Cardiff City, but not as we know it
How was it for you?
I have to admit, I struggled, it all left me feeling a bit numb. After so much disruption off the pitch during the summer, I was keen to focus on events taking place on the pitch, in the hope that it would provide a welcome distraction. If anything, the reality and gravity of the situation really hit home for the first time. It's red from here on in and it just doesn't feel like Cardiff City anymore.
I'm well aware that Cardiff have got it pretty good in many respects compared to a lot of other clubs, I also understand that such strong feelings based on the colour of a kit is completely irrational, but it still hurts. Maybe it will get easier over time, maybe it won't. The first game was always going to be difficult and having given the Newcastle friendly a miss, to postpone the inevitable, this was my red induction.
I'm not sure whether the atmosphere fed in to the game or vice versa, but it was all very flat, especially for the first game of the season with a host of new players on show. Singing and chanting was scarce, particularly in the first half, as fans appeared to chatter amongst themselves while a football match played out in the background.
Things picked up in the second half thanks to an array of dubious refereeing decisions and of course the late winner was enthusiastically received. But it's not the same, enthusiasm is muted, an undercurrent of apathy exists, we're going through the motions.
Of course for some, it's business as usual. There are plenty of fans that have embraced the changes, got on board and bought the shirt, but there are just as many bemused fans, going out of their way to wear blue, in denial. The divide is heartbreaking and all so unnecessary.
It's hard not to feel envious of fans of other clubs, united and excited about a new campaign offering endless possibilities. I also feel a bit jealous of fans that are getting on with it because it's not a nice feeling to be ashamed of your hometown club.
Maybe away games are the way to go in future, amongst the hardcore fans who will continue to fight the fight, supporting a Cardiff side resplendent in blue. I remain optimistic that common sense will prevail and a return to blue will materialise eventually, but it's a cause that requires a saviour. If Sam Hammam wanted to make a gesture that would repair his reputation amongst Cardiff fans, he could always insert some sort of 'return to blue' clause in his Langston settlement. Sam, if you're listening...
Cardiff's prospects on the field are considerable, this could actually be their year. Yet in the stands, there is real cause for concern and issues that need addressing urgently. In George A. Romero's 'Dawn of the Dead', the zombies head towards a shopping centre simply because it is what they used to do. My great fear is that for some, myself included, supporting Cardiff City will also become something we do out of habit, with emotion largely absent.