DWYER THE LEGEND IS BACK TO RELIVE THE MEMORIES
CARDIFF legend Phil Dwyer says Tuesday’s celebrations brought back memories of his own glory days with the Bluebirds.
Local boy Dwyer, 59, spent his entire career with Cardiff, making a club record 573 appearances between 1971 and 1985.
Renowned for his no-nonsense attitude and brutal tackling, Dwyer remains a regular at matches and was in the stands as Malky Mackay’s men finally returned to the top flight after 51 years away.
“It was wonderful,” says Dwyer, who retired in 1985 to join the police force.“And seeing all those supporters on the pitch brought back great memories.
“We won promotion from the third division, away at Bury in 1983.When it happened to us, there were so many people that I had to crawl off the pitch on my hands and knees.We’ve always had great support, home and away.
“When you get promoted, the dressing room is a special place. Everybody’s talking, everyone’s excited.There’s loads of beer about. I think I was drunk before I got out of the bath when we went up!
“It’s great for the players, but it’s for the supporters really.They are the ones who pay the players’ wages and it’s great to see them get rewarded.
“I still see people who used to go through the gate when I played.They must’ve been there for the last 25 years so for them to get a top division club is tremendous.”
Nor was Dwyer the only former star in the stands – as he himself discovered.“I was sat next to a guy and I was thinking:‘I’m sure I know you’,” he says.
“It turned out it was Ray Bishop, an old team-mate of mine. I hadn’t seen him for about 15 years.
“Unbeknownst to me, he’d actually left a message on my phone saying:‘I’m going to the game, if you’re there then let’s meet up’. I only found it that night.
“But as luck would have it, he sat right next to me. He travelled all the way from Torquay to see us go up and it was great after the game to be able to shake hands with people like him.”
Cardiff’s success has not been without controversy. Owner Vincent Tan forced the club to change their shirt from the traditional blue to red – a lucky colour in his native Malaysia and a move to boost shirt sales – in exchange for investment.
The badge has also been redesigned and there has even been talk of a name change to Cardiff Dragons.This has upset many fans, but Dwyer isn’t complaining.
“People talk about changing the shirts and things like that but you have to move with the times,” he said.“Football is big business now and if you want to go up to the Premiership and mix with the big boys, you need to have money behind you. People moaned about the stadium at first, but without it they probably wouldn’t be here today.”