United States-based Cardiff City fan travels more than 6,000 miles to take in Bluebirds’ victory over West Ham

Mark Minnucci

by Callum Ellis

FOOTBALL fans clock up miles following their beloved teams home and away every week – and one dedicated Cardiff City supporter recently flew from America to watch his side in action.

Massachusetts-based Mark Minnucci racked up more than 6,000 miles to watch the Bluebirds’ 2-0 triumph over West Ham United earlier this month.

He spent five-and-a-half hours flying from Boston, as well a three-hour layover in Dublin to attend the fixture in the Welsh capital. It was also the very first time he had watched the club live.

Minnucci was provided with behind-the-scenes access at the Cardiff City Stadium and greeted by manager Neil Warnock and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge upon his arrival.

Goals from both Junior Hoilett and Victor Camarasa rounded off a perfect afternoon for the 38-year-old, as his side kept themselves well in the fight for Premier League survival.

“I was absolutely blown away to have the opportunity to meet anyone from the club let alone Etheridge and Warnock,” said Minnucci.

“I’ve been reaching out to club representatives and attempting to get more attention paid to Bluebirds fans in America. The club were incredibly gracious when I told them I was coming to see a live match and circumstances allowed me to meet both Neils.”

He continued: “Etheridge was warm and humble. He’s my favourite City player by far. Warnock was exactly as you see him in interviews. He joked with me that he was glad I visited so for once the media could have someone else to blame if Cardiff lost the match.

Minnucci racked up more than 6,000 miles to take in the game in the Welsh capital

“[I was] truly honoured to have been given the opportunity to meet them both.”

Minnucci started following the Bluebirds ahead of their first Premier League outing in the 2013/14 campaign – and has been hooked ever since.

Despite failing to maintain their top-flight status under former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that season, Minnucci insists he has “no regrets” over his decision to opt for the club.

“It was important to me to pick a newly-promoted side. In all aspects of my life, I love supporting the underdog. I was drawn to the storylines of “Welsh teams in the ‘English’ league”, the rivalry between Cardiff and Swansea, and the drama surrounding the rebrand.

“At the time, I thought Cardiff had the greatest odds of staying up, but as it played out we ended up in dead last. No regrets though and here we are once again in the Premier League.

He hopes history will not repeat itself again this season, though, and believes the club can avoid the drop zone if they overcome fellow strugglers Burnley at Turf Moor in April.

“Walking into the stadium, I felt like Cardiff were stuck in the relegation zone and survival was slipping away. But the team that showed up against West Ham was aggressive and energised.

“I think Southampton are out of our reach now given their remaining schedule. But Burnley have a worse schedule than us and we control our own destiny at this point.

“I’d say if we beat Burnley next month, then I see no reason we can’t stay up.”

Minnucci is also the founder of the US Bluebirds supporter club (@USBluebirds).