Thursday, 4 January 2007

Tich Gwilym Playing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

I’m not ashamed to tell you that the archive footage of Tich Gwilym playing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, aired by the BBC on Newsnight tonight, brought a lump to my throat. If they’d shown more than a few seconds of it, I’m sure I would have cried.

Some years ago, Sky Television invited me to a boxing match between Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno, which was rather bizarrely held outdoors in the old Arms Park in October. Cardiff was lashed by torrential rain for the whole day, but it broke just long enough for Lewis to beat the crap out of a hapless Bruno and the actual fight was over in no time.

It was a strange set-up, with the curious Welsh locals in the cheap seats in the upper tiers, miles from the ring, and the proper boxing fans, mostly London east enders, seated in the expensive seats down on the pitch. The mid-price lower stands were totally empty.

Before the kick-off (punch-off), they played Hen Wlad fy Nhadau and someone, I don’t remember who, led the singing. The upper stands erupted in song, while all around me – I was sat at ringside in the front row - was uncomprehending silence. At that moment, I just wanted to be up there with the boys in the stands.

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