When I lived in London I’d spend many hours on the train back to Cardiff, my eventual destination being Cardiff Arms Park. In the nineties it was the National Stadium, and then in the 2000s it was the Millennium Stadium. But it’s always been, and always will be, Cardiff Arms Park, in spite of what the WRU may have you believe.
I just happened to be on a train back to Cardiff this afternoon as I read Bill O’Keefe and Emyr Young’s history of those legendary acres next to the Taff, “Cardiff Arms Park, Heart of a Rugby Nation,” and it occurred to me that the disappearance of the CAP prefix may be more than just co-incidence.
Cardiff Blues have recently returned to the Arms Park to play a couple of games against Irish provinces, some say in response to pressure from fans for a return to the spiritual home of Cardiff RFC. I was at the first of those two games, against Connacht, and it strikes me that the Arms Park needs to continue as a sporting venue, as its original owners, the Bute family, intended back in the nineteenth century.
O’Keefe and Young’s book is bursting with photos and pictures of the Arms Park throughout its history, and it tells a story not only of a famous place, but of the important role rugby has played in the history of the Welsh nation.
It would be a great shame if the Arms Park name was lost altogether, and rugby fans of all persuasions who are in any doubt as to the value and significance of the name should take a look at this book. One of the finest gentlemen ever to wear the famous blue and black jersey, T G R Davies Esq., puts it much better than me in the postscript:
“The very sound of it ["National Stadium"] lacks warmth, cold and impersonal like a government department acting to nationalise a successful enterprise. It is bland and unevocative, and curiously anonymous and not in keeping with a country which seeks identity and where people are characteristically parochial, sharp and colourful, aware of the image and the undying tradition.”
As the authors point out, Gerald could be referring to regional rugby and the WRU. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you agree.