Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Monday, 4 May 2009 10:16 UK

Stadium roof's piece of history

By Kevin Leonard
BBC News website

Wales v Scotland in 1962 (Picture: Media Wales)
The Captain Morgan Rum advert adorned the Bob Bank for over 40 years

Ninian Park has many claims to fame over its 99-year history from unforgettable European victories to hosting a visit from the Pope.

But one of its less celebrated achievements was to boast the longest-standing advert on a stadium roof in the football league.

The Captain Morgan Rum advert became a well-loved feature of the ground after adorning the Bob Bank roof for more than 40 years.

Any Cardiff City supporter over a certain age will recall with affection the words: "Captain Morgan Rum - the right rum for today's taste".

It was a bit like the Bob Bank toilets - it was one of those features that you associate with Ninian Park!
Vince Alm, Cardiff City Supporters' Club

The rum brand certainly had value for money because the advert, which took up to two weeks to paint, proudly overlooked famous events such as Cardiff City's victory over Real Madrid in 1971 and the late Pope John Paul II's visit in 1982.

It was finally painted over before the 2001-02 season with an advert for the discount retailer Hyper Value.

Cardiff City historian Richard Shepherd said: "The roof [of the Bob Bank] was built in the summer of 1958 and was left blank until the summer of 1960 when the advert went on.

"I don't know whether Captain Morgan Rum paid for the advert for 42 years! I think its time ran out but the club didn't get rid of it.

"It was the longest-serving advert on a stand roof in the football league."

Mr Shepherd recalls its appearance changed somewhat over the years as the Cardiff weather took its toll on the paintwork.

Wales v Yugoslavia at Ninian Park
The Captain Morgan Rum advert on the Bob Bank after a Wales game in 1976

"The chemicals in the paint made the paint change colour over the years. I think it started as maroon," he said.

The rum also had a direct link with the city itself because it was named after Sir Henry Morgan, a 17th century adventurer who was thought to be born in a village which is now a suburb of Cardiff - Llanrumney.

Sometimes called a pirate, he made his name in the Caribbean trying to secure trade routes to the New World.

Vince Alm, of Cardiff City Supporters' Club, remembers the old advert with affection.

"It was part of the structure, it was part of Ninian Park. When I was a kid, whenever I saw a bottle of rum, I thought of Ninian Park," he said.

"I think quite a few of us were quite sad when it disappeared.

"It was a bit like the Bob Bank toilets - it was one of those features that you associate with Ninian Park!"

Stan Mills, 77, from Cardiff, is a commercial artist who helped paint roof adverts on Ninian Park's stands.

Sweeping brush

"You would chalk the outline of the letters or, if you were working with a light colour, you would use charcoal," he said.

"When you're doing sign work, you would use a red sable brush [to apply the paint] but they only go up to an inch wide so on a stand we would use a sweeping brush.

"You would get run off so then you would come out with your two-inch brush to get rid of the run."

Mr Mills, who still occasionally works as an artist, said the team would paint the roof of the stand without any form of safety harness.

"There would be a scaffold going up giving you a platform along the bottom, but there would be nothing on the roof itself," he said.

"In the modern day, you would have something attached to you in case you fell but we had nothing of that nature."

Ninian Park hosted its final Cardiff City game against Ipswich last month.

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