It’s almost impossible to choose just one Peter Whittingham moment. There’s just so many and I’m sure my colleagues will all have a moment that so many cherish.
For me, his performance against Middlesborough in the FA Cup in 2008 will long live in my memory. We’d been on a good run in the cup, but came up against Premier League opposition in Boro. It seemed like it would be a step too far.
Whitts ran the show that day. His free-kick set up Roger Johnson for his opener, before he used his sublime skill to create some space, before bending a beauty into the far corner. It took us to the semi-final of the FA Cup and set up another brilliant memory against Barnsley.
That game against Boro is a favourite of mine though, and along with the Leeds win, goes down as one of City’s greatest ever FA Cup matches. At the heart of it; Peter Whittingham, proving why he should’ve been playing at the top level.
Like Scott, I’ve found it really hard to pick one Peter Whittingham moment that stands out – because there are simply so many to choose from. His goal away at Boro in the FA Cup, a dazzling dance through four defenders. His performance against Wolves in the game before, where he scored and assisted. His tackle-cum-shot away at Reading where he scooped the ball away from Kebe and launched it into the top corner, all in one motion.
Was it any of his league goals that made your jaw drop? Barnsley perhaps? Or his cool penalty against Leicester in the semi-final play-off game? It could be any of those. But mine is a non-specific memory that really summed up his play.
It was a home game, I can’t even remember against who or what the score was. The opposition broke and were cantering over the halfway line against an outnumbered defence. Whittingham was the first midfielder to reach them, as he sprinted back. A rarity in itself! He then simply slid and chopped the attacker down.
There followed two shrugs. One to the referee as he dished out his yellow to Whitts and another to the attacker, who got into Whitts face. The shrug simply said – what did you want me to do? God, I miss him.
Back in 2012, when Cardiff were freshly rebranded, the club was heading into unchartered waters. They played Wolves in their first home game after the closing of a transfer window where they spent a shit-tonne of money. It was the sweetener in order to have Cardiff play in red and 10 new players arrived.
It was a spree that would almost guarantee promotion and against Wolves, Cardiff would put on a show, starring some of their shiny new recruits. But it was one of the old guard that stole the show. Despite all of their lavish buys, Peter Whittingham was still the star of the show.
He scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win, his second for the club. A perfect Whittingham hat-trick really; a penalty, a free kick and one from outside the box. Craig Noone won the penalty and Nicky Maynard won the free kick, as both made impressive debuts. Whittingham took home the match ball.
At a time when everything was new and strange, Whittingham was something familiar to cling on to. He was finally going to make his way to the top flight, and with Cardiff too, albeit in red. His time, and Cardiff’s, had finally come.
I have two stand-out memories of Peter Whittingham. Both are linked in a way to my favourite thing in this world; my family. The first happened nearly nine years ago today, on the 13th March 2011, when Cardiff City hosted Barnsley at home. For some reason, my father and I were sat in the Canton stand, near the corner with the Grandstand, and praise the Lord above that we were.
JET (what a player he wasn’t) picked up the ball near the edge of the area and calmly flicked it over the opposition player’s head, only to see Peter Whittingam calmly pluck the ball out the air, knock it up one more time and just as he was about to shoot, my dad said: “He’s not going to shoot from there is he?” He not only shot but scored what was to become the Mitre Goal of the Season. A beaut of a volley into the top corner, stunning it was. My father and I celebrated like madmen whilst laughing at its incredulity.
My second memory is linked to the first. I had won a competition online, of which the prize was a tour of the press box. Being sat with the Cardiff City commentary team (in those days the legendary Barrie McCauliffe and Richard Shephard) and being allowed to sit in the press room for the post-match pressers. It was a fantastic day for my son and although it was the first game we’d lost at home that season (this was December 2012), nothing could wipe the smile off our faces. Even Malky’s angry post-match answers to the journos.
After the press conference had ended, Barrie took us through to the media team office and as a final present, Peter Whittingham had kindly donated his official award from Mitre for the goal of the season to my son Josh. We were both absolutely blown away by this gesture and it still has pride of place in his bedroom. He will never be topped in my opinion. An all-time great.