Bellamy belter seals a perfect homecoming

Cardiff City 4 Doncaster Rovers 0

Very rarely the substance lives up to hype, and here in the Welsh capital yesterday Craig Bellamy fully justified the billing of the superstar hero at last coming home.

With one superlative swing of his right boot, the Cardiffian proved that while you can take the boy out of the Premier League you can't take the Premier League out of the boy.

The chances of anybody at Manchester City tuning into this Championship encounter would have been on the negligible side of zero. Which is a shame, if only because they did not get to see the contribution of the man whose £90,000-a-week wages they are supposedly subsidising to the tune of £65,000.

Purely on this evidence, the Bluebirds have made one hell of a deal, both from a footballing and business standpoint. After yesterday's fairytale finish it is hard to imagine that Cardiff's next home match won't be a sell-out as well. The bloke with 39 on his back was truly that good – and truly that touched as well.

"This was probably the most emotional week I've had in football," Bellamy said afterwards. "The tension hit me on Thursday – I felt it like you didn't believe.

"The manager saw it and told me to relax, told me I didn't need to score a hat-trick. All that experience counted for nothing today. I was more worried about this match than any before. It was made for Doncaster to come and upset the party."

Instead, it was Bellamy who popped the corks. With six minutes left, he stepped up and unleashed a 35-yard free-kick into the net. It was right on target and right on cue.

"To finish it off like that, I can't explain," he said. "It really is hard to describe that free-kick and what it meant. I've grown up here. My house is here. My family is here."

And so too, is a city full of Bellamy worshippers. Dave Jones, the Cardiff manager, tried manfully to deflect some of the attention towards the other players who were more influential in this victory. "We didn't want it to be the Lord Mayor's Show," said Jones, who confessed to calling over Bellamy for at least one "kick up the arse".

And he was right, the man of the moment probably wasn't the man of the match. Chris Burke, on the other flank, nudged that award. Before he came on for Michael Chopra in the 32nd minute, Doncaster had actually enjoyed the best chances. Four minutes later, Jay Bothroyd scored his first of two and the script they all wanted was in the writing.

Bellamy had a hand in that deadlock-breaker, after a neat one-two with Seyi Olofinjana. But it owed more to Wayne Thomas's mistake. In that moment, Bellamy's own errors in the opening minutes were forgotten. He had arrived at the ground at 12pm to beat the crowds and the three-hour countdown seemed to affect him as passes went astray and at least one chance went begging.

But the more the game progressed the more he found his feet and the more the nerves left him. And when Bothroyd headed in his second in the 62nd minute, after a quite perfect Burke cross, the stage was set. First Bellamy delivered a 70-yard pass – that he confessed to being speculative – which dropped at the feet of Burke to clinically convert. Then, after the inevitable booking, came the grandstand moment and soon after Jones took him off to "ensure he got the applause he deserved". "I'm just amazed Man City have got 25 better than him," said the Doncaster manager, Sean O'Driscoll.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
Researchers have said it could take only two questions to identify a problem with alcohol
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style