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Selection for the national side
Was once a cause for burning pride.
And though the trek back home was long,
They faced it with defiance strong.
On Saturdays they’d play a match,
Then change their clothes and run to catch
The train that went to Liverpool,
And eat a pork pie, as a rule.
Then at Lime Street, they’d a very
Briskish walk to catch the ferry.
Nine hours later, dirty, bleary,
Dock in Dublin, or Dun Laoghaire,
Where they’d join up with the squad,
With but a little help from God.
It was a quite exhausting trip
By Shanks’ pony, train and ship.
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But in the sixties, certain players
Would not say their travelling prayers,
And claimed that they had got “a knock,”
Or broke the tie-up on their sock,
Or seemed to have mislaid their comb,
Preventing them from coming home.
And there were others Busby told,
“You’re not to go – you’ve got a cold.”
Despite the fact that they felt fit,
Busby would have none of it.
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Charlie Hurley used to play
For Sunderland on Saturday.
And when the final whistle blew,
He knew just what he’d have to do.
He wouldn’t bother getting dressed,
But start to run with zeal and zest
Out of the ground and out of sight
Still proudly garbed in red and white.
He’d set a course for west-south-west
[A course he always found the best]
And then he’d run with steady stride,
Until he reached the foaming tide,
Whereupon, he’d plunge into the ocean,
And with a forceful front-crawl motion,
Swim and swim, and in a jiffy,
He’d be powering up the Liffey.
Thus Charlie put them all to shame,
Those charlatans who’d miss the game.
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And those “great” players, who will not play
For Ireland’s national team today,
Trying to eke out their careers,
For one or two financial years,
And leave international football early,
Should take a leaf from Charlie Hurley.