A John Bull Franking Stamp

Exiled Valiant Barry Edge is a regular columnist for onevalefan. In this verse he draws on a message board post from LoveRapt, dated the 3rd December 2002, which shares with onevalefan his experience of the biggest crowd he’s ever seen at Vale Park. LoveRapt also says that by the end of the game some supporters were even sitting near the grass by the touchline.


A John Bull Franking Stamp

On January twenty-five
Nineteen hundred and sixty-four
A third round FA Cup game
Had ended in a draw,
It was excellent news for Valiants
And the shock of the ‘Round,
For Liverpool had been held
By the ‘Lads from Burslem Town.

Tommy Lawrence was in goal
Ron Yeates was centre half
St John centre forward
Their backbone on the park,
And with other household names
Of Thompson, Milne and Smith,
Most teams really struggled
To make a game of it.

Now their world had been shaken
Right down to the core
And the black and white supporters
Gave up a mighty roar,
But had John Nicholson’s header,
Just minutes from full time,
Hit the net, instead of the bar,
Then the news would have been sublime.

A replay in the Hamil
Was something not to miss,
With the chance to see those heroes
And an autograph would be bliss,
So LoveRapt was resolved
That on Monday twenty-seven
He would see Peter Thompson
And be in seventh heaven.

So there he was in the car park
Behind the Lorne Street stand
A spotty young lad of eleven
With book and pen in hand,
Along with other young Valiants
He waited anxiously
To ambush Shankly’s supermen
From Mersey by the sea.

When the coach came to a stop
It was surrounded by a frenzied push
Of young Valiants waving books
And getting caught up in the crush,
But LoveRapt was determined
That before the end of the game
His Charles Buchan Monthly scrapbook
Would contain Peter Thompson’s name.

As one by one those super ‘Reds
Stepped down from the coach
The eager Valiant youngsters
Were boisterous in approach
As they jostled one another
To be the first ones in the queue
In the hope that they would get
An autograph or two.

To stand before those giants
Of international fame
Was worth their time of waiting
In the cold and in the rain,
But when the coach was empty
And Thompson was not there
Young Valiants were bemused
And thought it hardly fair.

The news had been announced
That Thompson was to play
Along with Ian St John
At Vale Park that day,
But England’s flying winger
Was nowhere to be seen
And many Valiants wondered
‘Was he in the team?’

That question was soon answered
When a posh car came to rest
With several other passengers
Surrounding England’s best,
And for the waiting youngsters
It was like a dream come true,
But before they met the ‘Great Man’
They were made to form a queue.

The instructions were quite clear
‘Only those in a single line
Will be rewarded with an autograph
Even though it will take time’,
So the excited Valiant youngsters
Did as they were told
For Peter Thompson’s signature
Was like a pot of gold.

LoveRapt waited patiently
An eternity and more,
When finally his reward
Was knocking on his door,
But the promise that was made
As the cold north wind did bite
Was the biggest of all let downs
He’d experienced in his life.

Standing there before him
Was the man he’d come to see,
As he placed his football scrapbook
He was as nervous as could be,
Then the youngster’s admiration
Quickly turned to ire,
For it may have been a cold day
But his fury was on fire.

For England’s flying winger
Did not use a pen,
To sign young Valiants’ pictures
He put a stamp on them,
With an inkpad in his hand
And a John Bull franking stamp
The famous Peter Thompson
Avoided getting cramp.

Young LoveRapt felt betrayed
And wondered what to do
As he ran into the office
To join another queue,
He collected all his programmes
And took off with a dash,
For to win a good view of the game
He must sell them in a flash.

The ground was filling fast
When from the Bycars End
A rush of Liverpool fans
Had forced the gates to bend,
And over on the Hamil side
Others climbed upon the roof
Of the then Port Vale Social Club
To get a better look.

History’s page now tells us
The game was finally won
When a late goal scored by Liverpool
Ended Port Vale’s run,
But LoveRapt still remembers
How he thought it rather rank
That Peter Thompson’s autograph
Was nothing but a stamp.

Barry Edge
Western Australia
December 9, 2002


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