Y Gêm - Gareth F. Williams

Updated: Feb 16

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Rhyfel. Cyfeillgarwch. Hiraeth. Pêl-droed.

War. Friendship. Longing. Football.


♥ ♥ Enillydd Gwobr Tir na n-Og 2015

Tir na n-Og Award Winner 2015 ♥ ♥

Genre: hanesyddol, rhyfel / historical, war

Gwerth addysgiadol/educational value: ◉◉◉◉◎

Negeseuon positif/positive messages: ◉◉◉◎◎

Themau trist,anodd/upsetting,tough themes: ◉◉◉◎◎

Trais, ofn/violence, scary: ◉◉◎◎◎

Iaith gref/language: ◉◎◎◎◎

Rhyw/sex: ◎◎◎◎◎

Her darllen/reading difficulty:: ◉◉◉◎◎

Dyfarniad/verdict: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Dyma stori bwerus sy’n adrodd hanes dau ffrind, Alun y Gelli a Tecwyn Tŷ’r Nant wrth iddyn nhw dyfu i fyny ym mhentref Nantfechan cyn ymuno â’r fyddin yng nghyfnod y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf. Nofel hanesyddol yw hon, gydag elfennau arswydus sy’n cynnwys nifer o gyfeiriadau at ffeithiau a digwyddiadau gwir. Mae’r awdur wedi plethu hyn yn feistrolgar gyda stori ffuglen am fywyd y ddau ffrind sy’n deimladwy iawn. Hwn yw’r chweched tro i Gareth F.Williams ennill Gwobr Tir na n-Og ac mae’n hawdd gweld pam.



Mae’r nofel wedi ei rhannu’n sawl ran. Yn gyntaf, clywn am ddiwrnod trawsnewidiol pan aeth y ddau ffrind i’r goedwig a dod ar draws hen dŷ arswydus. Digwyddodd rhywbeth brawychus yno wnaeth newid perthynas y ffrindiau gorau am byth.


Erbyn hyn, mae Alun yn hen ddyn, sy’n edrych yn ôl dros ei fywyd. Dyma sut rydym yn cael gwybod am fywyd yn y pentref yn arwain i fyny at y Rhyfel, ac yna, hagrwch ac erchylltra’r ffosydd yn Frelinghien, Ffrainc.

Yn dilyn digwyddiadau yn yr hen dŷ, fuodd ‘na fawr o Gymraeg rhwng y ddau eto. A dweud y gwir, gallwch fynd mor bell a dweud eu bod nhw bellach yn elynion, sy’n ddryswch mawr i’w ffrindiau agos.


Mae pêl-droed yn gefndir i’r stori, ac yn ogystal ag wynebu ei gilydd ar y cae pêl droed lleol, mae Alun a Tecs yn ffeindio’u hunain yng nghwmni ei gilydd eto yn y ffosydd. Tybed a all y ddau anghofio am helynt y gorffennol a bod yn gyfeillion unwaith eto? Mae’r ddau yn profi rhywbeth arbennig iawn ar ddiwrnod Nadolig 1914, mewn cadoediad byr rhwng y milwyr Prydeinig ac Almaenig lle stopiodd yr ymladd er mwyn dathlu’r wŷl a chael gêm gyfeillgar o bêl droed. Yn ddiweddar, mae hysbysebion Nadolig fel un Sainsbury’s wedi tynnu sylw at y digwyddiad nodedig yma.



Mae’r awdur yn trafod nifer o bethau pwysig fel y feirniadaeth gref o’r Gweinidog, Erasmus Williams, yn defnyddio ei statws yn y gymuned i recriwtio dynion ifanc i’r fyddin. Hefyd, mae cyfeiriad at yr arferiad dirmygadwy o roi pluen wen i fechgyn oedd wedi aros gartref er mwyn eu cywilyddio i ymuno â’r fyddin.


Roedd y bennod ‘Tadau’ yn emosiynol iawn wrth weld y dynion yn mynegi eu poen a’u hiraeth drwy fynd i lawr at y cae pêl droed gwag i weddïo dros eu meibion: “Lle wyt ti, ‘ngwas i? Lle uffarn wyt ti? Os na fyddai un ohonyn nhw yno’r Sadwrn hwnnw, gwyddai’r lleill fod ei holl weddïo wedi bod yn ofer, ac na fyddai ei hogyn yn dod adra i garlamu unwaith eto ar Gae Pen-rhos.” Grymus iawn ac yn dod a deigryn i’m llygaid.



