Lifelong Cardiff City supporter, James Fox, who was the writer and performer of the club’s top twenty hit ‘Bluebirds Flying High’ which he penned to celebrate The Bluebirds 2008 appearance in the FA Cup final, is the face and voice behind this year’s official Poppy appeal single ‘Landlocked’, which the Royal British Legion (RBL) hopes will top the charts in time for Remembrance Sunday.
Singer-songwriter Fox, 36, has been a season ticket holder and regular face at Bluebird games both home and away, ever since his father, Richard, first took him to see the team play when he was six. Just as his Dad had taken him before,.
James was instantly hooked and begged to go to the next game. He has never looked back and was chosen as a mascot later that season – He’s also twice had the honour to turn out in Cardiff City’s colours.
Football is still a family affair for Fox, he can be found at most home games sitting with his Mum Tina and older brother Dean, “She acts as my minder” Fox jokes “She’s amazing, very knowledgeable and she keeps us all in check, she doesn’t like swearing and isn’t shy of saying so, its quite something everyone around us watching their P’s and Q’s then apologising if anything slips out.
The annual poppy appeal’s official single ‘Landlocked’ came about because of Fox’s work for The Combined Services Entertainment branch of British Forces Broadcasting Service, which he’s had the privilege to work for, singing for the British Troops on active service for some twelve years,
“Basically everywhere there’s British military stationed, I’ve pretty much been, On ships in the middle of the Atlantic, The Falkland Islands, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus, Iraq, and nine tours of Afghanistan,” Fox said.
“The conditions in Afghanistan are pretty grim we’re only there for ten, eleven days and you try not to complain, because the guys and girls out there are facing a six months tour, the last thing they want is someone that’s been there three days moaning on about how sandy it is and the things they are missing.”
“In my case aside from loved ones, I miss the football scores, at home I’ve been known to take my mobile on stage with me and check the Cardiff City twitter feed while I’m playing, but especially in Afghanistan obviously that’s not an option.”
“Luckily they’ve got to know me now and its a standing joke they have to keep me updated with the Bluebirds score, one gig right on the frontline they radioed back to Camp Bastion for the result, I was halfway thought the gig when It struck me they may have told me The City had won to get a few more encores out of me!”
“Typical football fan the first thing I said when I was greeted on arriving back home was to ask …Did we really win 4-0 ?’
It didn’t make me very popular they’d been worrying and wanted to know I was ok.
“It was on one such trip to the front line in Afghanistan during a conversation with one of the soldiers after a show, he felt he needed to find a way to help in a more practical far-reaching way.”
“Some of the guys will suddenly open up to you, and you realise that aside from the incredibly difficult and dangerous job they are doing they have the same worries and problems the rest of us have, with the added pressure of not being able to fix things in person – I’ve also played at Headley Court on several occasions and that’s a very humbling experience the way the guys and girls there are, their attitude in the face of what’s happened to them.”
”I’ve been lucky enough to play at the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall twice, so know of the sort of support The Royal British Legion give and the struggles they have to fund that. They spend £1.7m a week on care and support for not only the soldiers, but their families too, for things as wide-ranging as employment advice, emotional support, covering the costs of ongoing specialist medical treatment, care homes and family breaks.”
On his return home Fox began the process of getting ‘Landlocked’ together calling on a favour from a friend, Sunderland A.F.C supporter, Sir Tim Rice whom Fox roped in to help with the lyrics and the project quickly came together.
Faced with the matter of road testing the song, it had to be for the people that mattered the most – the troops – because the song is not only written in aid of the RBI, but also from the British soldiers’ perspective. Fox chose to do that in the only place fitting – out in the field in Afghanistan with them…
“We played it to the troops and when we finished you could have heard a pin drop. Some were a bit teary and teased me saying it was ‘one for the girls’, but all the proceeds go to the Poppy Appeal and we really just want to raise as much money as possible.”
On Saturday November 10th Fox will be at Cardiff City Stadium to watch the Bluebirds take on Hull, he will also be performing Landlocked live during the half time interval which means, he’s been fortunate enough in his career to play at the old Ninian Park ground and the new Cardiff City stadium both as a player and as a musician.
Landlocked is available now to download now at iTunes, All proceeds go to the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal