Cardiff were perhaps a little unfortunate to be dragged back into the bottom three, but they aren’t in a terrible position. They’ve got a decent chance of staying up and frankly, they probably would have taken this at the start of the season. They were completely written off at the start of the season and if they can just about scrape it and stay up, it’ll be an unbelievable season. The likes of Fulham spent massively have gone down, so Cardiff are definitely punching above their weight.
With six games left, it’s now down to the home games. They’ve got some decent home form and they’ve got to keep that going. They are set up as a counter attacking team and they showed that against West Ham. At that point, West Ham were in decent form and I thought that win was an unbelievable result.
It’s going to come down to the games against teams around them. A few teams have been dragged into it, like Brighton. They’ve got some big games to play.
I’m actually going to be in Cardiff for the Palace game with my Junior football side. It’s our end of season night out, so we’re planning a few beers in Cardiff. I’m sure that’ll be a quiet one! It’s the first time I’ve been back for a while and that could be a big game.
I have spoken to Aron and wished him all the best. He’s getting on a bit, he’s been 30 years old for about 10 years now I think. He’s got one of them hooky Icelandic passports. It’s a move like that sets you up financially. He’s been at Cardiff for ages and been a brilliant servant for Cardiff.
It wasn’t an easy decision for him and I think going out there means he can look after himself a little bit more. He’s had his fair share of injuries and he always had a few things that bothered him a little bit. And I should know. I wrote the book on injuries. I played my final three years in Scotland and the game was slightly slower up there.
It was always my hip that gave me bother. I spent three years of my career taking anti-inflammatories the night before a game and the day after. It was actually the reason I stopped and it’s completely knackered. Joe Ledley and Mark Hudson had hip operations and I’m probably due a replacement now. It was only by accident that the hip issue was found. I had a groin issue, got that scanned and it revealed my hip problem. I should have done the operation at 26, but I just played on
A lot of the boys are in the same boat and some just deal with it better than others. It’s part and parcel of being a footballer and I’m still taking anti-flams now. The day after a game, I have to stay in bed. I’ve stopped playing Junior football because we aren’t in danger of getting relegated, so there was no pressure. I’m not sure if I’ll play again next season, but I’ve retired about four times already. I always take a couple weeks off, then get a call asking me to play and I can’t resist.
I know how Aron feels – it’s always the end of an era for a player who’s been around for a long time. I found it quite hard when I left Cardiff. It was a bit of an odd situation because I’d been at Bolton and I had broken my leg. I was going back to Cardiff to do a final check in with the club, clear out my stuff and say goodbye. It was quite an emotional day. I was sat in the changing room thinking that this is the last time I’ll be in here as a player.
I’d developed really good links with the club. Spent a lot of time with the Doctor (Len Noakes), so I knew him well and knew the staff really well. I had a really good bond with the fans and I’d made myself a home there. Nine years is a long time to spend at a club. You get really settled and find yourself very happy. I always love going back because the staff and everyone at the club are very friendly
There’s just some great characters in Cardiff. Rob Phillips actually text me the other day. He sent a photo of myself, Roger Johnson, Chops, McPhail when we signed and he asked me who the lad on the end was. It was Mark Howard, the young keeper we signed from Arsenal. I ended up playing with him at Bolton as well. Seems like I started a trend there..
It’s funny, I remember watching him for Scotland and saying he’s not a right back – but he’s class going forward. I actually spoke to Rob about it when he signed and I told him he’s probably not a full back as he was better going forward.
He’s just a nuisance. He causes panic, causes some bother and his height and presence is enough to ruffle some feathers. He really suits the way Cardiff plays as they are pretty direct and he fits the mould as he’s an aerial threat. He’s great at linking up play and winning headers. He’s just a great fit for Cardiff.
He’s been shifted around the pitch this season and that can impact your consistency. I did a similar thing when I was at Aberdeen. I basically played everywhere but up top. Right wing, left wing, you name it. I’d also man mark players too. We played Rangers and I was tasked with marking Mikel Arteta, so I just followed him for the whole match. I was sat in his pocket by the end of the game!
What I found most difficult about being shifted about was getting into the game. It can take a little time to find your feet when you get shifted from full back to central midfield. As a full back, everything happens in front of you while in central midfield, you’re smack in the thick of it.
But that’s not to say I didn’t love it. I actually played more games for Scotland in the centre of midfield than anywhere else. When I first got my call up, I was played in the centre of the park. I think it was Denmark and Nigeria. I then played full back against the Czech Republic a few days after our FA Cup Final. It’s fair to say we’d enjoyed ourselves a wee bit too much after that game
What I’m doing now
I’m just completing my B Licence at Dundee and I’ll be working on my A Licence pretty pronto. I’m back doing some coaching at my boyhood team, working with their under-17s. It’s just great to be back at the club again. It’s an odd age group, as the competition we are playing in is a three month run and we’ve got several boys from the age group below. I brought them through because we are having to let a few boys go, so it was a chance to give some of the younger lads a chance. We’ve got a decent chance in our competition to be fair, so the plan worked out well.
We’ve had some odd situations this year, though. We had a game postponed a few weeks back because of the wind! The keeper would kick it and the ball would end up going backwards, so we just decided to call the game off. That’s three days a week and I’m helping out a friend of mine at the Council too. We’re doing a few hours a week coaching for boys who are just leaving school.
I’m still doing my art too, but that’s taken a backseat while I try and get my foot in the door in football. It’s a little bit of who you know. I’ve not got the management experience, so I’m taking a similar approach to Bellers was at Cardiff. You start with the youth and work your way up. I’m just trying to learn as much as possible so I can progress.