Mae Gareth F. Williams yn disgrifio erchylltra’r ffosydd fel ac yr oedd, ac mae ambell i ddisgrifiad yn hynod o drawiadol: “ Y ‘nhw’ oedd y milwyr a orweddai allan yn Nhir Neb, wedi’u hanafu’n ddifrifol, yn galw am gymorth, yn crio am eu mamau, yn crefu am gael marw.”


Mae’n bosib fod y teitl yn cyfeirio at fwy na gêm syml o bêl droed, ond yn hytrach ‘y Gêm’ lle’r oedd y bobl mewn pŵer yn chwarae gyda bywydau’r dynion ifanc, yn eu cymell i ymladd ar faes y frwydr. Mewn gwirionedd, byddai wedi bod yn llawer gwell gan y bechgyn ifanc (o’r ddau ochr) chwarae gêm o ffwtbol a rhannu smôcs, na saethu ar ei gilydd. Dyna’r peth tristaf i gyd am yr holl beth.


Gareth F Williams yw fy hoff awdur Cymraeg, gan fod ei lyfrau mor bwerus, ond eto, mor ddarllenadwy hefyd. Tydi byth yn faich darllen ei waith a dwi’n gwybod mod i mewn dwylo saff wrth bigo un o’i nofelau.


Er mai oedran cynradd yw’r llyfr yma, mae o’n sicr yn fwy addas ar gyfer top yr Ysgol Gynradd neu efallai blynyddoedd cynnar yr Ysgol Uwchradd, heblaw bod arweiniad yr athro’n gallu bod o gymorth. Tydi’r iaith ddim yn anodd anodd, ond eto, mae angen rhywfaint o gymhwysedd darllen er mwyn gallu gwerthfawrogi’r nofel yn llawn.


A powerful story about the tale of two friends, Alun Y Gelli and Tecwyn Tŷ’r Nant as they grew up in the village of Nantfechan before joining the army during the First World War. This is a historical novel, with some ghostly elements that includes a number of references to true facts and events. The author has interwoven this masterfully with a poignant fictional story about the life of the two very close friends. It is the sixth time that Gareth F. Williams has won the Tir na n-Og Award and it's easy to see why.


The novel is divided into several parts. Firstly, we hear about a transformational day when the two friends ventured into the woods and happened upon an abandoned old house. Something frightening happened that changed their relationship forever.


Now, Alun is an old man, who looks back over his life. This is how we find out about life in the village leading up to the war, and then the awful conditions of the trenches in Frelinghien, France.


Following events in the old house, there had been bad blood between the two old friends. You could go so far and say that they are now enemies, which is a source of great confusion to his close friends.


Football is the backdrop to the story, and as well as facing each other on the local football pitch, Alun and Tecs find themselves in each other's company once again in the trenches. I wonder if the two can forget about the past and become friends once again? The two experience something very special on Christmas Day 1914, in a short armistice between the British and German troops where the fighting stopped in order to celebrate. The day is remembered for the friendly game of football and exchange of gifts between the two sides. Recently, Christmas adverts such as Sainsbury's have highlighted this landmark event.



The author discusses a number of important things such as the strong criticism of the minister, Erasmus Williams, using his community status to recruit young men into the army. There is also a reference to the despicable practice of giving boys that had stayed at home a white feather in order to shame them into joining the army.


The chapter ‘Tadau’ [fathers] was very emotional as the men left behind expressed their pain and longing by going down to the empty football pitch to pray for their sons. It was clear that the fathers who did not return to the pitch the following week had lost their sons, and they would never again play football on the fields.


Gareth F. Williams describes the horrors of the trenches as they were. A few descriptions are remarkably harrowing such as that of the wounded soldiers lying in bits on no-man’s land, crying for their mothers and begging to die.



It is possible that the title refers to more than a simple game of football, but rather 'the game' is likely to be the war itself, where the people in power (and relative safety and comfort) played with young men's lives, compelling them to fight on the battlefield. In fact, the young lads (from both sides) would have much preferred playing a game of footy and sharing a few cigarettes together rather than killing each other. That is all the saddest thing about the whole thing; such a waste. It reminds me of the quote by Herbert Hoover; “Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die.”


Gareth F Williams is my favourite Welsh writer, as his books are powerful and compelling, yet, so utterly readable as well. I know I’m in safe hands when picking up one of his novels.


Although the book is for primary school age, it is certainly more suited to the upper end of the primary school or maybe the early years of secondary school. Teacher guidance could help with younger readers I suppose. The language isn’t hugely difficult, but again, a certain level of reading competence/ability is required in order to be able to fully appreciate the novel.

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