Friday, April 11, 2008

Wembley Singing

The famous recording of the crowd at 1927 has a version of Abide with Me that has seldom, if ever, been bettered. This was the first time it was sung at the final after a ceremony earlier in the day to remember Welsh Guards lost in the WW1.

It has always been a tear jerker for me. the tune is now synonomous with Wembley and I never thought that I would be one of those people singing it. Never. Not ever.

But on May 17th I will be there, full throated belting it out. Except this time I suspect that my only company will be some West End crooner, or maybe Katherine Jenkins. You see football fans don't actually sing any more, and Cardiff City fans certainly don't. We grunt and rush our way through the few tunes that we do have. It wouldn't be done to be seen enjoying yourself and actually lingering on a few notes. No, even Men of Harlech has to be doubled up in Tempo and performed semi-aggressively. Forget the notes, this is a war chant.

I've heard fans chant through Abide with Me in recent years. Whether this is ignorance or another example of purposeful disrespect I don't know. But TV footage scanning the crowd usually shows shirt sleeved fans navel gazing or watching the glamorous tart on the screen. 1927 Communal singing it is not.

But Wembley have themselves to blame. I am sure it is they who started playing music on the PA after the final whistle. So last week, as we reached the FA Cup Final for the first time in 80 years , we weren't allowed to celebrate. We had the musical choice of Wembley's Entertainment Manager blasted at us while our players tried to take in the magnitude of their achievement.

The Wembley Organiser is a Jeremy Clarkson type. He must be. They played Queen, Status Quo and Jeff Beck. This wasn't the selection of a 22 year old black woman. This was the unimaginative, clicheed pap that is played after every sporting occasion of importance from the Rugby 6 Nations Finale to the Johnstons Paint Trophy. It sucks.

But seriously, who wants it? There must have been market research before the foisted this on us? Who did they ask?

I can only think that it is played to ensure that the celebrations go the way that the PR Company would like. Sponsors don't want their name bandied about the Wembley turf while the fans chant about opposition slums and the sexual preferences of their opponents wives.

One other issue is the anthem. there is a lot of discussion at the moment about whether Cardiff will boo God Save the Queen. In this instance , I personally hope that we don't. Yes, I can see the attraction. Viewers worldwide will see that it isn't our anthem and our status as a seperate nation will be reinforced. England deserves the abuse for using an anthem that celebrates its achievements in colonising the world, including Wales. They deserve more abuse for appropriating that song for use as a British anthem. For England read Britain.

But...this is different. It is their anthem, and the game is being played on English turf. We are guests in the country and I would hope that we can have enough self-respect to behave like citizens a reborn country. We don't need to value ourselves by comparison to England any more. There are much more positive ways of being Welsh.

Apart from the self-defeating tactic of booing the National anthem of the referee, there are other considerations. Remember England rugby team playing at Croke Park last year, the very ground where the British army had murdered spectators within living memory. Everybody expected a tumult when the Queen was played. The resulting silence and polite applause was stunning.

Ireland that day displayed their new maturity and confidence. It was a spectacular coup-de-grace for their Nation. If Cardiff City could manage the same respect at the FA Cup Final, I can't help thinking that a massive point will have been made about Wales' own self-respect and standing as a small, but dignified European State. Come on lads -it's too easy to boo. Think about it. Silence is golden in this instance.

No comments: