West Ham welcome newly-promoted Cardiff City to the Boleyn Ground on Saturday for the opening game of the 2013/2014 Premier League and, as expected, the excitement is getting a bit too much to handle for both clubs.

After years of Championship play-off disappointment for Cardiff, they’re finally in the Premier League and raring to go.

So, as part of West Ham World’s brand new ‘Opposition View’ column, we caught up with Cardiff City programme collector Matt Charles to find out a little bit more about Cardiff ahead of tomorrow’s much anticipated tie…

Saturday marks your first ever season in the Premier League. How excited are you to finally be competing with the big boys after so many years of play-off heartbreak?

Finally we have made it after 51 years!  It was an amazing feeling to finally see us getting promoted as Champions last season. We have been there-or-there-abouts for a few years and I think it is about time we got there. The play off defeats including Blackpool, Reading and the Hammers were terrible and I certainly don’t want to be in them anytime soon.

You’ll remember our last meeting a little differently to us. How much have you improved since that 5-0 play-off thrashing?

I remember the play-off defeat all to well. We were ill prepared and quite honestly out of steam by the time we played that game. So many games with such a small squad resulted in one result: “a proper stuffing”. Last season we greatly improved on the previous season with a much better squad and one that was well equipped to win the league.

Are you happy with Cardiff’s transfer activity this summer?

Malky has made very good signings in my eyes. For a start, we have “stolen” Caulker from Tottenham Hotspur, a bargain at £8million. We have signed Gary “el pitbul” Medel from Seville for £9.5million. Expect to see a very good player with him. We have also signed Andreas Cornelius from FC Copenhagen for £8.5million, although I haven’t seen too much of him as he picked up an ankle injury. John Brayford – last season’s Championship Player of the Year signed from Derby for very little money.

All-in-all, so good so far with plenty other players linked with us.

Who are your key players this season?

The four key players for us will be Marshall, our keeper, who had 19 clean sheets last season. Kim bo Kyung, the South Korean international, started off slow last year but is simply awesome in the middle of the park now. Fraizer Campbell has been excellent in pre-season and, as long as he stays fit, he will be knocking them in left right and centre (hopefully!). I can’t leave him out but, our very own Craig Bellamy must be played correctly and will tear defences to pieces.

What’s your achilles heel?

I am happy about most positions on the park except the second centre half. ‘Huds’ (Mark Hudson) was excellent last season and played along side left-sided Ben Turner. Both very good players but both with their own faults. Huds can be slow over the first five-yards, Turner is the same but with suspect distribution. It will be interesting to see who Malky starts with on Saturday, I would assume Turner, as Caulker is now the number one right centre-half. I am slightly worried, though, to be honest.

Are there any Hammers players in particular that you fear could be a threat to Cardiff on Saturday?

I would have said Andy Carroll but, from reports, it seems he will be missing with injury. Joe Cole and Kevin Nolan – both excellent and players both who can cause damage. Nolan has been a thorn in our sides before and I’m sure he will be looking to score more against us on Saturday.

What’s your prediction for the game? Will it be a case of revenge for Cardiff?

My heart says a 90th minute winner for us, but my head says a very tough draw. With Malky’s work ethic our lot will not stop going until the final whistle.

What are your expectations this season?

For this season I would just like to see us finish 4th from bottom as a minimum. I am under no illusions that its going to be a very tough season, but I still think that we will shock quite a few teams. I would like to think we would win at least seven or eight of home matches with a few wins and decent draws away from home. I have confidence that we will stay up, especially with the sensible amount of cash that we have spent.

Are you happy with Malky Mackay as manager?

Malky is a very good manager and he analyses everything from the first touch to the types of teabags used by the tea lady! I feel if we had been given the backing in the 2011/12 season we would have gone up then. He will be one for the future and I’ll stick my neck out and say he will eventually be the Scotland manager.

If you could swap one of your players with one of ours, who would you pick and why?

Thats a tough one but I would say Rudy Gestede for Ricardo Vaz Te. Both are good on their day and are similar players but, Vaz Te has that little bit more experience that we require.


Matt Charles has been a Cardiff City season ticket holder for over twenty years and has impressively missed just one home game during that period – which was due to him having the small matter of a honeymoon to attend to.

Matt is one of the largest collectors of Cardiff City programmes and memorabilia, and knows pretty much all there is to know about Cardiff programmes. He owns and has been slowly designing and uploading programmes to the website over the past year. With over 2000 home programmes to scan in, you can imagine it takes a lot of time and effort.

Matt is in need of a couple of West Ham v Cardiff City programmes from the mid-1940s for his collection so, if you have any spare, please get in touch with him via his site or via his Twitter account (@CCFCProgrammes).


West Ham World would like to wish Matt and Cardiff City the best of luck in the Premier League this season. Apart from tomorrow, obviously.