The referee looked at his watch and put his whistle to his lips, peep, peep, peep. Those in the black and amber threw their arms in the air. Their bodies ached, their noses bled but the pain would be eased by lifting the trophy. Now, despite their bumps and bruises they could and would celebrate long into the night. Meanwhile, those in blue and black crumpled to their knees, breathless and knackered, the pains in their knees, shoulders, ankles and torsos seemed amplified by defeat. Up in the ramshackle North Stand, a six-year-old’s top lip trembled as he sniffed back the tears. Dreams shattered, heart broken, he looked around for someone or something to blame the one-point defeat on. And the culprits were sitting either side of him, his parents.
In that six-year-old’s head, the loss wasn’t down to a mistake by the Cardiff winger or the collective spirit shown by Newport that day. The loss was all down to his mum and dad's refusal to buy him a beautiful blue and black rosette he’d seen for sale outside the ground. He had fallen in love with and started a forty-one-year relationship with Cardiff RFC, some six months earlier on the 18th September 1976 when his father had lifted him over the turnstiles to see Cardiff beat Coventry. That rosette would have allowed him to proudly show his support to the team, but his parents, who to be fair to them had already bought tickets and a match programme and no doubt a hot dog, thought enough was enough and refused to pay an inflated amount of money for a tatty paper adornment and thus Cardiff lost the final.
And you know, I still believe it now. If my parents had bought me that rosette, then Cardiff would have been the victors on the bright and breezy day in 1977 and I wouldn’t have been in a sulk all the way back on the bus to my nan’s house. I am not sure why I thought that a rosette would have made the difference; perhaps Barry Nelmes and Gareth Edwards would have spied it from the field and tried that little harder, maybe it would have somehow caught the sun and put podgy Newport fullback Leighton Davies off his winning kick, maybe gods move in mysterious ways. All ridiculous I know, but the belief became so ingrained that when I think of that final now I think not of the disappointment of losing, but the ache of what might have been if I’d had that rosette.
But you know forty years on, I am glad they didn’t buy it for me. During the next forty years Cardiff have had the odd success, most notably our cup wins in 1981 and 1982, but in general, it has been one abject failure after another. So, by not buying me the rosette and thus consigning Cardiff to their fate in the 1977 Cup Final, my parents gave me the best preparation for my life as a supporter of Cardiff.