In this memoir Barry tells us about a work college who would drone on about Liverpool FC until, that is, the day he revealed he was a true blue Valiant…
It was to be a short stint due to one of its officers proceeding to long service leave and I would be back at my own desk by early December. But by early December the Armadale manager had negotiated a further period through to February 1993.
Until this point in time, and for most of my previous sixteen years working in juvenile justice, I would be working alongside 50 plus other employees. Armadale, on the other hand, was the exact opposite with just 12 employees – a mix of social and youth workers. Their respective roles and responsibilities provided family and children’s support services to the local Armadale Court.
One of the social workers, a Liverpudlian, had his office adorned with all sorts of memorabilia from the Liverpool Football Club. He would rabbit on about Liverpool this, Liverpool that. Initially I would just listen. Then one day, almost as if he was bored with my just listening to him, he asked if being from the ‘old Dart I followed any particular team. What happened next will always remain indelible on my psyche.
The Liverpudlian was learning back in his chair and looking out of the window as if to give the impression that he couldn’t give a toss whether I did or didn’t and when I told him that I was a born and bred Port Vale second generation true blue Valiant of the Founding Fathers he just looked at me as though he didn’t understand my answer. But before he could respond another college had rushed into the room in noisy excitement announcing that he too was a Port Vale follower. By now the Mersey boy was absolutely gob-smacked and he would later tell us it stunned him to find two Valiants in such a small office so far away from the Potteries.
The man I’d been relieving for had just returned from long service leave and was working in the next office. He had been half listening to the droning voice of Liverpool man when the words Port Vale found him rushing into the room. He said he was from the Leek area the memory banks opened up when I told him I came from Bucknall. We grabbed a cup of coffee and began talking ten to the dozen about Cheddleton, Wetley Rocks & The Bunting, Cellarhead, Hanley, Hendon, Stockton Brook and Rudgyard. Our talkfest included Beresford, Proctor, Beckett, and PMT buses and of Beresford’s buses having a known reputation for breaking down – particularly in winter and especially when going up Ash bank.
We even talked of camping around and climbing the Roaches; of the kangaroos and other animals that roamed the area and which were said to have been released there from Manchester Zoo during WWII.
John Homer also said that approximately 100 years ago his ancestors occupied the Ivy House which, in turn, found us talking about more recent times in history and of how the stomach would reach for the throat when the double-deckers went down Limekiln bank and around the traffic island at the bottom. (Sometimes, I used to think we would end up in the timber yard next to the railway line opposite Bucknall Station.)
He went to say that at the time of immigrating to Oz he was working in Hanley and living in Hendon and that the decision to immigrate was made one winter’s night after it had taken four hours to drive home through thick fog and heavy traffic.
Then we reminisced about the time when the ‘Vale reached the FA Cup Semi Final in 1954 – only to lose to West Bromich Albion. By that time we must have been on our third cup of coffee and given our ‘Court duties were done for the day we just carried on talking.
What’s that? Oh the Liverpudlian. Well, he was conspicuous by his absence because by the time we were making another cuppa he had vacated his office – most probably cheesed off with us rabbiting on about Port Vale this, Port Vale that. We were totally engrossed to have noticed his departure.
August 6, 2004