Come See Our New Signing… Before He Leaves!
The mind blowing signing of Neymar from Barcelona to PSG, plus some other unrestrained figures this summer, got me thinking about record fees in the past, and in particular, at the time Cardiff City’s record signing in 1982, striker and prolific goalscorer, Godfrey Ingram and the impact he had at the Ninan Park club.
The season 1982-83, Cardiff City were playing in the Third Division, with Len Ashurst at the helm. In the playing ranks, Cardiff had some very decent players at that level such as the Bennett brothers, Dave and Gary, a young upcoming goalkeeper in Andy Dibble and some experienced professionals in Bob Hatton, Keith Pontin and Phil Dwyer. In attack alongside Hatton was a striker called Jeff Hemmerman, who had just signed from Portsmouth, his goalscoring record was not fantastic at the time of leaving Portsmouth he had scored 39 goals in 123 league appearances in all competitions. Cardiff felt they needed more goal power in a team they and others felt had a great chance of gaining promotion that season.
In America, Godfrey Ingram was a real goalscoring threat, in the 2 seasons previously, Ingram had scored in total, 51 goals in 68 games for San Jose Earthquakes and Golden Bay Earthquakes respectively. Ingram had a brief spell in England prior to going to America with Luton Town, his hometown club, and a loan spell at Northampton Town, neither where he stood out as a top class striker. However, after the 2 years in America, he had shown a real skill for finding the back of the net, he was now 22 years of age, Cardiff needed a striker and Cardiff decided this was going to be the man to fire them to promotion.
Ingram joined Cardiff City for a then club record fee of a reported £200,000, big money, especially for a Third Division side in 1982. Hopes were high in the capital club side in Wales. Ingram scored the winning goal in October in a home League encounter against Gillingham in front of over 4,800 fans at Ninian Park, had the fans found themselves the goal hero they were looking for?
The answer was purely and simply no. Only 9 weeks after a club record fee was paid, Godfrey Ingram after only 11 games and 2 goals was on his back to America rejoining Golden Bay Earthquakes for a reported identical fee to what Cardiff had paid them only 2 months previous. The rumour is that no fee ever took place initially, so the player just returned to where he came from. There have been many stories on the reason why he returned to America, including Ingram being homesick, also a rumour that he returned as Cardiff simply found they could not afford the transfer fee, whatever the true reason the whole episode was bizarre and goes down as one of the strangest transfer affairs in football.
In terms of Cardiff and the 1982-83 season, they did indeed achieve their goal of promotion to the Second Division, Cardiff finished second to the Champions that year, Portsmouth, the club who Cardiff had acquired striker Jeff Hemmerman, who that season fired 26 goals for The Bluebirds that season, playing a huge part in their promotion success. Cardiff was right they did need a goalscorer, turned out they had him in Jeff Hemmerman, not Godfrey Ingram.
Ingram went onto be a big success in America, scoring goals for fun. His career ended in 2001, and at that time he had amassed 276 goals in 442 appearances in all competitions, impressive numbers for any striker at any level. He will be fondly remembered in America for his exploits but in Cardiff, you will found many fans still scratching their head over the whole episode of when Godfrey Ingram played for Cardiff City. Blink and you could have missed it.
Feature picture, photo credit: http://www.walesonline.co.uk