but with three defeats in the last four games. Surely they will fold on Sunday? Well, that certainly wasn't their own view yesterday. For starters, they point out they have been to the new Wembley three times versus Liverpool's nought. And then there is the attitude of manager Malky Mackay.
The Scot is taking his players to experience Wembley today and tomorrow – as he puts it, "to get them over their wow factor". Then he intends to take them back on Sunday with ambition, and not wonder, burning in their eyes.
"We won't be there as tourists, we'll be going there to win, believing we can win," said Mackay, who celebrated his 40th birthday last Sunday and whose contract was extended by three and a half years on Wednesday. "Our fans have been to Wembley three times in the last four years so have done all that 'great day out' stuff. There'll be 35,000 of them in the stadium officially and I'm sure 10,000 will find their way in by other means. Why not? Last year it was Birmingham against Arsenal and nobody gave them a prayer either." When Mackay joined in the summer he found a likeminded crowd in his home from home. "People ask me what the Welsh are like and I always tell them they are very like the Scots – passionate and drunk. Outsiders think Cardiff's all about rugby, but you get here, talk to the people and feel the passion for the Bluebirds. We want to be a Premier League club. This is a capital city."Reuse content