Unbecoming to behave like silly sods

In this memoir, Barry Edge recalls journeys to Vale Park to watch his beloved Port Vale play.

Barry Edge writes…

We always started out early to walk from Bucknall to Vale Park with the bus fares saved spent on sweets plus fish and chips on our way home after the game.

There are no prizes for guessing what we talked about. Yes, that’s right, Port Vale…

Although we may have looked a tad scruffy we posed no threat to man or beast (as we used to say) with our behaviour collectively self chastened in the knowledge our parents would not be pleased to hear otherwise.

We had the choice of three routes to Vale Park and they all converged at Far Green. The first would be one of veering off to the right at the bottom of Ivy House and coming into Far Green via Northwood. The second was one of leaving Ivy House half way up and making our way to Far Green along St John Street. The last one was going through Hanley town centre. After Far Green we would walk along Chell Street, Hanley Road, across High Lane and down Hamil Road.

The return journey to Hanley was either train or bus. The buses travelled down Waterloo Road direct into Hanley and stopping near Webberleys Book Shop.

What’s that? Why did we always go via Far Green? All I can say is we just did.

There was doubting Far Green of the 1950s was important to us because all of our parents had lived there at one time or another. In fact, and if my memory still serves me well, anyone said to have been born in Far Green could call themselves ‘True Fir Grayners’ – including my eldest brother who was born in 29 Hulton Street.

There are no prizes for guessing what we talked about. Yes, that’s right, Port Vale. We all had our favourite player: Tommy Cheadle; Ken Griffiths; Basil Hayward; Ray King; Albert Leake; Reg Potts; Roy Sproson; and Stan Turner.

My favourite player was ‘Dickie Cunliffe.

Where was I? Ah yes, next stop Vale Park and the terraces of Hamil Road.

It was neither by chance nor coincidence that some of our dads would also be in the Hamil Road end of the ground, and even though there was no requirement for us to stand near them it was not an opportunity for us to ‘act daft’ because our behaviour was always on show – even though our dads pretended otherwise – with misdemeanours dealt with later at home.

Come hail, rain or shine, whether win, lose or draw we were happy mates – if not a little too boisterous at times.

Such was the situation on the train from Burslem to Hanley when wanton vandalism brought disgrace upon its cargo of youthful Valiants. I’m not sure whose idea it was, but before anyone could do anything to stop the behaviour two light globes had been carefully removed from the carriage bayonets and thrown out of the window onto the rail tracks.

Several of the adults in the carriage chastened us and expressed their collective hope that our parents would find out and deal with us accordingly. Also, with our several apologies falling on deaf ears, we were reminded that when wearing the ‘black and white’ we had a responsibility to uphold the good name of the Port Vale Football Club.

As usual, word of such incidents would filter through to our respective parents. Although my dad expressed his verbal disappointment for my being caught up in the sad episode it was my mum’s silent displeasure that stung the most. Later, I was quietly reminded by her that it was ‘unbecoming to behave like silly sods’.

See you later,

Barry Edge
Western Australia
May 26, 2018

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