Christmas is nearly upon us, so it is time for us to sit back by a roaring fire, pour a glass off eggnog and enjoy the first part of a festive morality tale which comes to us courtesy of Jude Ellery of Man & Ball, Football Farrago and, most recently, Strange Bounce. In part one of this reworking of Twas The Night Before Christmas, entitled A Visit From St Meredith, we are visited by a rather familiar figure for this time of year. The other two parts of this trilogy will be available on Strange Bounce next week. Our thanks go to Jude for sharing this with us. We’ll be back tomorrow with a special Christmas message but, in the meantime, we’ll take a moment now to wish you all a very happy Christmas, and a peaceful and prosperous new year.

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
United socks hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

The baby was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of footballers danced in his head.
A Littlewoods nightie, and dad’s special cap,
Lay close in attendance as owners did nap.

When out on Pitch One there arose such a clatter,
Wayne sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to goalposts below.
When, what to his wondering eyes should approach,
But a little red man, in a bustling team coach.

In his mouth was a pipe, or cigar, or a stick,
Wayne thought for a moment it must be Saint Nick!
More rapid than Concorde, the vehicle came,
Then he whistled and shouted, and called them by name.

“Now, Bobby! now, Georgey! now, Dennis and Duncan!
On, Malcolm, on! Joey, on! Francis and Colin!
To the top of the pitch! to the top of the goal!
Now run away! run away! run away all!”

All the men tumbled out when he parked up the bus,
One boot stood on another and Wayne heard a cuss.
But then up to the goalmouth the players they flew,
With a bag full of balls, and their eager boss, too.

And then, in a twinkling, Wayne saw on the grass
The players all dribbling or choosing to pass.
As he drew in his head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney their gaffer did come with a bound.

He landed, well balanced, with a ball at his foot,
His crimson shirt faded and all covered in soot.
But he brushed himself down and there right on his chest,
Sat proudly a dragon, on an old-style crest.

His eyes how they narrowed! his cheeks how they sunk!
As he saw young Wayne dressed in silk cap and silk trunks.
Then his mouth it grew small, as his lips, they went tight,
The moustache on his philtrum was black as the night.

The stump of a pick he held firm in his teeth,
Bit tight, he had clearly no rush to bequeath.
He had a slim body and yet slimmer smile,
That made poor Wayne wish he could run for a mile.

He was near perfect shape, a trim little old elf,
And Wayne shied when he saw him, in spite of himself.
The glare of his eye and his motionless head,
Soon gave Wayne to know he had something to dread.

He wasted no time and went straight to his task,
He rifled through cupboards, then turned sharp to ask:
“Dear Wayne, what is meant by this Christmas eve trip,
Is honest appraisal of this here wage slip.”

He held it aloft, the small blue printed note,
And queried the figure he proceeded to quote.
Why was Wayne still paid such a laughable sum,
When neighbouring players looked on and made fun?

To be continued at, next week…

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