The playing of national anthems before any given event, or when much sought-after medals are being collected, is a time-honoured tradition that gets the heart racing and competitive juices pumping.
Grown men can be reduced to tears while belting out a song that means so much to so many, with carefully crafted lyrics tying all of those that hail from a particular corner of the world together.
In the case of Wales, there is something special about bonding over ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ (Land of My Fathers), with GOAL taking a look at one of the more passionate tunes from the world of sport.
Wales national football team anthem
When competing under a Great Britain banner at competitions such as the Olympic Games, those of Welsh heritage have to make do with ‘God Save The Queen’ being their anthem of choice – as that ties all of the United Kingdom together.
When heading out on their own though – in football, rugby and the Commonwealth Games – international representatives of Wales get to sing ‘Land of My Fathers’ at great volume whenever an opportunity presents itself.
A loyal fan base has been able to deliver renditions of that at the last two European Championships on a footballing stage, while the hope is that it will soon be gracing the World Cup finals as Gareth Bale and Co take aim at Qatar 2022.
Land of My Fathers lyrics in full
Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad,
Dros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.
Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad.
Tra môr yn fur i’r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau.
Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i’m golwg sydd hardd;
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i fi.
Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad tan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Cymry mor fyw ag erioed,
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.
(Translated into English)
This land of my fathers is dear to me
Land of poets and singers, and people of stature
Her brave warriors, fine patriots
Shed their blood for freedom
Land! Land! I am true to my land!
As long as the sea serves as a wall for this pure, dear land
May the language endure for ever.
Old land of the mountains, paradise of the poets,
Every valley, every cliff a beauty guards;
Through love of my country, enchanting voices will be
Her streams and rivers to me.
Though the enemy have trampled my country underfoot,
The old language of the Welsh knows no retreat,
The spirit is not hindered by the treacherous hand
Nor silenced the sweet harp of my land.
The words to ‘Land of My Fathers’ were written by esteemed poet Evan James in 1856, while the tune was composed by his son, James.
It was originally known as ‘Glan Rhondda’ (Banks of the Rhondda), with the popularity of the song gradually increasing from 1858.
When was Land of ‘My Fathers’ introduced to Welsh sport?
The first recorded rendition of ‘Land of My Fathers’ being used as a national anthem by Wales ahead of a sporting fixture came in 1905 ahead of the country’s rugby team facing a touring side from New Zealand.
Fans continued to sing it from the stands on a regular basis after that, but the Welsh football team continued to use ’God Save The Prince of Wales’ or ‘God Save The Queen’ until sporting bodies decided in 1975 that ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ should be sung alone.
Many petitions to make the song the official national anthem of Wales have been submitted down the years, but none have ever been passed.
It could, however, get an outing in the Middle East later this year as, having failed to reach a World Cup since 1958, a side working under the management of caretaker coach Rob Page have booked a place in the play-off finals of the UEFA qualification section.