Often named as “The greatest player you never saw”, the life and career of Robin Friday has devolved into more legend than fact at this point.
However, when it came to such a mercurial talent as the Acton-born forward, truth was always stranger than fiction in his eclectic and bombastic career.
While his career was short, Robin Friday’s star shone twice as bright as anybody else. This began during his time at Reading, but Robin Friday’s debut at Cardiff City is one of the most incredible stories in football history.
Robin Friday Cardiff City Debut
English striker Robin Friday signed for Cardiff City in December 1976, joining from Reading for a £28,000 fee.
He was known as one of the top talents in England at the time, scoring goals for fun and embarrassing defenders like nobody else.
However, it was off the pitch where Robin Friday struggled. Drink, drugs and crime were a constant presence in his life, stopping him from becoming one of the top footballers in the world.
He was arrested on the way to Cardiff to sign for the Bluebirds, attempting to skip the fair and avoid paying for the train.
Robin Friday was eventually bailed out by then-Cardiff manager Jimmy Andrews, something which would become commonplace in his brief spell in the Welsh capital.
Even the night before he made his debut with Cardiff (which was against Fulham on New Year’s Day 1977), he stayed up until 5am partying, drinking and other things that do not warrant discussing.
When he finally made it to the pitch for his Cardiff City debut, Robin Friday made his presence known immediately.
The first thing he did was make a beeline for England’s World Cup winning captain, Bobby Moore, kicking the legend unprovoked to start the game.
Friday often toed the line of genius and madman, with this act definitely teetering into the latter.
This would not be the only time in the match that Moore would be upset at Friday, but for the rest of the game it was his incredible talent that saw the World Cup Winner cursing, as his picked himself up from the ground again, and again.
Robin Friday scored twice for Cardiff in the 3-0 victory, targeting the World Cup-winning captain for the majority of the game – including squeezing his testicles!
Cardiff City fans remember this game fondly. After Friday suffered the ignominy of being arrested just days before the
One Cardiff City fan remembered his debut fondly, writing about the match against Fulham on New Year’s Day in 1977.
Writing his experience attending the match on the CardiffCityForum, user “Rumpo Kid” wrote:
“Saw his debut v Fulham on New Years Day, 1977. From what I remember, him and Paul Went made their debuts, and Bobby Moore and George Best would play for Fulham, although Best stayed on the bench. I recall Oxford bags, pie shoes, and DMs everywhere, also skinheads as the fashion.”
“I can still see Friday scoring at the Grange End, second half, with a trick that sent the defender the wrong way, and I think he scored at the Canton first half. Seemed a player who every time he got the ball, something good would happen.. with rolled down socks, and that got the crowd up.”
“Also recall the ‘Thief’ chant every time Moore touched the ball.”
The “thief” chant aimed towards Bobby Moore was in reference to his arrest at the 1970 World Cup finals in Brazil.
Despite is brilliance on the pitch, Robin Friday lasted less than a year (and 21 league matches) with the Bluebirds.
He made his final appearance on 10 December in Cardiff’s 6–3 away defeat against Bolton, before storming into the managers’ office to announce his retirement from football.
Robin Friday was only 25 when he retired from professional football, and died in his flat from a heroin overdose at age 38.