Little did Runar Skrøvset realise that a chance conversation with a gentleman named Pål would make the pages of onevalefan. But that is exactly what has happened and Barry tells us that as long as his mental faculties permit he will never forget the story.
You can read Sean’s story in the ovf article listed below and titled ‘Those who would Valiants Be’ whilst Runar’s story is in ovf verse called ‘He Spreads the Word, He Flies the Flag’. And some time in the near future you will be able to read Sergey’s story too. But this story, as relayed by Runar, is another real gem and definitely worth the telling.
I would never tire of listening to my dad’s stories about Port Vale and he could guarantee my undivided attention and complete understanding for a subject topic that was very important to me. Sometimes speaking in whispers and with furtive glances over his shoulder for special effect he would talk of the ‘Vale greats of the past and the players of the present. It was akin to a master craftsman passing down to his apprentice the sacred secrets from some safe repository.
My dad’s football philosophy included the premise of knowing who and what you are, of being aware of your capabilities and never, ever getting ‘big headed’. Anyone who did get big headed needed to be brought back to earth. Those not heeding such a warning were said to be on ‘Fullers earth’ – a reference to baby powder & babies bottoms – with managers and coaches publicly encouraged in subtle and not so subtle ways not to give them a game.
It goes without saying that I shall always remember the many Port Vale stories handed down from father to son because each and every one were unique and tangible. Tangible that is as in learning the sequence of the alphabet or the rudiments of mathematics.
Amazingly, the story you are about to read also includes unique and tangible characteristics – at least for me they do – and as long as my mental faculties permit I will never forget Runar Skrøvset’s fascinating story of a children’s ‘Board game called ‘Wembley’ and our beloved Port Vale Football Club. Folks, incredulous as it may seem this story truly underlines that old saying of ‘truth being stranger than fiction’. But first, a few words about Runar aka OneValeFanInOslo.
Runar’s own story is unforgettable too in that he is a Norwegian born Port Vale supporter who, until now, has only seen Port Vale FC in live action three times – once when he made the journey in 2001 to watch the Final of the LDV Trophy in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Runar, a regular on the ovf Forum, recently told us he is planning a second trip to Burslem to watch the ‘Lads play on the hallowed turf known as Vale Park where, I have no doubt whatsoever, he will be given a right royal reception from other onevalers and be entertained in grand style culminating, we hope, in three points for the ‘Lads.
There’s a delightful touch of romance when someone like Runar supports Port Vale because it is the likes of Man U and Arsenal who continually grab global headlines. The same applies to Sean Ryan – an exiled Irishman living in America – and Sergey Tomashevsky from Rostov in Russia. Yes I know, I know, there are others too. But these three Valiants immediately spring to mind.
Where was I? Ah yes, Runar’s amazing story starting with two brothers from the Norwegian island of Andøya.
A cyber search reveals that the island of Andøya is located in northern Norway and is well above the polar circle.
At approximately 70 kilometres long it is Norway’s tenth largest island with spectacular natural features including wide moors, sharp craggy mountains and long white beaches.
The weather contrast is said to be one of hurricanes tearing up the roads to hot idyllic summer days perfect for a trip to the beach.
Bliek is located on the north western side of Andøya and is nestled on the Bay of Bliek in the shadow of Røyken Mountain.
The best translation yours truly can offer for Bliek is ‘White’. But no doubt Runar will put me straight otherwise.
The story of Bliek goes back many centuries and includes a proud mariner tradition. Their trademark slogan is ‘We harvest the seas’.
Hang about, maybe in the history pages of Andøya there are stories to be told, going back to the seventh and eight centuries, of the Norwegian branch of the Scandinavian Vikings leaving the Bay of Bliek to cross the ‘Channel in search of new farmlands, trading opportunities and settler possibilities in land of the Anglo Saxon.
Just a thought mind.
Runar, on the other hand, is a modern day Viking seeking a different glory and will be crossing the ‘Channel yet again to be with his Valiant family. In fact, you could say that Runar is our very own Valiant Viking.
Runar’s story starts by telling us that once upon a time, probably around 1975, a boy and his brother played a football game called ‘Wembley’ – an Ariel Board Game with 64 teams drawn against each other in a ‘Cup competition similar to the F.A. Cup.
The object was to finish with one team beating all the others and it was controlled by throwing different coloured dice to decide the results: red dice for Div 1; blue for Div 2; yellow for Div 3; and white for Div 4. However, it seems the number combinations on the coloured dices differed in such away as to make it easier to win for the teams in the top two divisions. But when the two brothers played the game one team from the lower ‘Divisions would beat the bigger clubs over and over again. And that team is? Our beloved Port Vale, of course.
Folks, this is where Runar’s story gets even better.
The years came and went. But the two brothers hadn’t forgotten that strange little ‘Team from the ‘Wembley dice game’. Nor would they forget Port Vale when in January 1988 one of the brothers missed out on the top prize in the Norwegian 12 match betting coupon. He had successfully picked 11 out of 12 with the 12th game being the TV match we all remember so well – Vale 2, Spurs 1. Oh dear, it seems that anything other than a home win would have done the trick to bring the money home. But it wasn’t to be.
But hang about, there’s more to tell you.
Did any of you know that once upon a time there was a Scandinavian Port Vale Fan Club? No? Neither did yours truly. According to Runar there most certainly was with a total of 14 members including the two brothers mentioned above. But sadly it fell into decline some ten years ago. Seven of those fourteen members live in Bleik on Andøya and about ten years ago they decided it was important to keep alive their childhood memories of that ‘Wembley dice game’ they used to play in the mid seventies.
Guess what? This was finally achieved when they sponsored a perimeter sign at the Høken Football Club in Bleik proudly displaying the name Port Vale. What’s more, every year they pay approximately £30 to preserve the sign’s position.
But wait, wait, there’s still more to tell you.
About fifteen years ago one of the seven Andøya Scandinavian Valiants, a certain Mr Magne Hugo, actually telephoned Port Vale FC and asked to speak John Rudge. That’s right, asked to speak to the legend himself. What’s more it worked because against all odds he did get to talk to the ‘Great Man’. And not just speak to him either because, according to Uncle Stein – another Scandinavian Valiant – it seems the two spoke at length about football, beer and girls. Wow, can you believe it? Well yes, I can believe it because John Rudge was like that, wasn’t he?
Uncle Stein also tells onevalefan that when Magne telephoned John Rudge’s first reaction was…”Hey guys, I’ve got a crazy Norwegian on the line who says he supports us!” He also tells us that the endearing memory of that telephone call can still be found in the clubrooms of SK Høken where proudly displayed for all to see are the several Port Vale souvenirs sent to Magne Hugo.
See you later…