NOW, I am assured, in the winter of our discontents, or something: I am not quite sure, quite what our dis contents are, but I do know one piece of good news.
With the pound rising and falling to such a degree to make even a Gladstone seasick; the temperature — political, economic and meteorological — causing Highs over the Tories, Low over Labour and continuing depression over the Liberals, yet with all these and even greater woes to tabulate, Great Britain last Saturday stood supreme.
As the fog rolled in from the sea to isolate the Continent yet again, the Great Britain Under-24 Rugby League Team trounced the French 19-2 (and the Frogs' 2 points were only from a penalty goal). As I did not witness most of the second half I must take the ref's word for the result, but why Great Britain should have been winning 19-0 at half-time and not score another point, I cannot understand.
Craven Park is a superb football ground. Each time I visit it I feel quite proprietorial, if not lordly. Along with my two £1 shares in the Hull and East Riding Co-op share should in a fit of magnaminity with my wife — with these two £1 shares I have five £1 shares in 'ull Kingston Rovers — "The Robins".
I suppose the truth will out, but Sometime or another I had to confess it, I have sold out to capitalism. 1 have five £1 shares in 'ull K.R.
True, I have never received a dividend, but few companies can have supplied their shareholders and customers with so much enjoyment, pain, anguish, elation and satisfaction over the past years. There are few greater thrills for a boy of 14 years or 40 than entering a football stadium, sensing the most of expectancy, the thill of anticipation, the excited chatter and wisecracking as in the time spent w ailing for the teams to appear.
Half an hour before the kick-off we thought the match might be cancelled. The fog about the ground made the stands as gaunt and fearsome as the battlements of Elsinore when Hamlet met his father's ghost.
It was as though some Hull washerwoman was standing at one end of the pitch and shaking a great grey blanket, which as it rose and fell nipped across the field.
She revealed as the game started particularly tantalising parts of the play as a figure melted into the mist carrying the ball away from his own half, only to reappear a few seconds later galloping in the opposite direction having apparently changed his jersey.
There were a few supporters from France with us, apart from the of ficials. Brave souls they sang "Allen, La France" with courage, dedication and helplessness. We all looked pityingly on these strange foreigners trying to play "our" game. We admired their audacity that they had ventured so far north to join us in our tribal rituals. They really thought it was a game!
They came from Carcassonal and A rgnon and Toulouse, from the lands of the warm sun and wine to meet us on our own muddy ground, where in the chill and damp atmosphere we unrolled our secret weapons which came in with the tide — the fog, Cold, dank, wet, damp fog. Clinging like cotton wool; disappearing, reappearing, giving a new dimension to the Great Britain players whose white jerseys were but an extension of the mist, to he grasped at but never held, Players appeared and disappeared into the mist, disembodied spirits. The ball floated above the level of the fog kicked by an unseen boot to be caught by an unseen pair of hands. The washerwoman, satisfied with her work, started to put the blanket on the bed and smooth out the wrinkles.
Suddenly the scoreboard was in sight (still only 19-0) then the far stand and then a scrum, generating more steam than the Humber and North Sea combined; so the only figures to be dimly discerned were the backs on either side. The final hooter to signify the end of the match was so like a foghorn that there was a near panic as we believed the North Sea Ferry was joining for the British try-line: but we had won 19-2. I don't recall seeing the French score their two points, and many of Great Britain's I missed as well: but we won.
There were speeches after, toasts, kind words, singing. We all agreed it was a great match. The referee had seen the ball on at least six occasions. Granted the dulcet tones of Eddie Waring were not present to explain to the uninitiated, south of a line from the Mersey to the Humber, what it was all about. We, the initiated. knew. We had won, therefore it was a great game, a clasSic.
Despite all our troubles Great Britain can again parade with head held high. But, oh dear, 'ull K.R. lost at Wigan.