Tomorrow will be a landmark day with the unveiling of the Fred Keenor statue at the Cardiff City Stadium – more than two years after the appeal to raise £85,000 was launched
Carla Shore and Yassin Mohamed, pupils from Fred’s old school, Stacey in Roath, have been given the honour of unveiling the tribute to the captain of the Bluebirds’ 1927 FA Cup winning team and the Wales national side before tomorrow’s Hull City game.
The fundraising appeal was officially launched on April 23rd, 2010 – the 83rd anniversary of the 1927 win, the only time the famous trophy has been taken out of England – after Roger Andrews of Llantwit Major was chosen by fans as the statue artist.
Supporters and the club quickly got behind the appeal – football matches were organised, bucket collections were held, marathons were run and £1 was added to ticket prices for fans travelling by coach to Cardiff City’s Carling Cup Final clash with Liverpool. Entertainer Frank Hennessy also offered his services free of charge in a fundraising event at the stadium.
Cardiff council quickly pledged £15,000 for the tribute to honour a Welsh sporting icon, the Welsh Government later chipped in £5,000 and then the appeal total of £85,000 was reached when Cardiff City Football Club and the Football Association of Wales agreed between them to meet the remaining £14,000 needed.
David Craig, project manager of the appeal and a member of Cardiff City Supporters’ Trust board, said: “This is a very proud moment for everyone connected with the appeal. We’re so grateful for those that have helped turn the dream of a tribute to Fred into a reality.
“Fred was a true working class hero who achieved so much at a time when footballers did not earn the riches of those top modern day players. He had a wonderful career for club and country despite being badly injured in the horrific Battle of the Somme.
“Donations from large organisations were very important to the success of the appeal but the generosity of ordinary fans who got behind the appeal was crucial. We received large individual donations of up to £500 and young children even chipped in their pocket money. We’d also like to the staff of Cardiff City for their fantastic support, This really was a community-led effort which reached its target despite the very difficult economic times.
“I’d also like to pay tribute to the small band of members of the fundraising committee who gave up many, many hours of their own time to organise events. It was a great team effort.”
This statement was received from Cardiff council on the eve of the unveiling.
Councillor Huw Thomas, Cabinet member for Sport, Leisure and Culture, said: “Cardiff City’s 1927 FA Cup win is deeply ingrained in the rich sporting folklore of the city and people remain rightly proud of that achievement to this day. It is very fitting the captain of that great side will be honoured with a statue at the new stadium where the club go from strength to strength. He wasn’t just a legendary Cardiff captain, Fred Keenor was also a war hero who was wounded at the Somme in World War I so I am doubly proud that the council has contributed to this handsome statue. This permanent monument will inspire generations of football fans and is the least he deserves.”