It’s described as one of the fiercest rivalries in British football, but now that Cardiff City have been promoted, will the South Wales derby continue into the Premier League.
The first match between the Bluebirds and the Jacks took place on the 7th of September 1912 at Swansea’s Vetch Field (which has since been demolished). From there both clubs rose to the National Football League and met frequently as the 2 best Welsh teams, but in the last few decades both clubs have been plagued by football hooliganism and matches have therefore been marred by violence between the rival supporters.
One such incident occurred in September 1998, after Cardiff defeated Swansea, a group of Cardiff fans were chased into the sea by some rival Swansea supporters, since then Swansea fans, mockingly suggest to their Cardiff rivals that they should ‘swim away’ in reference to the event.
A more serious incident, however, which took place on the 23rd December 1993, shocked the nation. The match was dubbed ‘The Battle of Ninian Park’, as Swansea fans were seated in the grandstand for the game. Some of the Swans fans began ripping out seats and throwing them at Cardiff supporters when Cardiff took the lead 1-0. This resulted in home fans invading the pitch. The shocking pictures of violence in the news the following day forced the FAW to ban away fans from games between the two sides for many years, making it the first fixture in Britain to do so.
Nowadays, higher levels of policing are seen when the two sides meet, and as a result hooligan violence has decreased, yet matches do still see trouble. In 2006 there was a heavy police presence when Swansea travelled to Cardiff when they played at the Millennium Stadium in the Football League Trophy Final.
After Swansea fell on hard times and nearly dropped out of the Football League and Cardiff City moved up the leagues, games between the two sides became less frequent, with the first derby in just under a decade happening on the 23rd September 2006 where Swansea won 1-0.
Games between has seen many arrests being made by police. In 2009 at Ninian Park more than 5 arrests were made after a referee was hit by a coin thrown from the Cardiff crowd, as well as Cardiff fans clashing with police after the match. 15 arrests were also made during the first derby of the 2009-10 season on November 7th 2009, after Swansea fans waited for Cardiff fans to depart outside of the grounds.
The promotion of Swansea City into the Premier League means there have been no local derbies in recent years, but now the promotion of Cardiff City will see the first South Wales derby in 2 years during the 20013-14 season.
Both clubs and Supporters Associations have warned their fans to leave the violence in the past, but how effective will the message be, when even the players are starting foul-mouthed chants? In May, Cardiff captain Mark Hudson led the chant “You Jack b*******, we’re coming for you” in front of 10, 000 Bluebirds. To which Swansea captain Garry Monk responded with “What am I seeing and hearing?? So scared. Let’s get it on!!!” via Twitter.
There’s no way to tell if the hostile rivalry will continue or if a more lighthearted banter will replace it, we can only watch on and hope for the best. But for now… let the battle commence!