An emotionally-charged Cardiff City Stadium burst into song following a poignant tribute to Peter Whittingham during the Bluebirds’ opening-day clash with Barnsley.
The fixture was the first league game since February 2020 in which supporters were permitted to attend the stadium following the outbreak of coronavirus.
During that time, of course, club icon Whittingham tragically lost his life at the age of just 35. No age at all.
The news hit City fans particularly hard, as it did the footballing fraternity around the country, and Cardiff supporters were desperate to pay homage to arguably the most gifted player ever to wear the shirt.
The club were adamant they wanted to make the tribute to Whitts as special as possible and in order to do that, the passionate City fans simply had to be in attendance.
Cardiff asked supporters to send in photographs of friends and loved ones who followed the Bluebirds for a pre-match montage on the two big screens at either end of the pitch.
After a huge banner of Whittingham was brought on to the field, which read ‘City loves you more than you will know’, before both sets of players then observed two minutes’ silence as more than 200 photographs adorned the jumbotrons at Cardiff City Stadium.
The montage finished, fittingly, with a video of Whitts scoring one of his trademark volleys — the one against Barnsley, Saturday’s opponents, 10 years ago, and a heartrending still photograph of the former City midfielder.
The montage also included other former City figures who have passed away during the last 16 months; Keith Pontin, Colin Baker, Fred Davies and Jimmy Goodfellow.
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That tribute was enough to send the stadium into a frenzy ahead of kick-off, as supporters threw their support behind Mick McCarthy’s Bluebirds.
Some members of City’s under-23s squad and the substitutes then took the banner from the pitch and passed it into the Canton Stand, where it was carried with pride and flown around the stadium.
With the City fans in full voice, perhaps the most touching of tributes came after seven minutes. As a tribute to the man who donned the No.7 for a decade in the Welsh capital, the 17,000-strong Cardiff fans began a rapturous minute’s applause in memory of the great man, who once again flashed up on the big screen, taking one of his trademark corner kicks..
The spinetingling applause then made way for a deafening rendition of the famous Peter Whittingham song, ‘He does what he wants, he does what he wants, Peter Whittingham, he does what he wants’, which was sung with gusto, emotion and lung-bursting pride for a man who did this club, and this city, so proud.