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The Poxy Boggards and Sosban Fach
More Music from the World Famous Poxy Boggards
This is a Welsh nonsense song detailing trouble in the household. Yet it has an interesting history.From 1908 to 1914 Britain was in the grip of the “Great Unrest” as it became known. Industrial unrest gripped the island and Wales, with its steel and coal was at the forefront of these troubles. In the summer of 1911 a national railway strike almost paralyzed the country. Troops were called in to keep the trains running but in many cases this only escalated the situation.
Thursday, August 17th 1911, at a railway crossing in the town of Llanelli, a train was held up by protesters. The next day troops came to clear the line. Things got out of hand and two men were killed, Leonard Worsell and John John. Somewhere in the riot that caused the death of these two men, someone started singing “Sosban Fach” there was trouble in the household after all.Here are the words with my translation;
Mae bys Mari-Ann wedi brifo, A Dafydd y gwas ddim yn iach. Mae'r baban yn y crud yn crio, A'r gath wedi sgrapo Joni bach.
Sosban fach yn berwi ar y tân, Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr, A'r gath wedi sgrapo Joni bach.
Dai bach y sowldiwr, Dai bach y sowldiwr Dai bach y sowldiwr, A chwt ei grys e mas.
Mae bys Mari-Ann wedi gwella, A Dafydd y gwas yn ei fedd; Mae'r baban yn y crud wedi tyfu, A'r gath wedi huno mewn hedd.
Sosban fach yn berwi ar y tân Sosban fawr yn berwi ar y llawr A'r gath wedi huno mewn hedd.
Dai bach y sowldiwr, Dai bach y sowldiwr, Dai bach y sowldiwr, A chwt ei grys e mas
Mary-Ann has hurt her finger, And David the servant is un-well. The baby in the crib is crying, And the cat has scratched little Johnny.
A little saucepan is boiling on the fire, A big saucepan is boiling on the floor, And the cat has scratched little Johnny.
Little Dai the soldier, Little Dai the soldier, Little Dai the soldier, And his shirt tail is hanging out.
Mary-Ann's finger has got better, And David the servant is in his grave; The baby in the cradle has grown up, And the cat sleeps in peace.
A little saucepan is boiling on the fire, A big saucepan is boiling on the floor, And the cat sleeps in peace.
Little Dave the soldier, Little Dave the soldier, Little Dave the soldier And his shirt tail is hanging out
One subtle little point here. The chorus of “Dai bach y Sowldiwr” was added after the riot and refers to the soldiers being surprised by the rioters and not having time to dress properly. Hence the “Shirt tail hanging out” In Welsh the word for “Tail” is Cwt. In the chorus we usually sing it as “Chwt” this lenition of the first consonant renders it feminine. A subtle insult to the soldiers.
From that time on the song became associated with Llanelli. It was, and is, the theme song of the Scarletts the regional rugby team, and Llanelli Rugby Club. Heard in the pubs and on the sports fields it has become Llanelli’s battle cry.
The rugby goalposts of the Scarletts are topped by red saucepans and the official magazine of the Scarletts is titled “Sosban”
In the 70’s the Welsh folk singer and all round entertainer, Max Boyce used Sosban Fach as his theme song. He added the “Uggie” shout to the song. It caught on and now it is almost impossible to hear Sosban Fach without the Uggie shout at the end.
A personal note;
Living in Southern California these days I met and became friends with members of a Rennaissance singing group, the World famous Poxy Boggards. One of the members is Matt Cadwaladr. I taught him Sosban Fach and the group put their own unique style to the song. Now it is an often requested and popular item at their gigs.