Purse and Prior. Defenders old and new

Last updated : 21 September 2006 By Michael Morris
First there's a piece on Darren Purse and the way his season has started and then today former City player Spencer Prior stokes the fire ahead of Sunday's clash with his current club Southend Utd by claiming he was a target for abuse at Ninian Park because he is English.

Before I show you his comments I'd just like to say that I don't think any City fans "have a go" at any City player because of their nationality. They will target a player for a moan if they are not perfoming on the pitch and are not living upto the big reputations that they came with, like Prior. I will admit Spencer was a rock as we came through the play offs but many of his performances were less than expected of a player with such Premiership experience.

The Cardiff City fans at the moment adore their English manager, are being entertained by their English (Chopra) and Scottish (Thomson) strike partnership and have been glowing over an English (Johnson) and a Dutch (Loovens) central defender. Don't forget Alexander (Scottish), Flood (Irish), Glombard (French), Campbell (English), McPhail (Irish), Scimeca (English) the list goes on. We have a muiltinational team. The English fans might get stick on the terraces but not the players on the pitch wearing the blue shirt.

Funnily enough the only player who has been a target for a bit of a whinge this season is Darren Purse. That's because of a missed penalty, a sending off and an own goal in three of the first four matches he played. He turned the corner last weekend when he scord City's opener from the spot in the win over Luton.

Firstly Darren Purse talks about his season so far.

"It was good to score from the penalty spot," said Purse. "I missed my first one at Barnsley on our first game this season, so it was nice to tuck that one away and get us on the road to victory.

"It has been an eventful start to the season. We've been top of the table for almost all of the season so far. I've been given a red card, scored an own goal and scored a penalty, but I don't feel that there's been any extra pressure on me to perform.

"Things tend to get blown out of proportion sometimes. Yes, I scored an own goal, but most centre-halves do at one point or another.

"999 times out of a 1,000 I'd clear it, but that time I scored. In this career there's always pressure in one form or another. There are always things that go right and things that go wrong, you either thrive under that pressure or you don't."

"People might have wanted to think that Cardiff's bubble was about to burst when we lost at Preston and drew at Plymouth, but we're stronger than that," he continues.

"I don't think there's a better team going forward at the moment, we can always bounce back and we did that in convincing style on Saturday. "Hopefully, that has sent a message out to our doubters that we're here for the long run.

"We had a great win at the weekend and we needed it as well. We lost a three-goal lead to draw with Plymouth through the week so it was good to put that behind us with the win over Luton."

On the decision that won City the penalty on Saturday Purse said

"There's been a bit in the press about Emanuel's sending-off for handball, but from my point of view it was a definite sending-off.

"The ball was goal-bound and he stopped it with his hand. I have been sent off for a lot less."

City and Purse are now preparing to face Southend in front of the Sky camera's on Sunday at Roots Hall..

"We've got Southend which will be a tough one," said the City skipper.

"For a team that's just come up, they're doing really well and Roots Hall is a hard ground to travel to. It's a tight little ground so they have a good atmosphere.

"If we can play the way we have been playing, it will be an excellent opportunity to get a good result, but it will be a hard game for us.

"I don't think they have got any big individuals at Southend, but their ability to play as a strong team unit is what's getting them results.

"We know we're going to have to be on form if we want to get anything from the game, especially after the good result they got at West Brom at the weekend."

So onto Southend Utd and Spencer Prior. Once a player leaves Cardiff City he will either be appreciated or hated by the City fans when their paths cross.

Last week there were boos for Richard Langley, previously Cameron Jerome suffered the same fate. Not because they were Jamaican or English respectively but because they either failed to impress while at Ninian Park or in Cameron's case he was thought of as arrogant and above himself for comments in the paper about wanting to play for a bigger club. Go back to last season to Loftus Rd. Langley took stick from Cardiff fans who at the same time were aplauding Gareth Ainsworth. Wild Thing was liked by the City supporters because he appeared to care and put the effort in. In truth he never scored for City and only played a handful of games. His period here ended with a red card. He knew how to please the fans though. Langley was the opposite he didn't seem to make the effort as much as the fans would like so he became a target. He scored 8 goals and played 63 games. Still he'll never get a warm welcome in Cardiff whereas Ainsworth will get a standing ovation when he comes down this season.

