Yma o hyd – We are still here

Yma o hyd

As you are no doubt learning, the World Cup will soon be upon us. England and Wales will both be there. Scotland won’t (again!).

As with many World Cup squads, Wales have their own song. Usually this is some poppy crap, fronted by some “pop star” whose career is on the wane. We have had more than our fair share of this. This link will take you to this year’s Wales squad song, “yma o hyd”,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43Fag8ZQcz4.

What does it all mean you wonder. Well wonder no more.

Yma o Hyd lyrics in full

Dwyt ti’m yn cofio Macsen

Does neb yn ei nabod o

Mae mil a chwe chant o flynyddoedd

Yn amser rhy hir i’r co’

Pan aeth Magnus Maximus o Gymru

Yn y flwyddyn tri-chant-wyth-tri

A’n gadael yn genedl gyfan

A heddiw: wele ni!

(You don’t remember Macsen,

nobody knows him.

One thousand and six hundred years,

a time too long to remember.

When Magnus Maximus left Wales,

in the year 383,

leaving us a whole nation,

and today – look at us!)

Ry’n ni yma o hyd

Ry’n ni yma o hyd

Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth

Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth

Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth

Ry’n ni yma o hyd

Ry’n ni yma o hyd

Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth

Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth

Er gwaetha pawb a phopeth

Ry’n ni yma o hyd

We are still here,

we are still here,

in spite of everyone and everything,

in spite of everyone and everything,

in spite of everyone and everything.

We are still here,

we are still here,

in spite of everyone and everything,

in spite of everyone and everything,

in spite of everyone and everything.

We are still here.)

Chwythed y gwynt o’r Dwyrain

Rhued y storm o’r môr

Hollted y mellt yr wybren

A gwaedded y daran encôr

Llifed dagrau’r gwangalon

A llyfed y taeog y llawr

Er dued yw’r fagddu o’n cwmpas

Ry’n ni’n barod am doriad y wawr!

(Let the wind blow from the East,

let the storm roar from the sea,

let the lightning split the heavens,

and the thunder shout “encore!”

Let the tears of the faint-hearted flow,

and the servile lick the floor.

Despite the blackness around us,

we are ready for the breaking of the dawn!)

Cofiwn i Facsen Wledig

Adael ein gwlad yn un darn

A bloeddiwn gerbron y gwledydd

Mi fyddwn yma tan Ddydd y Farn!

Er gwaetha pob Dic Siôn Dafydd

Er gwaetha ‘rhen Fagi a’i chriw

Byddwn yma hyd ddiwedd amser

A bydd yr iaith Gymraeg yn fyw!

(We remember that Macsen the Emperor

left our country in one whole piece.

And we shall shout before the nations,

“We’ll be here until Judgement Day!”

Despite every Dic Siôn Dafydd,

despite old Maggie and her crew,

we’ll be here until the end of time,

and the Welsh language will be alive!)

Clearly, very difficult to avoid the nationalist overtones of all this, both culturally and politically. You can just imagine the SFA putting something even remotely like this out. Can’t you? No, me neither.

Nor is it just the Welsh FA, as the players are behind this. The person who championed the piece to the FAW and the squad was Chris Gunter, a full back born in Newport who has played for his country 109 times, and mainly for good Championship sides (Reading, Charlton, Cardiff). The rest of the squad and management are behind it as well. This https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8myOjzAMS6c is at the end of their successful game against the Ukraine when they qualified for the World Cup.

So, as Ifan Morgan Jones writes (https://nation.cymru/opinion/why-the-faws-epic-yma-o-hyd-video-is-a-brave-and-controversial-take-on-what-it-means-to-be-welsh/) the song is “brave”, and “controversial”. As above, you can hardly miss the nationalist content. You can just imagine if the Scotland squad had done anything like this. Murdo Fraser and Stephen Kerr could easily have spontaneously combusted with outrage at politics intruding into sport – or at least, “this” kind of politics. As for Anas and Jackie Baillie …..

