We’d walk to see our Heroes

Barry Edge’s latest poem looks back on the days of journeying to Vale Park to see his heroes play…

This poem is more about me and five mates, a motley bunch to say the least, and the journeys’ to and from Vale Park to see our heroes – Tommy Cheadle, Reg Potts, Basil Hayward, Albert Leake, Roy Sproson, plus my all time Port Vale hero John (Dickie) Cunliffe aka ‘The Lad from Wigan Pier’.

We lived variously around the Abbey and Bucknall and attended the same school – Townsend Primary in Werrington Road. In hindsight I can honestly say that we would never have repeated our first journey to see our heroes but for the serendipitous experience in 1954.

So, if you’ve got a few spare minutes pull up a chair and I’ll tell you our story.

We’d walk to see our Heroes

We’d start out early morning to walk to Vale Park
In weather fair or foul and sometimes it was dark,
We’d all meet-up in Bucknall then slowly make our way
And the bus fares that were saved we spent later in the day

Our journey to the Hamil would always be the same –
Up Hanley through to Far Green then Chell Street to High Lane,
T’was a journey with a purpose – Far Green a snappin’ stop
And further up in Chell Street refreshing ‘Burton’s Pop’

Now Billy’s aunt and uncle lived in Hulton Street, Far Green
And that was where we waited for the snappin’ he would glean,
And every time his lovely aunt this message she did send
“I’ve put in extra sandwiches ‘cus to me those lads look clemmed”

Just before we reached Sneyd Green we’d make our second stop
Across the road from Burton’s – the home of ‘Proper Pop’,
‘Twas there that Billy’s uncle would organise for us
The Dandelion and Burdock with its fresh and fizzy rush

We’d talk about our heroes – Valiant men true blue,
Cheadle, Potts and Hayward, Leake and Sproson too,
And every time we’d say their names we’d raise our arms and cheer
With mine the loudest of them all for a ‘Lad from Wigan Pier

‘Twas always from the Hamil End where we would see the game
And sometimes we could barely see through fog and falling rain,
But we were mates together no matter what the score
Nor did we make a fuss should we lose a game or draw

Our journey back to Hanley was on the loop line rail
We’d make our way to Old Hall Street – the next stop in my ‘Tale,
Across the road from Charles Street in a Sweet Shop we would spend
Some of our saved-up bus fares on bags of ‘Penny Blend’

We’d put away most of our sweets – except our ‘Penny Sticks’
‘Cus at the top of Ivy House we’d buy some fish and chips,
We’d make our way to Limekiln Bank with our teatime feasts
But as soon as they were eaten we’d tuck into our sweets

We’d start to go our separate ways when reaching Fellbrook Lane
But not before we promised to do it all again –
To walk to see our heroes in the same way as before
Plus fizzy pop, fish and chips, sweets and much, much more

Barry Edge
Western Australia
July 15, 2016