Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Welsh Anthem at Wembley?

Let me nail my colours to the mast. I've voted Plaid Cymru all my life. For a short time I was treasurer of the Adamsdown branch. But sometimes, the flag-waving nationalism gets a little embarrassing. That's why I've ignored Rhodri Glyn Thomas's call for Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau to be played at Wembley.

Firstly, I'm not sure what platform Rhodri is using when he decides to comment on the issue. As a Welsh Assembly member? For Carmarthen? Maybe I could remind Mr Thomas that Carmarthen Town FC play in the Welsh Premier, and to his credit he has lent his support to the club previously. But please, stay out of this one. It's got nothing to do with you.

There is a fundamental issue at stake here, regarding Welsh independence. Like it or not, God Save the Queen is the British Anthem, and Wales has declined to vote for independence. A shame in my opinion, but democracy must be respected. You could argue that the English anthem won't be played (they don't have one), so why should the Welsh?

If it is so important to hear the National Anthem before the cup final, then Cardiff City can play in Wales. It's as simple as that. Our own Cup Final is being played between Llanelli and Bangor City at Newtown on 4th May. The winners will receive the oldest trophy in football, dating from 1878.

But for very good business and sporting reasons, Cardiff City rely on the munificence of the FA (so self-important they don't even prefix it and call it the English FA.) Yes, historically we were there pretty much at the beginning, and its questionable whether it was ever a uniquely English competition, but as it stands it is recognised as the English Cup. In Welsh, the translation for FA Cup is Cwpan Lloegr, "The English Cup".

I think most people accept that playing of the Welsh anthem would be inappropriate. I'm not sure that there is even a serious amount of backing for the idea. It's the sort of thing that fills newspaper columns and radio phone-ins, but it's wrong on so many levels that there can be no credible argument for it.

If TNS (who play in Oswestry) reach the Welsh Cup Final, will they play God Save the Queen?
I wonder if the Catalan anthem gets played at the Copa del Rey when Barcelona reach the Final. Did Derry City play God Save the Queen for the 2006 Irish Cup Final? I doubt it very much. Derry is a fiercely Irish club, despite their geographical situation.

But that's the important bit. Cardiff City is just a football club. It isn't a flag bearer for the Welsh Nation. The club's national identity is magnified because we play in England, but really it's just a club. Look closely. What is Welsh about it other than its location? What does being Welsh mean in the modern day?

We're getting too philosophical here. It's just a football match being played in the English Cup in England. There are major questions about God Save the Queen's status as a British anthem, but that's another story. The FA Cup Final has nothing to do with nationhood or national identity. Cardiff City will do its bit for the Welsh nation just by being there. And we will take our flags and 5,000 of us (but not me) will boo the British Anthem. And then 30,000 neutrals, and the English referee will become Portsmouth fans for the day. But Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau? Not today thank you.


David said...

Great post. Well said.

I've been arguing those points for the last three days.

Nice to see someone else just wanting to focus on the cup, the two clubs and the event.

Anonymous said...

Surely two valid arguments for playing the anthem are ;

Precedent- it was played in 1927 and at Swansea's Wembley finals

Respect - the best way to ensure a civil reception for GSTQ is to play LOMF and for both clubs to ask to respect the others' national anthems (as Man City did for the Munich tribute earlier in the season).

I don't think it is anyone's foremost issue about the game but it would be pleasant if it is handled with some style and grace by the EFA and both clubs.

Hen Ferchetan said...

Without commenting on whether the anthem should or shouldn't be played, I'd guess that Rhodri Thomas was speaking in his capacity as the Welsh Minister for Sport.

Eric The Red said...

Yes sure, but he is the minister for sport in Wales. This match has very little to do with Wales, if anything.

Carwyn Edwards said...

God save the Queen is the English national anthem!!! When their national rugby or footie teams plays they blare that tune!!!!

As a promoter of all things Welsh worldwide and the game with a global audience of course we should demand Hen Wlad fy Nhadau to be played!!!
We need to be more militant about every opportunity to wave the flag!!I have seen the Jewish and Irish lobby over here in the US and they would be all over this kind of situation. Like it or not Cardiff (Our capital)is show casing Welsh sport on a international stage! Be proud of it not hide it!!!!

Hen Ferchetan said...

Eric the Red. No, he's not the minister of sport IN Wales, he is the minister of welsh sports.

Cardiff City, being an FAW member (not an FA member) and based in Wales, is a Welsh club - wherever the game is played.

Any other interpretation would have you saying that the UK government should not comment on Man U playing away in the Champions League.

David said...

I have seen the Jewish and Irish lobby over here in the US and they would be all over this kind of situation

Yes, let's be more like the Yanks and their lobbies.

Jesus Christ, can't we watch a game of club football without people getting uppity about nationalism.

It's just not needed in this context.