Alfie’s mum was called into school today and his Nana Jean who normally looks after him on a Wednesday is poorly, so The Adventures with Alfie Team was called into action. The request for childcare came with an odd request from Alfie’s dad. I was asked if I could take Alfie to the Cardiff City Training Complex at the Vale Hotel in The Vale of Glamorgan to collect some Cardiff City autographs. He provided me with a kid’s size shirt in red and a picture, which looked like a pull-out from a cheap magazine, of Malky’s Maestros.
It was a challenge, but life is all about challenges and tackling them as best as one can.
I had no fears. I have been collecting football autographs since Adam was a boy. I had thousands of City autographs from when City were a great team in the Cardiff City 1 v 0 Real Madrid days. I have also spent hours outside Old Trafford with my boy (age 34) trying for a Ryan Giggs or Wayne Rooney!
Alfie was dropped off just after eight in his pyjamas – seemed like I had to do the full works. I coped well and at 9.30 a.m. we were fit and ready to go.
It was a beautiful day and the drive up to the Vale hotel via the Ely Link Road and the M4 was pleasant. When we arrived I didn’t have a clue where to go so I pulled into the cark park next to the building with a massive Cardiff City badge on it… seemed a good bet this was it.
The BMWs and the Audis and the Porches next to my aging Ford Focus gave me that idea I was in the right place.
We got out and strolled around. There was this guy with a strong valleys accent holding a red football shirt. I guess he was doing the same thing. We chatted and before long the team started to come out and jog to the training pitch. I got as many autographs as I could and a few pictures too.
I would like to have made them stand in a line so I could get them all, but this was not possible. I had a few funny looks from some of the players – an old geeky looking guy with a kid in a pushchair asking for autographs and photographs, but I must say most were really pleasant, especially Alfie’s favourite player, the home grown star Craig Bellamy, who lifted Alfie out of the pushchair for a ‘proper photo’.
Once all the players had passed by I had one more to get and when I asked this guy wearing a ‘City’ top he laughed and told me he was just cutting the grass in the hotel… silly me. I still don’t recognise all the modern players but ask me about the proper City team with Bob Wilson, Gary Bell, Dave Carver, Ronnie Bird, Mel Sutton, Alan Warboys etc. and I would never have made that mistake!
My valleys butty and I then strolled down to watch them train. It was a warm spring day and we had a good time. For a while we watched the team being put through their paces.
Malky the manager drove up and started talking to a few odd bods before being interviewed by some newsy looking chaps. Then he strolled up and started talking to us. He signed Alfie’s shirt and picture before jetting off to plot the downfall of next year’s premier league teams. I thanked him for getting into the Premier League. I started watching City in the early sixties, just after they had been relegated from the old Division One. It’s been a long wait – about fifty years – so the handshake I gave him was well deserved.
As training drew to a close I managed to get a few more autographs before returning Alfie to our home and a fun filled afternoon with Aunt Bes.I hope Alfie’s dad is pleased with us.
Dedicated to Sam Hully…my old pupil and friend….