Prior is not playing this Sunday, he's injured. If he'd said I struggled a little and maybe didn't perform to the best of my ability at times then fair enough. He's being honest and we know that. He didn't play like the Premiership striker we thought he would be.

But Spencer has not done that. He's blamed it on the fans reaction to him because he is English. Prior said

"It wasn't difficult for me to leave (Cardiff), to be honest. It was time to go.

"It was a low time for me. I wasn't enjoying my football and wanted to quit the game completely. That's what I planned to do actually.

"I wasn't playing as much as I would have liked and the way some of the supporters at Cardiff were treating me as well wasn't making me very happy.

"I came in for a lot of grief and I have no doubt it was mainly because I'm English.

"It's seems to me that at somewhere like Cardiff, if you're an English player, you have to work harder, do that bit more than, say a Welsh player would, to win over the fans.

"You have to go that bit further to be accepted by them just because you come from England. I have no doubt about that.

"Then there was what happened during the minute's silence at Ninian Park for the Queen Mother. The way some of the crowd reacted that day really got to me, I couldn't help that.

"I'm an Englishman and I'm very proud of that fact."

The Queen Mother incident came at Colchester a few seasons back. A section of City fans protested at a minutes silence for her death. Whether you suport the Royal Family is a different debate altogether. Once that was over there was 100% backing for the players wearing City's colours.

Speaking on other matters Spencer ranks the play off win as a career highlight.

"That win at the Millennium Stadium is right up there in my career.

"The season before, we lost to Stoke in the play-off semi-finals and it was absolutely awful. None of us wanted to experience anything like that gain.

"The club had spent a lot of money bringing in the likes of myself, Graham Kavanagh and Peter Thorne and we knew we had a responsibility to get promotion.

"When we did, there was a view we had achieved what we had been asked to do.

"I gave everything during my time at Cardiff. I'm not one of those players who could go to a club and just pick up my wages. I have to do my best.

"Cardiff was a club with ambition, that's what attracted me there and it still is a club which has even more ambitious plans."

Now Prior is at Southend but will miss Sunday's game.

"I'm totally gutted. It was a game I was really looking forward to," he said.

"I've been having a great time here. When I left Cardiff, I did some training with Colchester, then got an offer from Southend.

"I was unhappy at the position in the league my club was languishing in and I wanted to help get them to where they should be - and I believe that is in the Championship.

"If there is any secret to what's happening here, it's that we've not got any big-name players.

"There's a fantastic work ethic here within the squad, everybody helps each other out as much as they can."

"They (Southend and Cardiff) are not big, fashionable clubs, but each have worked hard to get where they are today," said Prior.

"They've each got these old, tight grounds that a lot of clubs don't like coming to and the supporters can get very vocal and passionate.

"It's the kind of atmosphere you don't seem to get much at these new stadiums.

"I'm not surprised to see Cardiff on top of the league.

"I've been looking at the division this year and think it's very open.

"The big factor for Cardiff is that they've got a very good manager in Dave Jones, who has done well and brought in some good players.

"You look at Michael Chopra, he's Premiership class and will do well in this division.

"The player everybody has been telling me about is Paul Parry. I've heard reports he's been terrific this season. I'm so glad for him.

"Not so far back people were saying Cardiff could never replace the likes of Danny Gabbidon or Rob Earnshaw, but things move on, that's the way with football.

"I don't see any reason why Cardiff shouldn't get promotion, it's been building up nicely down there for a while."

"Southend have had a reasonable start to the season and we need a win against Cardiff.

"We've had some very good results recently against West Brom and Norwich so we know we're up to the standard required.

"Of the teams we've come up against I've not seen anyone so far who made we go , 'Wow, they are head and shoulders above everyone else'.

"I'm looking forward to Cardiff. I think it's going to be a very open game."

Spencer. You will be judged by your efforts on the pitch. Not where you come from.

Full stories can be found here on Darren Purse and here on Spencer Prior.