FAW could, as Jones points out, have released a recording of the song – fronted by a reliable singer or two, got the squad in somewhere, and maybe the crowd singing (it’s this year’s “Don’t take me home”) and left it at that. But there is extensive footage of the treatment of the miners over the years, the role of the Police, miners being imprisoned etc.

However, as Jones writes, “they have fully embraced the overtly political vision behind Dafydd Iwan’s song, and all the layers of meaning and interpretation of Welsh history that come along with it.” Moreover, its not actually a new song. It was written by Iwan in the 1980s and has always been seen as anti-establishment. And remains so!

Jones’ view of the video is that it “tells two stories – that of the Welsh football team’s 64-year journey to qualify for a World Cup and that of a Welsh nation coming into existence.

It also asks us to see similarities there. They have both struggled against the odds. They have both had their setbacks. But they have both ultimately triumphed despite that.” Yma o hyd – we’re still here,

But that of course is not the whole package. During an appearance on “A League of Their Own”, Michael Sheen was cornered by Ranganathan to do a “rousing speech” for the Welsh squad. He didn’t disappoint. If you haven’t seen this already, get the tissues in place. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fpV0OFC0vc. I still tear up watching it and I have watched it SO many times. If I were Robert Page (Welsh team manager) I would have Sheen booked up for the duration of the tournament. Quick blast of Yma o Hyd, followed by two minutes with Michael and I wouldn’t like to be standing in front of them.

Of course, none of this will bring independence to Wales (nor, for those wondering about it, do I think Wales will win the World Cup. I’ll be happy if they see off England. There is never a substitute for ability – but don’t discount motivation either). Any more than it would bring independence to us, if we had an equivalent. But then, there probably is no one single thing that is going to bring independence – it’s an accumulation of things. The argument you hear from some people that under BoJo support for independence didn’t grow, ignores two things.

First of all, that support seldom follows a straight line. It might be incremental – a wee bit more and then another wee bit more – but it’s seldom a straight line. Secondly it ignores the possibility that there is no one thing that on its own causes a significant change of mind, but each of them causes the dominant view – eg Unionism – to be less secure. Each thing doesn’t cause a change in mind, but by loosening adherence to the dominant view, it could just take one more, even relatively small, thing to happen for an attitude to undergo significant change. My own sense is that this is true for Scottish independence, among “soft” No voters.  The insensitivity, incompetence, and even the utter venality of Westminster must surely contribute to this, and at some point give us quantum change where support for independence is what is normal and needs no justification any more. Rather it’s staying yoked to an insensitive, incompetent, and venal government that knows little of us and cares less.

Wales, though, is interesting in that their First Minister Mark Drakeford – leaving to one side how crap his govt might be at running their NHS – has been at least as critical as Nicola Sturgeon about the doings of Westminster. Drakeford is on record as saying that the Union has become dysfunctional. If it cannot be made functional – and all the signs are that a Sunak government, like Johnson’s before him, has a centralising agenda. What does Drakeford do then?

It is, for me anyway, an interesting thought that Drakeford has gone off London Labour message so often that it’s something of a surprise he’s still there. Drakeford goes off message https://talkingupscotlandtwo.com/2021/10/13/drakeford-slightly-at-odds-with-sarwar/ in a way that Anas never ever would.

Perhaps it could have something to do with the Welsh people liking him. This https://www.thenational.wales/news/19866264.anti-boris-johnson-mark-drakeford-popular-wales/ is a good example, but what does Starmer do about it? Sure, politics has a life of its own, but it is still ultimately rooted in the community, and God help the politician (eg Liz Truss) who forgets this.

Meantime, national identity, if not nationalism, laps further up the Welsh shore with the proposal that their national teams are referred to as Cymru (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/63456797). What does Welsh Labour do about that? How about Alba for us?

One last thing that I wasn’t able to work in beforehand. Replay this, and go to 2 minutes 16 secs – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43Fag8ZQcz4 – it’s Roughie fisting a net bound John Toshack shot on to the top (or maybe even the face) of the bar – Anfield 77. Suck it up boys!


