The day Paul Jewell compared me to Jimmy Bullard – Carl’s Travels with Town
PUBLISHED: 12:26 05 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:26 05 March 2020
Football writer Carl Marston has visited 122 Football League grounds, many of them reporting on Ipswich Town. Here he recalls a trip to Cardiff City, from nine years ago
I know I only mentioned Jimmy Bullard in this column a few weeks ago, with reference to his debut goal for Ipswich Town at Derby County's Pride Park, from a decade earlier.
But I can't resist another tale involving the charismatic midfielder - and I have my reasons.
Firstly, it is almost nine years to the day since Bullard bagged a brace of goals in a fine 2-0 win at Cardiff City, on March 5, 2011.
And secondly, it was during the press conference of two days later - so exactly nine years to the day (on March 7, 2011), that then-Town manager Paul Jewell, completely out of the blue, awoke me from my slumbers by comparing me to Jimmy Bullard!
Nothing to do with my footballing talents, I hasten to add, or my habit of netting goals in the Championship.
But rather, my hairstyle.
Now I never usually switched off, during a Portman Road press conference, but I confess I was feeling a little bit sleepy as Jewell replied to the usual sea of questions regarding injuries, away wins, extinguishing relegation fears, hopes of a top-10 finish etc etc .... when 'Marston' and 'Bullard' were suddenly uttered in the same sentence by Town's supremo.
It was enough to give me a right start.
Before I recount that awkward moment (certainly no claim to fame), I need to back-track to a couple of days before, when Town eased to a 2-0 win at the Cardiff City Stadium.
It was a Sky TV tea-time feast and, true to form when the TV cameras were around, Bullard rose to the occasion by scoring twice.
The Hull City loanee, as I mentioned above, had netted on his Town debut at Derby in a 2-1 win a month earlier, when Stephen Bywater was in goal, on loan for the Rams from Cardiff.
And it was Bywater, back at Cardiff, who was again beaten by Bullard, this time twice, on 67 and 86 minutes, to upset the form-book - Cardiff would have gone second, with a win, but as it was Town inched up to 14th in the table, 11 clear of the drop-zone.
Speed on two days and, back at Portman Road, I was minding my own business scribbling down some notes about the merits of Bullard, courtesy of Jewell's encouraging quotes, and the possibility of signing him full-time in the summer.
It was then that Jewell mentioned my own name.
"He reminds me of another Jimmy Bullard, him there Carl," declared Jewell to the listening press corps.
"He's got that same type of hairstyle. He stands out in a crowd, and his price stands out more than anything," added Jewell.
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Now I am not used to being compared to a foremr Premier League footballer, especially one who has commanded a fee in excess of £5m and was reported to have weekly wages form their parent club (Hull) of a cool £45K.
It did not sit easy with me.
And I doubt whether Bullard would have been very chuffed with being compared to a local hack with dubious hair!
Fortunately, I don't think he ever got wind of the comparison.
- Club: Cardiff City
- Founded: 1899 (as Riverside AFC)
- Ground: Cardiff City Stadium (since 2009)
- Town's first visit: 2-1 away defeat on January 14, 1939
- Town's last visit: 3-1 away defeat on October 31, 2017
- Town's overall record (at Cardiff City): P27 W10 D6 L11
The biggest club attendance at Cardiff's current ground, since the Bluebirds moved their 11 years ago, is 33,082 for the visit of Liverpool in April of last year. But of more interest to me is the smallest home attendance of 4,194, because I was in the press box that day - for the visit of Colchester United (FA Cup tie on Jan 2, 2015).
It was a Friday night fixture, it was an awful game, the U's never did themselves justice (although current Town front-runner Freddie Sears did score a late consolation), and the result was a 3-1 away defeat. However, the food in the press lounge was excellent, so it was not all bad.
Town's visit/Carl's experience
n March 5, 2011: Cardiff City 0 Ipswich Town 2 (Championship)
This was a rare away day to cherish, during the 2010-11 season.
It was back down to earth with a bump the following weekend, a 3-1 home defeat to Reading. Bullard was injured and did not play. Perhaps he was embarrassed by that midweek hairy comparison?