foot­ball firsts

Cardiff City mid­fielder Joe Ralls talks us through his foot­ball mem­o­ries

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO RESULTS -

First game you watched live? My dad and fam­ily were all Manch­ester United fans, and the first one I went to was their FA Cup semi-fi­nal against Wat­ford at Villa Park in 2007. I’d watched a bit of my lo­cal side, Alder­shot, but this was the first one I could prop­erly re­mem­ber with my dad, Gary. That was when the FA Cup semi-fi­nals were on neu­tral grounds and the at­mos­phere was buzzing, a lot more com­pared to now. First foot­ball hero? As a cen­tral mid­fielder, Paul Sc­holes was al­ways the man for me grow­ing up. You look at the top mid­field­ers, and the way he played was just full of qual­ity. He al­ways wanted to get on the ball and the game went through him. It’s some­thing I tried to repli­cate when I was younger, and I think all mid­field­ers are the same. You want to be on the ball as of­ten as pos­si­ble. First foot­ball boots? I can’t re­mem­ber the ex­act pair, but I used to wear Preda­tors and they were the ones I first re­call. They were great. They had an elas­tic tongue and the black, red and white ones were a nice colour com­bi­na­tion. I’d still wear them now if I could get away with it! First foot­ball kit? I played with Alder­shot when I was younger, so I had a lot of kit from them, but the first ma­jor one was again Manch­ester United. They had some sav­age kits back then, some re­ally hor­rific ones, and there are some pic­tures of me in one of their shock­ing green tops! First pro­fes­sional game? You never for­get your first game. Malky (Mackay) had just come in at Cardiff, and he got a few of the young lads in­volved in a League Cup game away at Ox­ford. We’d only trained with the first team the day be­fore, and I came on, with squad No.52 and played the last quar­ter – as well as ex­tra time – in a game we even­tu­ally won. That was a spring­board for me. First pro­fes­sional goal? I scored in my first league game, Hull away in 2011, and I’d just signed a pro­fes­sional con­tract the day be­fore, so I was buzzing. Kenny Miller got in­jured in the open­ing ten min­utes so I came off the bench early on and scored what’s prob­a­bly the best goal of my ca­reer so far. The ball came for­ward from David Mar­shall, our keeper, and it dropped nicely about 30 yards out. I hit it with in­stinct and it flew in. Sometimes those are the best ones, where you don’t have time to think and you just do it. First red card? My first red card didn’t come for a cou­ple of years, but in some ways it was worth the wait. We were away at Read­ing, go­ing along nicely 1-0 up un­til de­fender By­ron Web­ster got sent off. That forced us into a reshuf­fle, and I had to go from cen­tre mid­field into left­back, which re­ally

didn’t suit me! I got skinned a cou­ple of times, then de­cided to nail the guy. I was a lit­tle bit late and got a straight red for it. That was the sec­ond red card out of three we had in the game, and we still man­aged to get a point away from home!

HERO: Manch­ester United’s Paul Sc­holes

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