10 thoughts on “Yma o hyd – We are still here

  1. Wales are undoubtedly on a journey–a journey of hope, while we in Scotland are stuck in a quagmire of fear.
    Fear dumped on our heads daily by a colonial media.
    Fear dumped on our heads by the treacherous British nationalists who infest our lives.
    Time for those of us who believe in independence to stand up and shout about SCOTLAND.

    SCOTLAND was Yr Hen Ogledd–the Old North and was Welsh speaking from north to south and east to west.

    SCOTLAND was home to BARDS Taliesen and Aneirin.

    SCOTLAND was home to Arthur, Urien, Owain, Peredur, Merlin and many others of Arthurian legend.

    SCOTLAND was the home to the royal dynasty of Cunedda who became rulers in Wales.

    Scotland has a vast and deep history, totally ignored by the Anglo-centric BBC, and other cultural frauds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Scotland was home to those things, but I think Yr Hen Ogledd was mainly the part of Scotland south of the Forth/Clyde line so included Alt Clut (Alt Clud), which is usually referred to these days as Strathclyde (the Gaelic derived name). North of that line you had the Picts and Dalriada (the Gaels) and neither spoke old Welsh (old Briton?).


      1. I think most “experts” ( which I am not) would accept the confederation of Celtic tribes, that the Romans later dubbed “Picts”, spoke a form of a Brythonic language related to Welsh.
        I agree that Scotlands western seaboard was Gaelic, but we should also recall that the “Picts” and Irish allies led the “barbarian conspiracy” which led them to temporary control of the Roman province of Britain.
        Was Hadrians wall built to contain southern Britons escaping north as well as preventing raids to the south?
        Ditto the Antonine wall.
        If the north became overcrowded, it might explain the ability of the “Picts” to mount such a successful invasion of “Roman Britain”.


  2. Thanks for the translation. I’d not heard of the song before but will definitely check it out online. Like you I can’t imagine the SFA doing anything remotely similar. I hope Wales do well, although I have very mixed feelings about Qatar as a location.


  3. “Of course, none of this will bring independence to Wales” well obviously not, how could it when there’s nothing at all about what currency they’d use?


    1. On its own, it wont. By the 25th of next month, it will be Christmas. The dogs will have barked and the caravan will have moved on, and while this might not be forgotten, it will become part of the past (again – the song’s 40 years old).
      I actually agree with you about the banality of “what currency will you use?”. My own approach comes in the following paragraph that begins “First of all, that support seldom follows a straight line”. What I was trying to say there was that support seldom changes dramatically – it might go up a bit, or down a bit. It might go up for a while, then it will reverse. But more importantly there is no one reason that will win independence – that is true for all the reasons that each of us might have to support independence, and for each of us as individuals. I dont know what your motivation for independence is, but I would bet it’s different from mine (not better/worse or right/wrong – just different).
      As I noted about, there is little evidence that having BoJo in Downing Street increased the number who will vote Yes. But what did it do to the average No voter’s support for the Union, even if it didnt change them from No to Yes? Did they support No as much or less? Was their support still as strong? If it wasnt then subsequently changing their mind from No to Yes, is easier. For a lot of people the primary achievement has to be not about changing their minds, but about giving them reasons to move to a situation where we can change their mind. And it seems to me that yma o hyd is a good example of getting Unionists in Wales to consider their part in the current Union – or put another way, the importance of Wales for them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry, but to be frank, NO ONE SHOULD BE THERE. It is beyond abhorrent that FIFA agreed to hold it in a country where many of us, I include myself in that number, cannot be safe setting foot in it! Anyone who believes FIFA’s assurance that LGBT+ couples will not face arrest while holding hands or kissing in public in Qatar has a lot less knowledge of Qatar’s record of brutality and less experience at police coming up with excuses to attack gay couples. It is absolutely shameful that FIFA did this.


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