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.
From a tiny Yorkshire village,
where the men worked down the pit,
his father told him , you won’t breath coal,
you’ll wear a football kit.
Even at his young age,
scouts were on the prowl,
will he play for Sheff Unitedl
or become an Owl.
Would he join Preston North End,
across the old Pennines,
only thing they knew was,
he’d never work inside the mines.
Then came 1914, and the war to end all wars,
and a generation of young men,
arrived on Gallic shores.
One day recruiters came to town,
to sign up volunteers,
and Bertie Hislop to his age added several years.
Lord Kitchener,told the volunteers,
the war would all be fun.
Over by Christmas time,
but he didn’t say which one.
Despite plesa from his family,
and local football side,
Bertie headed off to France,
upon a Dover tide.
His home became a muddy trench,
all waterlogged and cold,
and his only simple pleasure was,
the cigarettes he rolled.
As he stared into the mud,
he saw his local pitch at home,
where he left defenders in his wake,
as down the wing he’d roam.
They said he’d play for England,
before he’s twenty-one,
but Bertie gave it all up
to go and fight the Hun.
While artillery fire and charges,
played havoc with the nerves,
Bertie dreamt of beating men
with his body swerves.
He dreamt of Yorkshire pudding,
and his mothers mushy peas,
and how he wished he’d stayed at home,
and listened to her pleas.
Bertie wrote a letter home
on a freezing Christmas Eve
telling them he’d soon be home,
on a two week leave.
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.
Then dot on midnight came a sound,
from a German trench nearby,
as ‘Silent Night’ in German
filled the Belgium sky.
“All of us are Saxons,we only hate the French,”
was shouted at the English lines
from the German trench.
“Happy Christmas Fritz.”
came a voice from the English line,
and ” happy Christmas Tommy,”
replied the men from across the Rhine.
On a frosty Christmas morning,
beneath a clear blue Flemish sky,
Bertie and his colleagues weren’t prepared to die.
They dipped into their rations,
and soon began to sing,
first some Christmas carols
then ‘God Save the King.’
As the German trench responded,
with the carol ‘Good King Wensless’
a Boche strolled into no mans land,
He was joined by a couple more,
the schnapps had made them brave,
and towards the English trenches
they gave a friendly wave.
So the men of the Yorkshire Rifles,
all put down there guns,
and climbed over the parapet
to greet the friendly Huns.
Hands were shook,photos swapped,
ciggs given out like candy,
and German schnapps was guzzled
along with English brandy.
A couple of Highlanders with a ball,
came to join the banter,
and soon two goal posts were put down,
each a tam a shanter.
With their comical pork pie hats,
the Germans did the same,
and before you could say Franz Beckanbaur
you had an international game.
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.
He terrorized the Germans,
almost from the start,
but not with a machine gun
but with his skill— and heart.
The game was never dirty,
they’d both seen too much blood,
but not an inch was given
on the frozen Ypres mud.
The Germans took and early lead in the morning cold,
and Bert removed his trench coat,
and up his sleeves he rolled.
The English ventured forward,
with non stop goal attacks,
but they couldn’t rattle Germany
and their stoic backs.
Then young Bertie, beat two Huns with a swivel of his hips,
and he beat the German keeper with the most delicate of chips.
They swapped ends at half time,
with the score one —-one
and straight after the break
Bert went on a run.
With a drop of his young shoulders,
and his famous body swerve,
he left defenders in his wake
as in the ball he curved.
The Tommy’s on the side
jumped when he scored,
and even the German players,
stood back and applaud.
But the Germans were resilient
and refused to fall,
and a blonde aryan head
soon made the score two all.
“Feed the ball to Hislop, ”
came the side line shouts,
as the Tommy’s soaked up pressure
from the skilful Krauts.
Then Bertie started off,
on one of his mazy runs,
leaving in his wake a bewildered bunch of Huns.
He dribbled round the goalie,
and popped it in to score,
and everyone on No mans land
forgot about the war.
The Germans then pressed forward,
to try and score their third,
but the game was abruptly ended
when a single shot was heard.
Captain Wainwright removed his pistol,
and fired it in the air
and ordered all the Tommy’s back into their lair.
Bert returned to the trench
carried shoulder high,
a hero in a brilliant match that history would deny.
The history books will tell you,
of hat tricks by Geoff Hurst,
but they won’t acknowledge Bert Hislop,
who buried his one first.
They’ll mention one man shows,
Malcolm McDonalds’ five v Cyprus
but they won’t tell of Bertie Hislop
in no mans land in Ypres.
Captain Wainwright told the troops,
he sincerely apologized
” I had to stop the game
before they equalized.”
” 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.
You’ll beat them at warfare,
at rugger and at cards,
but you’ll never beat the bastards
at scoring from twelve yards.”
The night before his leave,
Bert took sentry duty
dreaming of his second goal
which everyone called a beauty.
He heard a sound in No mans land,
and foolishly raised his head,
and a seasoned German sniper
shot Bert Hislop dead.
In a desolate mining village,
which Maggie helped destroy,
there lies a grave upon the hill
of a heroic Yorkshire boy.
The stone says BERTRUM HISLOP
15 years 200 days,
killed in action YPRES
and in this ground he lays.
So when you list your English heros
and put Beckham at the top,
spare a thought for NO MANS LAND,
and a bloke called BERT HIS-LOP.