Monday, 19 March 2007

And we were singing hymns and arias

It may have been St. Patrick’s Day but by the time we reached capacity and the doors were locked, more than two hours before the kick-off in Cardiff, the majority of revellers at the Famous Three Kings in West Kensington were Welsh.

There were a few folk in green shirts, to be sure, but this most multi-cultural of London’s sports boozers is not really the place you’d go to meet Irish people, especially not on St. Pat’s in a city full of Irish theme pubs.

There were enough city boys in England shirts to put up a reasonable rendition of Swing Low Sweet Chariot at the point where England temporarily drew level but it was carried home to the tune of She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain and a lyric that told them where their chariot could be stuck; in a good-natured way, of course.

The Famous Three Kings receives literally thousands of satellite television channels. If there’s a sport being televised anywhere in the world it can be watched from North End Road. So a handful of Slovakian ice hockey fans were ensconced on the mezzanine, willing Bratislava to victory in their national cup final, and a few Pakistani fans stood glum-faced in one corner, transfixed with disbelief as Ireland knocked their mighty
cricket team out of the World Cup.

But the party held by the Red Dragonhood overshadowed everything else that was going on in London on Saturday evening. Armed with lyric cards handed-out by, we belted out Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau with a ferocity you’d rarely encounter at home.

The Brains Dark had run out by half time but the SA kept flowing until well into the next morning. We sang Calon Lân and Cwm Rhondda with tears rolling down our cheeks and, for me at least, it was emotional to meet the lovely folks who came along wearing our T-shirts.

Good people from all over Wales celebrated a memorable victory and partied into the night, embracing each other in brotherhood and sisterhood in a city far from home. And the English wonder why it’s so important to us?

Click here to check out The Red Dragonhood.

1 comment:

Alan said...

Dam and blarst Martin, you know how to give someone HIRAETH. My old pa was here, we followed the match via internet BBC updates, no visual. At night he wanted to go to a "churrascaria" that is, Gaucho barbecue restaurant, we spent the night stuffing ourselves with pieces of dead bovine grilled over hot coals and watching a Gaucho swinging his bolas (OOO-ERR!) in a (quite impressive) touristy show.