“Is it time for Christmas yet?”, the little one asked this morn.
I told him “No, it’s on December 25th, when baby Jesus was born”
“But there’s loads of Christmas trees put up, and there’s adverts on TV”
“Well I can’t help you with that my son, its nowt to do with me.
“When I was your age, we had to wait, until the time was right,
“We didn’t start celebrating Christmas, straight after bonfire night.
“There are only twelve days of Christmas, as far as I remember,
“That’s 12 not 20 or 36, and none of them’s in November.
“All this early talk of Christmas, is leaving me bereft,
“It’s not as if it’s around the corner, there’s over six weeks left”.
With that I sent him on his way and told him not to ask again.
But as the little lad walked away in tears, I felt a twang of pain.
Would he ever get over it, the teary little mite?
But I only felt sorry for a minute, because I knew that I was right.
It’s only Christmas when Noddy Holder says it is, not the adverts on TV.
And then, and ONLY then, the 12 days begin, surely it can’t just be me?
It’s been a very long week, up here in the north west
But we stayed strong, we are northern, and it’s what we do best
You took many innocent lives, mums and dads and children, sadly
But up north we are different, we don’t suffer fools gladly
We are northerners, and in mind we’re strong and we’re fit
And we don’t really have time for your idealist’s shit
In times like these we all pull together
Northern by birth, northern forever
We don’t look back in anger, we look forward with pride
So, come at us again and again, we have right on our side
Within hours of the horror, the whole of Manchester was rockin’
You can try, you won’t beat us, you couldn’t even stop us shopping
In their hundreds and thousands, Mancunian’s on the streets and the paths
You think we are beaten – Don’t make us laugh
In a city where every religion you can think of, live together with no fear of distain
We all stood together, like we have time and again
You see the religion of hate, has no place in these parts
You may take some of our lives, but never our hearts
We stood proud and said, ‘business as usual’, yes that’s what we did
We paid respect to the dead and their families, “stay strong our kid”
It’s been the worse year for loss, that we can ever remember,
There’s another man down, before the end of December.
He was a friend a brother and somebody’s son,
A husband a father, a special someone.
Rich, poor or famous, or just ‘one of us’,
Whichever road they walked, it was ever thus.
Another man down, in our tears and our laughter,
Their memories will remain, for many years after.
Another man down, he may have left kids and a wife,
All the more reason, to rejoice in his life.
When we think of him, we should not be in pain,
We should remember the sunshine, and not just the rain.
Let’s raise a glass and a smile, and still talk of him lately,
Another man down, we will all miss him greatly.
Keep sharing his memory, whilst we all still have breath,
His life must not end just because of his death.
To all those that have passed on, in this terrible year,
We are all so thankful, for the time you were here.
Our lives have been stronger because you were around,
So, the toast from us all is ‘another man down’.
Written after a local man was murdered whilst out on his 'Christmas work night out', leaving behind a wife and young child.
There’s something about Mary, that’s what everyone says
Whether it be her great sense of humour, or her headmistress ways
She’s been around now, since 1929
And as you can see, she’s still doing fine
She often scolds people, as though she’s still ‘head of school’
She shoots from the hip, she’s nobody’s fool
Popping round to Mary’s, is always such fun
The kettle is always hot, and there’s always a bun
She says life’s for living, not for wasting away
That’s why she’s invited you all here on this day
You see being 90, for Mary, has never held fears
Who else would have three ‘practice funerals’, in the last 10 years?
I know that later, she’ll check the grammar in this rhyme
It’s what she does best, and it isn’t a crime
You see, if all school teachers today, had her love of their craft
Kids wouldn’t be leaving school, either simple or daft
She’s always wants more, for those with talent or flair
And she isn’t slow to come forward, when showing she cares
Sponsoring young footballers, has been just one of her joys
Her walls are adorned with photos and shirts, from ‘her boys’
She’s followed them all, from Stockport to Cyprus over the years
She is so proud to have played even a small part in their careers
When her players change clubs, it causes despair
As when she goes out, she’s not sure which club scarf she should wear
But in truth, Mary doesn’t worry too much about such strife
She’s more concerned about getting the best out of life
Spending time with her friends, especially nights just like this
I can assure you that no-one here will escape without a hug and a kiss
You see, being a friend of Mary’s, is quite simply a gift from above
As the thing about Mary, is her unconditional love
Our lovely friend Mary, a former headmistress, turned 90 recently, she invited all her friends and family, including several footballers that she had sponsored during their early careers, to a party to celebrate her birthday. It was the third 'practice funeral' she has held (80, 85, 90)
Now you’re gone to a calmer place, we won’t forget your happy face.
Whether you were celebrating another year, or just enjoying your favourite beer.
You lit up the room when you were there, especially whizzing around in your electric chair.
For every lady you had a hug, if the men didn’t like it, you’d just give a shrug.
For every child you had a smile, the best grandad by a country mile.
You’ve left behind an empty space, with no one here to take your place.
In life there are so few real gents, but you were one, a hundred percent.
So goodbye from us to one of Bredbury’s best, at least you’re now in a place of rest.
Thanks for the memories, and the fantastic life you led,
You were everyone’s Grandad, and we’re going to miss you Ned.
My children never had a grandad they could call their own as they grew up, my daughter Amy inherited Ned when she met her husband. He treated all of our family as his own and his passing in 2018 has left a big gap in all of our lives.
My heart goes out to his family, And to all whose paths he crossed
I’m sure he’ll be fondly remembered, By the players that he ‘bossed’
Indeed all who ever met him, Say only good things about ‘big Keith’
The giant of a man, with a giant frame, And an even bigger heart, beating underneath
He would spend time talking to all he met, As long as football was the game
Fans of his, or some other team, We were treated all the same
I recall his time at the County, His stay was unspectacular and brief
But he is still very fondly thought of, As before ‘big Kev’, we had ‘big Keith’
I met him a couple of times, years later, Spoke about how he’d made the record books
The Football League’s first black manager, And how he’d had many dirty looks
I believe it made him stronger, In his outlook, and his inner belief
It would have taken more than discrimination, To topple the man, they called ‘big Keith’
And so it proved, as God did call his name, Whilst he was manager at ‘Macc’
Keith would have allowed himself a wry smile, As in his honour, England’s finest wore bands of black
It was ‘big Keith’s’ time, the lord did say, A time of sadness for all he knew
A football giant, such a humble man, But a gentleman through and through
Keith Alexander was the first black manager in The Football League, a true football man who had made the journey through ‘non-league’ to Football League both as player and Manager.
He played for my team (Stockport County) for a short period in his career, I spoke to him some years later whilst taking my coaching ‘badges’ and was struck by his love and understanding of the game.