This story was first published on onevalefan in 2003 – just before we changed to a new hosting facility. Unfortunately, and for reasons Rob and yours truly cannot explain, Chris’ story was not archived for future reference.
So Chris Simpson, whilst we do apologise for not archiving your story along with other ovf stuff, we take great pleasure in redressing that error.
Oh, and by the way, we hope Leila and Pamela enjoy reading about your ‘Reunion with them 🙂
In that regard I’m no different to the majority. But as long as I have breath in my body, and my mental faculties remain sound, there is one date and occasion that will remain forever indelible on my psyche. What’s more, it rates equal to all that is held dear to me.
March 27, 2003 is a very special ‘red letter’ day for me; it was the day I had dreamed of and hoped for over twelve long, and at times, miserable years; it was the day I finally came face to face with my long lost twin daughters; and although I had not seen them for so many years, I had so many fond and loving reminders of them.
Where to begin? What to tell you? You know, my heart is still racing and my mind still spinning from that beautiful encounter and dizzy experience – from its apprehensive beginning, to its giddy, but delicious happening.
Friends, dreams do come true. They really do. And if you will indulge me for a few moments I would like to share my special day with everyone on ovf.
It’s strange how the who, what, where and why trigger past events, how a chance meeting with an old friend or acquaintance takes you rushing down memory lane to see if people and places are still as they were, or changed for better or worse. Even a stranger can evoke memories and emotions that have lain dormant over time.
There I was on Boxing Day 2002 enjoying a pre-match drink in the Vale pub with the other ovf regulars when a ‘blast from the past’ greeted me with the words ‘How are you mate?’ A friend? An acquaintance? Perhaps a stranger? I thought I recognised the man. But wasn’t quite sure. ‘I ain’t seen you in ages. I can remember when you bought your twin girls into the pub with their little Vale shirts on…’ his voice falling silent when he realised I had become distracted by other matters. And distracted I was, in the nicest way possible – tinged with a little sadness. I was down memory lane circa 1990.
Was that yesterday? Or a million years ago? No matter, for time has not dimmed that day’s event in the old grey matter. I used to live in Stoke, next to the Victoria ground. The pub in question was the Victoria Hotel – a Stokie pub if ever there was one. Strangely enough it was Christmas time too when the man standing before me witnessed a proud father showing off his three-year-old twin daughters rugged against the cold and wearing their new Port Vale tops. It was indeed a very special moment for me – although it drew a few wry smiles from the local stokies.
That a fellow Valiant can still recall that day is, to say the least, very kind of him.
With the hub-bub of the Vale pub reduced to a ‘white noise’, and the ‘blast from the past’ quietly sipping away his beer, my mind hurtled back to other times when, as a responsible father, I attempted to bring up my daughters correctly – including all things Port Vale. The latter starting with a game at home to Aldershot.
Unfortunately it was a bitter cold November afternoon. We were three goals to the good when the fog closed in. The players and officials left the pitch in the hope the fog would lift. It didn’t, and the match was abandoned. So too, it seems, were my darling daughters. Or so they thought. Sobbing with cold, and absolutely frightened by all the swearing coming from the terraces. Naturally, I took them straight home for warmth and comfort. Little did I realise then that this experience would have a detrimental affect on them in the years to follow.
And so it was, Boxing Day 2002, as these and many other memories came flooding back that I found myself stifling a tear or two. Well I had to because I knew that I would need them for my usual post-match weep. Seriously though, it just got better from that moment on. Yes, dreams do come true.
Now this is the part where I get really emotional and just a tad puddled because within three months of Boxing Day 2002 my beautiful daughters came back into my life once again. They were no longer toddlers, but beautiful sixteen-year-olds. Just as Mrs TVV had said on many occasions ‘as soon as they reach that age they’ll come knocking on your door’. Well not quite. As we are in the 21st century our first contact came via a telephone text message. And thanks to a friend who had been approached by one of my daughters I now had a mobile number.
You see it in the films. Scriptwriters have a ball penning such storylines. This Is Your Life brings it into your lounge rooms. But they all fade into oblivion compared to the reunion between my first born twin daughters and me.
Our first contact was by telephone. Their voices sounded strange at first. But they were not strangers because I knew who they were. In my mind’s eye were two adorable babies. But now they were young ladies. As my heart was racing, my mind was asking a million questions. At the same time I knew there would be so much that was new to learn about my girls. After the initial telephone contact a date was set for the reunion of all reunions.
In the days leading up to the reunion my thoughts were totally preoccupied with meeting my girls. It seemed that nothing else mattered. If V2001 had failed to take over Port Vale I wouldn’t have cared less. If Port Vale had gone out of business it wouldn’t have mattered. Or if Brian Horton had led Vale to a thirty match unbeaten run, so what, it’s only a game. That was how I felt at that point in time.
In hindsight it seemed an eternity had passed before that golden meeting of March 27, 2003. But there we were, face to face with each other. The words were stuck in my throat, my mouth was as dry as sandpaper, the tears were welling in my eyes, and my aching arms were trembling to once again hold them close. And all the previous heartaches were now being replaced by sublime joy.
Life just doesn’t get any better than this.
To say that it was an emotional reunion is an understatement. It was much more than that. But there was one question needing an answer. It seems my girls are Arsenal fans. I just couldn’t believe it. But then again, what father takes his young girls to a match on a bitter cold November afternoon – against Aldershot of all teams – and expects that they would not be negatively affected.
Still, they could have been Stokies.
Thanks for caring and sharing.
A momentous day for me – made all the sweeter by yesterday’s result.