The memories of football fans can be very fickle things.
There will be fans who still haven’t forgiven certain players or clubs for something that happened back in the 1980s.
Whereas there will be those who are willing to forget a person’s past indiscretions because of the good things they’ve done since.
The past eight years in the life of Vincent Tan and his interactions with Cardiff City F.C. perfectly epitomise this issue.
Having purchased a stake in the Bluebirds in May 2010, Tan was seen as the knight in shining armour for Cardiff due to the dire financial position the club was in after the mismanagement under Sam Hammam and Peter Risdale.
Fans everywhere immediately fell in love with his high belt, his sartorial decisions – most notably the lesser-seen football shirt-over-collared shirt combo – and his willingness to spend money.
However, this goodwill only lasted until May 2012, when it was announced that in order to facilitate a huge investment plan reportedly up to £100m, which would be used to increase the capacity of the stadium and build a new training ground, the colour of Cardiff’s home kit would be changed from it’s traditional blue to red.
This was the first time – and definitely not the last – in my footballing life as a fan that I had genuinely felt emotions ranging from sadness to pure anger towards a decision not made on the pitch and it took me a while to really compute Tan’s thought-process.
To my relief and the relief of Cardiff fans everywhere, Tan reversed his decision to change the kit colour after the outpouring of opposition to his decision.
But it only took a month for Tan to reverse that decision and to go ahead with the rebrand, with his excuse being the red colour would help the club expand into foreign markets.
Despite Tan’s clearance of the £30m Langston Corporation debt, fans turned on him and the club became quite a negative place.
For once, Cardiff were the butt of most jokes from football fans everywhere and surprisingly the jokes weren’t all sheep orientated.
The vitriol that poured towards Tan probably would have reached a tipping point if it hadn’t been for the wonders of the now disgraced Malky Mackay, who was able to lead Cardiff to the Championship title and the Premier League.
The promotion didn’t change the feeling of the fans towards Tan but instead gave them something else they could focus on, meaning the pressure on Tan was eased somewhat.
However, when the pressure increased on Mackay after a poor run of form and it looked like he might be sacked, the fans focused their attention back on Tan and there were threats of violence if Mackay was sacked.
The most memorable moment of this protest came after Cardiff’s loss at Anfield in December where the fans stayed for about an hour after the final whistle, professing their love for Mackay and objecting to his potential removal as Cardiff manager.
But eventually, Mackay was sacked, Ole Gunnar Solskjær came in and Cardiff were relegated.
Once again, the club became a dark place after the relegation with fans deciding to stop turning up, investment on players was down as Tan tried to earn some of his hard-earned money back and there were fears that the club may slide into the black hole that has claimed clubs such as Charlton Athletic, Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers.
But I believe the ill-feelings towards Tan began to thaw in August 2014 when Mackay was on the brink of being appointed as the new Crystal Palace manager.
It was released – most likely from Tan himself – that Mackay and then sporting director Iain Moody had sent text messages that were
I remember feeling sorry for Tan that he had to put up with such a horrible man, and this is where the road to redemption began for him.
He made the obvious decision and changed the kit colour back to blue, although this didn’t mean that fans forgave him for ripping the soul of the club out.
Despite not doing anything of note on the football pitch between 2014 and 2016 – under the stewardship of such footballing luminaries as Russell Slade and Paul Trollope – Tan was able to recoup some of his finances and Cardiff were able to rid themselves of some of the toxic characters that were with us in the top flight.
But Tan’s stroke of genius came in October 2016 when he hired the man, the myth, the legend – Neil Warnock.
As a man who is so well suited to Cardiff as a city and a fanbase, Warnock was the burst of life that the club needed and has somehow dragged us into the Premier League again.
Alongside the good feelings that Warnock has brought with him, the cooperation that Tan has shown has brought a lot of fans back from the cold and he is once again a firm fan favourite.
And this brings us back to the fickle nature of football fans. Cardiff fans have still not forgiven Peter Risdale for his part in bringing debt to the club but they are able to forgive Tan for all his previous actions.
This is why owners get into football. Not to earn more money but to earn the love and respect of the fans of the club they own and Tan once again has done that.
Well, unless he tries to change the kit colour again.