Cardiff and the Belgian Nobel Prize winner

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Football News
Every Cardiff fan worth his salt, and most football followers in general, will know that the club nickname is ‘The Bluebirds’ and that the club badge carries the image of the said bird.

But very few it seems know how this came to be the Welsh club’s symbol and nickname.

Various suggestions have been put forward - but the following seems to be the one that carries most weight.

The club's roots date back to the year 1899 and the Riverside Cricket Club. A disabled lithographer, originally from Bristol, named Bart Wilson was the driving force behind the formation of a football club to be known as Riverside FC.

Riverside FC played initially in chocolate and amber and the nickname ‘Bluebirds’ became just one of a few names used - The Cardiffians, The City and The Citizens, were the others, after the club changed its colours to blue sometime around 1910.

So where did the name bluebirds spring from? Well it seems from a most unlikely source but still a most fascinating one.

In 1908 the Belgian poet, writer and symbolist playright Maurice Maetrelink (he was to later received the Nobel Prize for literature) wrote a play in French called L'Oiseau Bleu (in English the Blue Bird). It is a fairy story in which a pair of peasant children, Mytyl and her brother Tyltyl, are led on a magical quest for the fabulous Blue Bird of Happiness by the Fairy Berylune.

On their journey, they are accompanied by the humanised presences of a Dog, a Cat, Light, Fire, Bread, and other entities.

The play came to be performed at the New Theatre, Cardiff in late October 1911 and received good reviews during its six-night run and a week after the production had left town.

(The play was twice later made into Hollywood movies - the first in 1940 starring Shirley Temple after she failed to get the part of Dorothy in The wizard of Os, and the second in 1976 starring Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Fonda. Neither had much success in the box office.)

No positive proof exists, but it would seem probable that the publicity surrounding the play's arrival in the Welsh capital and then Maeterlinck's Nobel Prize honour led to an unknown Cardiff City supporter deciding to call the team, resplendent in their blue strip, 'The Blue Birds'.

Gradually, it emerged as the favourite nickname before being adopted officially by the club. And the rest as they say is history - Bluebirds it became!

Anyway, whatever doubts might surround the origin of the name, right now The Bluebirds are perched right at the top of the tree - on either side of The Rangers and The Tractor Boys.

And this Saturday - it's another home game - against Hull and here’s hoping the momentum from league wins against Derby, Doncaster and Portsmouth will carry the Bluebirds soaring ever higher

The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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