|

Young Bertie Hislop (No Man’s Land hero)

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 He was born in 1899, Bert Hislop was his name,
and from the time he kicked a ball,
he was a natural for the game.

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 From a tiny Yorkshire village,
where the men worked down the pit,
his father told him, you won’t breathe coal,
you’ll wear a football kit.

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 Even at his young age,
scouts were on the prowl,
will he play for Sheff United,
or perhaps become an Owl?

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 Would he join Preston North End,
across the old Pennines?
Only thing they knew was,
he’d never work inside the mines.

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 Then came 1914,
and the war to end all wars,
and a generation of young men,
arrived on Gallic shores.

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 One day recruiters came to town,
to sign up volunteers,
and Bertie Hislop to his age,
added several years.

7 Leave a comment on verse 7 0 Lord Kitchener, told the volunteers,
the war would all be fun.
“Over by Christmas time,”
but he didn’t say which one.

8 Leave a comment on verse 8 0 Despite pleas from his family,
and local football side,
Bertie headed off to France,
upon a Dover tide.

9 Leave a comment on verse 9 0 His home became a muddy trench,
all waterlogged and cold,
and his only simple pleasure was,
the cigarettes he rolled.

10 Leave a comment on verse 10 0 As he stared into the gluey mud,
he saw his local pitch at home,
where he left defenders in his wake,
as down the wing he’d roam.

11 Leave a comment on verse 11 0 They said he’d play for England,
before he’s twenty-one,
but Bertie gave it all up,
to go and fight the Hun.

12 Leave a comment on verse 12 0 While artillery fire and charges,
played havoc with the nerves,
Bertie dreamt of beating men,
with his body swerves.

13 Leave a comment on verse 13 0 He dreamt of Yorkshire pudding,
and his mothers mushy peas,
and how he wished he’d stayed at home,
and listened to her pleas.

14 Leave a comment on verse 14 0 Bertie wrote a letter home
on a freezing Christmas Eve
telling them he’d soon be home,
on a two week leave.

15 Leave a comment on verse 15 0 He said he’d miss the Christmas cake,
the presents and the trifles,
but he had to stay and fight the Huns
with his fellow Yorkshire Rifles.

16 Leave a comment on verse 16 0 Then dot on midnight came a sound,
from a German trench nearby,
as ‘Silent Night’ in German
filled the Belgium sky.

17 Leave a comment on verse 17 0 “All of us are Saxons,
we only hate the French,”
was shouted at the English lines
from the German trench.

18 Leave a comment on verse 18 0 “Happy Christmas Fritz.”
came a voice from the English line,
and “Happy Christmas Tommy,”
replied the men from across the Rhine.

19 Leave a comment on verse 19 0 On a frosty Christmas morning,
beneath a clear blue Flemish sky,
Bertie and his colleagues,
were not prepared to die.

20 Leave a comment on verse 20 0 They dipped into their rations,
and soon began to sing,
first some Christmas carols
then ‘God Save the King.’

21 Leave a comment on verse 21 0 As the German trench responded,
with the carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’
a Boche strolled into No Man’s Land,
totally defenseless.

22 Leave a comment on verse 22 0 He was joined by a couple more,
the schnapps had made them brave,
and towards the English trenches
they gave a friendly wave.

23 Leave a comment on verse 23 0 So the men of the Yorkshire Rifles,
all put down their guns,
and climbed over the parapet
to greet the friendly Huns.

24 Leave a comment on verse 24 0 Hands were shook, photos swapped,
ciggs given out like candy,
and German schnapps was guzzled
along with English brandy.

25 Leave a comment on verse 25 0 A couple of Highlanders with a ball,
came to join the banter,
and soon two goal posts were put down,
each a tam ‘o shanter.

26 Leave a comment on verse 26 0 With their comically, ugly, pork pie hats,
the Germans did the same,
and before you could say Franz Beckanbaur
you had an international game.

27 Leave a comment on verse 27 0 Lots were drawn by soldiers,
to see who’d make the side,
and Bertie got the right wing spot
which filled him up with pride.

