I Was Adopted by Port Vale

Exiled Valiant Barry Edge lives in Perth, Western Australia and is a regular columnist for onevalefan. He has previously illuminated both Sean Ryan’s and Paul T Vale’s stories as to the how, what, where and why they are Valiants. In his latest verse he celebrates David@Preston’s story – our very own ‘adopted son from Dagenham’.


I Was Adopted by Port Vale

We met him on the message board
Of Fielding’s onevalefan
And he tells us he’s as true blue
As any Valiant man,
He’s originally from Dagenham
Near ‘Old London Town’
But didn’t support those fancy clubs
From the ‘Ancient Crown’.

Though he lived just fourteen miles
From the Seat of Government,
His football heart went north
To a town in Stoke-on-Trent
And was adopted by Port Vale
At a very early age
When West Ham, Spurs and Chelsea
For his peers were all the rage,

Where is this ‘Club they call Port Vale?
And was he ‘Barking’ mad
To need to be a part of us
When he was just a lad?
It’s far away from all that sprawl
That stretches endlessly
From the heart of London
To Southend by the sea.

With his soul in restless torment
He continued with his ‘Quest,
For until he knew the answer
He could not let it rest,
Then, as children often do,
He pestered to despair
With pleas and many tantrums,
For his dad to take him there.

Driving home from Blackpool
One fine and sunny day
He asked his folks to detour
Through the Potteries Way
So he could catch a glimpse
Of the ‘Wembley of the North’,
But his wish was never granted
And simply came to nought.

David kept the pressure on
And, according to his tale,
His persistence won the day
When taken to Port Vale,
It was an Easter game in Burslem
Back in nineteen sixty-two
And against the Brentford ‘Bees
Where his hopes and dream came true.

Clutching his match day programme
He was feeling kind of swish,
Then when the Valiant’s won two-one
It was really double bliss,
He’s still got that football souvenir
It’s a source of pride and joy
To remind him of that special day
When he was just a boy.

David sent a letter,
Old programmes was his need
To learn about his ‘family’
And bring him up to speed,
Armed with his special cargo
He took them to his school,
Which almost left him red faced
And looking like a fool.

Now every schoolyard had one
Who threw their weight about
By shouting in your face
And acting like a lout,
The one that Dave remembers
Was a ‘snotty type’ and big
Who pinched his Port Vale programmes
When he was just a kid.

As schoolyard bullies go
To leave them be was wise,
But not on that occasion
Dave wanted back his ‘prize’,
So a physical attack,
plus several heavy blows
Left the thug bemused and shocked
With a very bloodied nose.

Our hero was well pleased
He’d got his programmes back,
And the bully kept his distance
From our ‘true blue’ after that,
But there’s a permanent reminder
Of all that ‘fuss and bovver’
Because one of David’s souvenirs
Has a bloodstain on its cover.

The only other Port Vale games
Our David did attend
Were the times we played away
At Watford, ‘Palace and Southend,
Then in season sixty-three
To the surprise of Valiant fans
Our adopted boy from Dagenham Town
Came home to Valiant land.

He knew that he was welcome
From the very start
Because the Burslem friendliness
Came from each and every heart,
He remembers the old loop line
And how the hilly countryside
Was different to his Essex home
That seemed so flat and wide.

He remembers Roy Sproson
And Albert Cheeseborough too,
Ken Hancock, Jackie Mudie
To name but just a few,
And how our league position
Needed just a little luck
Similar to the kind enjoyed
In the F.A. Cup.

Then there was that replay
In nineteen sixty-four
Against the mighty Liverpool
In the third round of the draw,
He’d saved his pocket money
And told a pack of lies,
It was ‘Burslem here I come
And save me some Wright’s pies’.

He was going to bunk off school
For that would do no harm,
Then something that he did
Must have sounded an alarm,
But what that something was
He really does not know,
For his parents got the wind of it
And would not let him go.

In hindsight they were right
Although it caused him pain,
With the big crowd in the Hamil
There was turmoil at the game,
But even if he’d gone
His plan was rather mad
For he hadn’t thought how he’d get home
To his mum and dad.

It was over forty years ago,
Or was it yesterday?
The first time that our David
Saw Port Vale play,
These days he lives in Preston
Where Tom Finney made his mark,
And barring work commitments
You will see him at Vale Park.

Barry Edge
Western Australia
June 25, 2003


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