Cardiff City v Leeds United: 2002 – Photo, Videos and story

Cardiff City v Leeds United: 2002 – Photo, Videos and story


Jesse Marsch likes his history but there is very little to enjoy about Leeds United’s recent chapters involving Cardiff City and the FA Cup.

While it was 30 years ago on Tuesday that Wrexham dumped Arsenal out of the competition, January 6, 2002, marks two decades since the Bluebirds beat Leeds United by the same 2-1 score.

These days, while still an upset, Cardiff defeating Leeds wouldn’t be considered anywhere near as big of a shock as it was when David O’Leary’s side were sent packing from Ninian Park 20 years ago.

Back then, Alan Cork’s Cardiff were 10th in what is now League One after promotion the previous season, while Leeds led the Premier League, fresh from a run to the Champions League semi-finals.

A few months earlier O’Leary, a member of that Arsenal team beaten by Wrexham a decade previously, had signed striker Robbie Fowler for more than £10m.

He lined up for the third-round tie alongside Mark Viduka and Alan Smith, while Cardiff would have to find a way past a defence marshalled by Rio Ferdinand and Jonathan Woodgate.

Led by Irishman Graham Kavanagh, the Bluebirds included homegrown favourites Robert Earnshaw and Scott Young, as well as fellow Welshmen Danny Gabbidon and Andy Legg.

Leeds were dealt an early blow when Ferdinand was forced off with ankle ligament damage, but seconds later the Elland Road outfit went in front.

Gary Kelly played in Aussie frontman Viduka and he fired past Neil Alexander just 12 minutes in.

Mark Viduka gives Leeds an early lead at Ninian Park

The majority of the 22,000-strong crowd didn’t have to wait long before they were celebrating a Bluebirds equaliser.

Kavanagh almost seemed to catch keeper Nigel Martyn off guard when he tried his luck from a free-kick some 25 yards out.

The England gloveman couldn’t react in time and the hosts were level thanks to their skipper.

A key moment in the game occurred just before the break, referee Andy D’Urso issuing Smith a red card after elbowing Legg.

As the minutes ticked by, events off the field started to turn ugly.

Cardiff chairman Sam Hammam decided to watch the second half from behind the goal the hosts were attacking.

Getting there meant walking past the away fans – they did not have a warm welcome for him.

Bluebirds chairman Sam Hammam waves to the fans

Referee D’Urso required treatment after being struck by a coin thrown from the sidelines 10 minutes from time, while a missile also hit one of his assistants.

A draw looked on the cards until three minutes from the end.

Leeds failed to clear a corner and defender Young pounced to smash home the winner.

Scott Young wheels away in celebration after his late winner

“The manager was having a bit of a dig at me before the match, saying it was about time I got my first goal of the season,” said Young.

“That fired me up, but in my wildest dreams I couldn’t believe what happened.”

The final whistle was met with a pitch invasion by the home fans and several more unsavoury incidents involving supporters.

Hammam, whose club was later fined £20,000 by the FAW for the pitch invasion, had altercations with a BBC reporter and Leeds boss O’Leary.

A dozen arrests were made as a result of the crowd disturbances, including former Cardiff striker Dai Thomas, who was later jailed for 60 days for throwing an advertising hoarding at the visiting fans.

On the pitch, Cardiff were knocked out of the cup in the next round by Tranmere Rovers and Leeds failed to qualify for the Champions League.

Then Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale would later succeed Hammam in the same role at Cardiff.

“Sam stirred up the home fans and the atmosphere was fantastic,” said Ridsdale.

“I’ve watched football all over the world. I have been to Galatasaray, watched Manchester United v Leeds United at Old Trafford and many, many more big matches.

“Yet the atmosphere at Ninian Park that night was the best I have ever experienced.

“It was a combination of Leeds United’s team underestimating Cardiff City and the incredible support from home fans.”

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