28 Leave a comment on verse 28 0 He terrorized the Germans,
almost from the start,
but not with a machine gun
but with his football skill and heart.

29 Leave a comment on verse 29 0 The game was never dirty,
they’d both seen too much blood,
but not an inch was given,
on the frozen Ypres mud.

30 Leave a comment on verse 30 0 The Germans took and early lead,
in the morning cold,
and Bert removed his trench coat,
and up his sleeves he rolled.

31 Leave a comment on verse 31 0 The English ventured forward,
with non stop goal attacks,
but they couldn’t rattle Germany
and their stoic backs.

32 Leave a comment on verse 32 0 Then young Bertie beat two Huns ,
with a swivel of his hips,
and he beat the German keeper,
with the most delicate of chips.

33 Leave a comment on verse 33 0 They swapped ends at half time,
with the scoreline one to one,
and straight after the break
Bert went on a run.

34 Leave a comment on verse 34 0 With a drop of his young shoulders,
and his famous body swerve,
he left defenders in his wake
as in the ball he curved.

35 Leave a comment on verse 35 0 The Tommy’s on the side
jumped up when he scored,
and even the German players,
stood back and applaud.

36 Leave a comment on verse 36 0 But the Germans were resilient
and refused to fall,
and a blonde aryan head
soon made the score two all.

37 Leave a comment on verse 37 0 “Feed the ball to Hislop, ”
came the side line shouts,
as the Tommy’s soaked up pressure
from the skilful Krauts.

38 Leave a comment on verse 38 0 Then Bertie started off,
on one of his mazy runs,
leaving in his wake,
a bewildered bunch of Huns.

39 Leave a comment on verse 39 0 He dribbled round the goalie,
and popped it in to score,
and everyone on No Man’s Land
forgot about the war.

40 Leave a comment on verse 40 0 The Germans then pressed forward,
to try and score their third,
but the game was abruptly ended
when a single shot was heard.

41 Leave a comment on verse 41 0 Captain Wainwright removed his pistol,
and fired it in the air
and ordered all the Tommy’s,
back into their lair.

42 Leave a comment on verse 42 0 Bert returned to the trench
carried shoulder high,
a hero in a brilliant match,
that history would deny.

43 Leave a comment on verse 43 0 The history books will tell you,
of hat tricks by Geoff Hurst,
but they won’t acknowledge Bert Hislop,
who buried his one first.

44 Leave a comment on verse 44 0 They’ll mention one man shows,
Malcolm McDonald’s five v Cyprus
but they won’t tell of Bertie Hislop
in No Man’s Land in Ypres.

45 Leave a comment on verse 45 0 Captain Wainwright told the troops,
he sincerely apologized
“I had to stop the game
before they equalized.”

46 Leave a comment on verse 46 0 One thing you’ll someday learn chaps,
when you get as old as me,
is you never let the Germans
take you to penal–ties.

47 Leave a comment on verse 47 0 You’ll beat them at warfare,
at rugger and at cards,
but you’ll never beat the bastards
at scoring from twelve yards.”

48 Leave a comment on verse 48 0 The night before his leave,
Bert took up sentry duty
dreaming of his second goal
which everyone called a beauty.

49 Leave a comment on verse 49 0 He heard a sound in No Man’s Land,
and foolishly raised his head,
and a seasoned German sniper
shot Bert Hislop dead.

50 Leave a comment on verse 50 0 In a desolate mining village,
which Maggie helped destroy,
there lies a grave upon the hill
of a heroic Yorkshire boy.

51 Leave a comment on verse 51 0 The stone says BERTRUM HISLOP
15 years 200 days,
killed in action YPRES
and in this ground he lays.

52 Leave a comment on verse 52 0 So when you list your English heroes
and put Beckham at the top,
spare a thought for NO MAN’S LAND,
and a lad called BERT HIS-LOP.

53 Leave a comment on verse 53 0 ——————————————————————————–

54 Leave a comment on verse 54 0 © John J O’Connor

7

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/young-bertie-hislop-no-mans-land-hero/