Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hammam's Legacy

If you have a browse around the net, it will seem that I am a lone voice in my cynical assessment of Sam Hammam's tenure at Cardiff City. I feel like a salmon swimming upstream, such is the outpouring of gratitude and even grief in some quarters.

Even my attitude has softened. Take away the personality clash, the embarrassing proclamations, and the crass behaviour, and Sam's legacy is on the face of it, pretty impressive.

He has proved me wrong over past few years on several occasions. I thought he would walk away as soon as things got tough. I was sure that "Black Friday" was the end of him, but through sheer persuasiveness and hand pressing, he won the fans back. He has stopped his on the pitch shenanagins, has seemingly brought in serious investment and maybe history will prove me wrong again.

It appears that he took a struggling 4th Division club, and through a mixture of connections, chutzpah and bravado, has put the club in a position where it is on the verge of its biggest success for half a century.

So what is the problem ? Firstly, I am irritated that all of the club's recent success is attributed to the Chairman. There have been significant contributions from a number of people, who have then been discarded, and their reputations tarnished unnecessarily. I am thinking of David Temme primarily, who has received little recognition for his part in the stadium development, which was in place for some time before Sam arrived.

There are other dissenting voices, but as the editors of "The Thin Blue Line" will tell you, it isn't easy to criticise, or even question the regime at Ninian Park.

One man who is yet to be convinced that all is as rosy as it seems is Leighton Andrews AM, who raises important financial questions in his blog.

I am now playing a waiting game. I am prepared to admit that I might be wrong about all this. In ten years time, history might prove that I am just a bitter ex-employee, disgruntled at perceived unfair treatment. Cardiff could be playing in "The Sam Hammam Stadium", and there might be a statue in the forecourt of the man who saved the club.

But you know, when Leeds United played in the Semi Final of the Champions League, and Ridsdale was spending the money, as the fans were demanding, nobody wanted to consider the implications of the gamble. In hindsight, Leeds fans now revile a man they once adored, in the same way that City fans love Hammam. Ironically, Ridsdale is the man now in charge of another club building up huge debts which are apparently going to be wiped clean when they win the League.

A coincidence ? Let's wait and see.

No comments: