Weekend Extra: Intro to Cardiff football culture

On the eve of Kim Bo-Kyung‘s possible debut for Cardiff City, I thought I’d share a few pointers about the Welsh city’s soccer traditions.  I had the fortune of running into a poster going by the handle CJay on the BigSoccer Koreans Abroad forum who is the real deal – a Cardiff fan who grew up in the city. He offered this insight about the unique traditions over there:

It’s called the Ayatollah, and no, this is not meant to upset anyone in the Middle East.  I’ll let CJay take over:

“Well the history is a bit morbid, but in 1989 Ayatollah Khomeni died, and as the funeral was shown on tv a Cardiff fan called Eric the Red (not sure his real name) saw the crowds slapping their heads in disbelief of their leaders death. Then he and other fans started using it during league games because the team were doing awful, but then it caught on and since then everyone has been doing it. We are the only team in the world with this celebration as well!”

Here’s a Cardiff city write up about it:http://www.cardiffcity-mad.co.uk/ne…_ayatollah__19_years_today_463177/index.shtml  [note: if you take a look, they reference a Welsh punk band, U Thant, who transmitted the head slapping visuals into their shows in Cardiff.  I couldn’t find much about the band, but pleasantly pleased to learn that a certain Huw Bunford, after leaving U Thant, met up with Gruff Rhys on top of a train –that random meeting put some puzzle pieces in place, and the world would later discover the sounds of Super Furry Animals, a neat indie Welsh band. Ok, now win that Trivial Pursuit game for me].

Another bit of history, Cardiff has the oldest football chant. It’s been sung for over 104 years. It’s the same number of years they’ve been wearing the blue and white kits which they get their nickname from, the Bluebirds. Abruptly, that ended in August. Anyone following the club knows that the new Malaysian owner has given fans tons of grief by changing more than a century’s worth of tradition by switching Jersey colors red –RED?!

Kim Bo-Kyung, poses in a corporate-altered Cardiff jersey.

The new owner’s intent is marketing the jerseys to Asian consumers, the thinking was apparently the notion Asians only prefer that color. How’s that for over-generalizing color preferences of over a billion people!  Mind you, I’m not a born Cardiff City fan, but looking over the situation, it just rubs wrong. The flipside is that Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun’s (repeat that name 3 times in a row) money has rescued Cardiff from insolvency, with new training facilities and talent brought in (i.e. Craig Bellamy and the aforementioned Kim) -could make them competitive enough to break through to the Premiere League. They’ve been in the English Championship league for several years and have narrowly missed promotion 2 years in a row.

–Now if you’re all about respect for Cardiff traditions, bit o’ good news here. According to CJay, you can order the away Cardiff jersey -it’s Blue.

* Ok VERY IMPORTANT for Tavern goers to know: DO NOT WEAR Ki Sung-Yeung’s Swansea jersey when in Cardiff.  Now, why would you even be in Cardiff, other than stalking Kim Bo-Kyung, I don’t know, but Cardiff and Swansea are fierce Welsh rivals, so it’s a No-Go zone if you’re sporting anything Swansea related.  Obviously, no Welsh derby this year seeing Swansea is tabling high in the Premiere, unless they per-chance meet in FA Cup action.

Kim Bo-Kyung, warming up for Cardiff but no appearance v Wolves Sept 2. Photo thanks to BSK poster CJay.

Well it’s Friday nite/Saturday morn so we need a bit of music before closing the Tavern.  I was trying to decipher the meaning behind the Dirty Projector’s new mini-movie related to the release of their new album Swing Lo Swing Magellan. Art colliding with music, I didn’t figure it out, but interpretation is in the eye of the ear-holder. Good nite!

About Roy Ghim 403 Articles

The old Tavern Owner

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