Sturdy Handshakes and a Packet of Oats

Sturdy Handshakes and a Packet of Oats

It’s strange how the most obscure of all our recollections can act as a spur to bringing back memories of days gone by, both happy or otherwise. In this verse Barry illuminates one such recollection from the keyboard of LoveRapt.

***

As a boy, did LoveRapt ever dream of playing for Port Vale? Did he have distant thoughts of a place in the top flight of the English game? And did he perchance imagine himself playing a part in international glory? Still, and whatever, we may never know the answers to those questions.

However, what we do know is that he was invited and participated in a ‘Trial’ at Port Vale under the watchful eyes of Jackie Mudie and Sir Stanley Matthews.

Here is his story, taken from his ovf post dated 17th December, 2002…

***

Sturdy Handshakes and a Packet of Oats

The dream could have been so different
Back in Nineteen Sixty-seven,
And, had LoveRapt made the grade
He would have been in seventh heaven,
But it wasn’t going to be
As his story will reveal,
For the challenge that he faced
Was tougher than Shelton steel.

Jackie Mudie player-manager
Sir Stanley was at the top,
But Port Vale had no money,
Not a penny in the pot,
So a smart plan was devised
To build a future based on youth
Plus schoolboys who showed promise
To give our ‘Club a bright new look.

The search went far and wide
To find the very best,
No stone was left unturned
Pursuing that Great Quest,
And from the north-east country
Plus Scotland’s banks and braes
Young hopefuls came in numbers
To the Burslem clime and ways.

The dialects and the accents
Were thick and varied too
Including Scot and Geordie
Plus one or two from Crewe,
They’d arrived in the Hamil
Searching for their ‘Grail,
And for a chance to first impress
Then to line up for Port Vale.

He remembers Stuart Chapman
And Mick Cullerton as well,
They went to Stafford Rangers,
As far as can he can tell,
Ah, the mighty ‘Lads of Stafford
They were really on the up,
Plus they had a few successes
In the Youth and FA Cups.

What about those ‘Likely Lads’
Who were allowed to get away,
Ray Kennedy was one of them
When told he could not play,
Well, Liverpool and Arsenal
Plus England saw his best,
Then LoveRapt left it there
‘Cause he’s sure we know the rest.

***

Now LoveRapt was ‘A Likely Lad’,
As my dad was want to say,
So with all the other wannabes
He lined up on that day
To show the mighty duo
That he was good enough,
But when he saw the older boys
He knew he’d need some luck.

At fourteen years of age
He thought he’d be just fine,
But the older ones around him
Put their bodies on the line
When they hustled and they bustled
As they tried to make their mark,
For this was not a kick-about
In the schoolyard or a park.

LoveRapt says he had the skills,
That he was super fit,
That he truly worked his socks off
To make a go of it,
But as the wind chill factor fell
He knew within his heart
That despite his Valiant efforts
He would not get a start.

The boys who did not make it
Were taken to one side,
And LoveRapt did his best
To hide his wounded pride,
And though the news received
Must have been extremely hard
Our ‘Boslem boy stood tall,
For he was not a mard.

The message for our True Blue
Was to put on extra weight,
And when that goal was reached
‘Come back at a later date’,
But LoveRapt never did,
Was it just a task too big?
Although he’s done his best since then
To do as he was bid.

Jakie Mudie and Sir Stan,
Two icons of our game,
Gave him sturdy handshakes
That helped to ease his pain,
But for reasons still obscure
The thing he remembers most
Is being given a parting gift
Of a unnamed packet of oats.

Barry Edge
Perth, Western Australia
January 22, 2003

🙂

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