The piercing shriek of the ref’s whistle is instantly complimented by the jubilant howls of thousands; what was previously a regular football pitch resembles Sunday at Glastonbury within minutes – unfancied Cardiff City have just secured promotion to the Premier League.
Most of those who did their best Usain Bolt impression to sprint on and embrace their footballing heroes will agree that one man was the catalyst for this club’s remarkable transformation.
That man is Neil Warnock – the same individual that some call ‘Colin W****r’ due to an anagram of his name that aptly describes their disdain for the former QPR boss.
“He wasn’t always this calm. In truth he’s probably brought it upon himself.”
But journey to the Cardiff City Stadium and you will find very little else other than total adoration for the 69-year-old, as Inside Wales Sport founder Jamie Kemble describes.
“He’s the best speaker I’ve ever come across,” says the Cardiff University alumnus, who has sat in many Bluebirds press conferences.
“I’ve always found him great to deal with. He enjoys speaking to us and that makes a difference. He’s honest and down to earth – if he doesn’t like something, he will tell you there and then.”
“There’s something refreshing about that.”
Regarding his infamous reputation among opposition fans, Kemble is under no illusion why dislike for Warnock persists.
“He wasn’t always this calm and fans seeing him going up to players to say things after the game, hounding their manager on the touchline – it’s going to give you a bad reputation,” admits Kemble.
“In truth, he’s probably brought it upon himself.”
The ex-Sheffield United supremo has previously gone on record to admit that he is more suited to the Championship, and even described the top flight as “not his cup of tea” in an interview with talkSport last year.
The Yorkshireman has now gained promotion at Notts County, Huddersfield Town, Plymouth Argyle, Sheffield United, QPR and Cardiff City.
In his 31 years in football management, he has taken the reigns at 15 clubs, winning 12 manager of the month awards along the way.
In the cases of QPR and Cardiff, he took failing Championship clubs and turned them from relegation contenders to Premier League sides.
Kemble thinks Warnock only has a year left in the managerial hot seat before he calls it a day but believes he will still “want a role” to play in South Wales.
“If [Cardiff] stay up next season, I think he will move into a higher role and allow someone else to take it on,” notes Kemble.
“Even if they go down, I can’t see him trying to bounce back again, but I do think he will still have and want a role in the club.”
When he eventually does retire, football will have lost a great figure – it might be a little rich to compare him to the great Brian Clough but there are certainly similarities.
Hopefully ‘Colin’ will now be dealt a fair hand and get a decent crack at the top flight.
Featured image credit: Sky Bet