‘My Grandad Albert’

Here’s Barry Edge with another of his Vale-themed poems – this time Shergey82’s memories of going to Vale Park with his Grandad.

Barry Edge writes…

It’s 1132 hours GMT, April 4, 2013 and Shergy82 is sharing with onevalefan his personal and very emotional story about his granddad Albert (Bertie) Hill. It is a story many of us will relate to; it is s a story that left yours truly in tears.

In the euphoria leading up to and winning promotion to League One it was a time for some of our members to reflect as to why they support Port Vale F.C. Some shared happy memories, some poignant, for others it was a mix of happy and sad. Shergy’s memories are one such mix.

Shergy was just 12 years old when his beloved granddad took him to see Port Vale host Wolverhampton Wanderers in the F. Cup. In the previous round the football headlines read something along the lines of ‘Minnows beat Southampton in Replay’. Eleven days later we were back at Vale Park to entertain the Men from Molineux – a game we lost 2-nil. However, Shergy’s memories of that game are few to say the least, but we’ll let him tell you why.

This then is Shergy’s story.

My Granddad
Albert ‘Bertie’ Hill (R.I.P)

‘Tis nearly twenty years since first I went to ‘Vale –
The same year Trentham Super-pit closed its ‘Pithead rail,
We were playing Wolverhampton in the F.A. Cup
When we were known as Minnows, but we were ‘On the Up’,
And if you were to ask for my memories of that game
I must confess not many – although there is no shame
For I was just a lad with my granddad Bertie Hill
But sad to say I mostly slept in that January chill

Now I’ve no doubt my granddad had a love affair with ‘Vale
And I know there’s other folk who could tell a similar tale,
The stories he would tell transfixed me every time
On the days we went to see the “Vale come hail, rain or shine,
And as soon as we were settled and comfy in our seats
Out would come a packet of my granddad’s special sweets,
Back then, of course, I didn’t know how central it would be
That my granddad took the time to share his life with me

I truly lived for Saturdays, my granddad by my side,
To go and see our heroes, to wear our scarves with pride,
We even went to London to the Wembley of the South
To watch John Rudge’s team, to give the ‘Lads a shout,
But when we went to find our bus ‘twas nowhere to be found
So there we were in Wembley wandering aimlessly around,
The other buses had long gone when granddad said ‘Don’t fuss,
‘Cus over there our driver is waiting just for us’

As the seasons came and went with fortunes high and low
My granddad’s step got shorter; his pace was very slow,
But even then, throughout it all, surprises he did spring
Like the time he introduced me to his mate the ‘Shandy King’,
He took my hand and with a smile said ‘Come and meet my friend,
He’s known to Valiants everywhere as one who could defend’
I could scarce believe my eyes, and my heart’s at racing pace
The day I met Brian Horton in the ‘Players Race’

As time went by my granddad’s health began to fade away
And I just knew it hurt him not to see Port Vale play,
And ‘though my Saturday’s would never be the same
I made myself a promise to report back every game,
All and every detail was related as I saw,
Every goal, every free kick, every win, loss or draw,
And I would rush to see him after we had played at home
But for the games away I’d report by telephone

My granddad’s last three years were spent in nursing care
And sometimes I would think that it was so unfair,
He suffered from dementia – remembering less and less
And he needed daily care to help him bathe and dress,
Then three o’clock one morning a ‘‘phone call I did take
And I rushed around to see him but sadly was too late,
So I held his warm hand close as tears welled in my eyes
And told him we would meet again in a place where no-one dies

I was the last to see him before he passed away
And there’s much I want to tell you, so much I want to say
About a very generous man – my granddad Bertie Hill –
Of the good times shared together, and how I miss him still,
And how through all those nineteen years since nineteen ninety four
My granddad shared his life with me and gave me so much more,
He may be gone but I just know he’s always close to me
And from his earthly pain forever he’s now free

There is no doubt my granddad was a true blue Valiant son
And you can bet he knows promotion we have won,
He’d be watching from above when Northampton came to town
And saw the celebrations in a pub known as The Crown,
We’ll be together once again when August comes around
And I will shed a tear when I walk into the ground,
His earthly journey’s done, but his spirit’s with me still –
He’s my hero; he’s my granddad – Mr. Albert (Bertie) Hill

Barry Edge
Western Australia
May 2, 2013

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