Championship promotion and relegation resolved on final day

Neil Warnock is king of the Harlech globetrotters after clinching a record eighth promotion at the age of 69.

As the only manager to lead four different clubs – Notts County, Sheffield United, Queen’s Park Rangers and now Cardiff – into the top flight, Warnock can lay claim to his own page of football history.

In truth, the football match which served as the forerunner to a party was a scrappy anti-climax – but the old boy won’t care two hoots.

This is one of football’s most remarkable success stories, orchestrated by one of the game’s great survivors.

Let’s hear it for Warnock, the former chiropodist who used to clock off early from clipping his patients’ toenails to make distant midweek kick-offs and lead Scarborough into the Football League 31 years ago.




Since then, he has become a season-ticket holder in confounding the odds, never more so than when he took over at Cardiff 81 games ago with the Bluebirds languishing 23rd in the Sky Bet Championship.

Without significant investment from owner Vincent Tan – whose bungling attempt to change the club’s famous blue shirts to red went down like nuns at a swingers’ party, Warnock has somehow sustained an assault on the penthouse with a squad which looked bang-average on paper.

His only guilty pleasure is going for a spin in his red 1962 Massey Ferguson on his farm in Cornwall – and in August Warnock will be back in the Premier League, ploughing his own furrow and upsetting the purists one more time.

To complete the latest track on his greatest hits compilation, Warnock only needed to match third-placed Fulham’s result at Birmingham.


And after 15 minutes of frantic overtures in the Welsh capital, the grapevine burst into life with the news that Cardiff’s only rivals for automatic promotion had fallen behind.

Amid the artless scuffling, Bluebirds winger Junior Hoilett seemed galvanised by the joyous bulletin from the Midlands, bending a first-time shot just wide and then being denied a clear penalty when Tiago Ilori cleaned him out in the box.

That’s the trouble with Premier League referees when they drop into the Championship to show us how it’s done: In his determination to be decisive, Bobby Madley got it wrong.

Madley did not even spot Reading skipper Chris Gunter taking a throw-in along the edge of a shadow cast by the main stand – four yards inside the actual touchline.

But irascible nerves among the sell-out choral society gathering were soothed by the update from St Andrews of a second Birmingham goal.


And although the Bluebirds lacked a cutting edge to go with their territorial domination, Liam Moore was required to clear Kenneth Zohore’s late effort off the line.

All that was left, before the mother of all parties in a rhapsody of blue, was a premature pitch invasion by clots who don’t understand a game is not over until the final whistle.

But South Wales will be the spiritual home of plink-plink-fizz in the morning.

When Cardiff City win promotion, all roads lead to Chip Alley at chucking-out time.

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