The War of the Roses
by
Gordon Kerr-Smith

Illustrations by D. Ferguson
You'll 'ave 'eard of the Wars of the Roses. 
The 'istory books make 'em sound dry, 
For they never explain satisfact'ry 
Just 'ow they got started, and why.

Its not widely known that the trouble 
Began on account of a match 
Between Lancs and Yorkshire, at Cricket, 
That thousands 'ad turned up to watch.

The Captain of Yorks were Dick Crookback, 
What later was Dicky the Three; 
But as 'e were still Duke of Gloucester, 
Yorks 'ad to pay large transfer fee.

The Lancashire Skipper were 'Arry, 
Known as 'Enry of Plantaginate, 
Which folk said were 'amlet near Blackpool, 
A little place close by Squires Gate.

As t' ball was of finest cast iron 
And t' players used maces for bats, 
Instead of pads, teams wore full armour, 
Wi' sweaters of chain, and steel 'ats.

Old Trafford were picked as the venue, 
And both teams was trained to their peak 
When they 'eard Umpires' tandem 'ad busted, 
And they wouldn't arrive for a week.

Said Richard, "We'd best start wi'out 'em, 
I don't see what use they would be, 
'Cos we'll knock up a thousand by lunchtime, 
Then bowl that lot out before tea!"

Plantaginate 'Enry 'ad 'eard this, 
And a thund'rous look covered 'is clock. 
'E roared some'at shockin' in dialect, 
Which translated polite meant — "Don't mock!"

Thus, in atmosphere charged wi' good 'umour,
The Captains stood fuming, and glared, 
And said they'd not wait for no Umpires, 
That t' job by t' twelfth men could be shared.

This settled, the match then got started 
Wi' Yorkshiremen goin' in to bat. 
And 'Enry put on 'is fast bowlers, 
Tryin' smartly to knock wickets flat.

But Yorkshire defence were quite dogged; 
They stonewalled till quarter to four, 
Then when they saw Lancs' bowlers wiltin', 
They 'it out, and started to score.

They belted the ball to the bound'ry 
Which caused their supporters delight, 
And spectators went into uproar 
When Dick 'it one clean out of sight.

At last Yorks were out for Nine-fifty, 
Then Lancashire's turn came to bat, 
And even their stoutest supporters 
Ne'er dreamt they'd a chance to top that.

But 'Enry was far from defeated, 
And sly grin 'e Managed to 'ide, 
As, while all the rest were at luncheon 
'E called twelfth-man Umpires aside.

'E slipped 'em both 'undred Gold Guineas 
And promised 'em that there'd be more 
For turnin' blind eye to Lancs' errors, 
Thus givin' them good chance to score.

The lads were quite easy persuaded, 
And to 'Enry's plan both agreed, 
So Lancs took the field primed and ready 
To slog with all possible speed.

First ball 'Enry 'it to the railin's, 
And t' next, and t' next after that. 
But fourth ball just clipped 'is leg wicket,
And fieldin' side 'ollered "OWZAT?"

The Umpires remained quite impassive, 
And made no response to the call, 
But Richard demanded decision, 
So both answered firmly - "No-Ball!"

The same thing occurred in t' next over, 
And Richard went purple in t' face. 
So change of attack were decided, 
By replacin' spinners wi' pace.

This tactic proved quite unavailin', 
For as Lancs were caught, stumped, or bowled, 
When t' fielders appealed to the Umpires, 
"Not Out!" were all they were told.

One Yorkshire fast bowler, Fred Brewman 
Bowled sizzler that knocked t' wicket flat. 
As 'e walked back past t' Umpire 'e muttered - 
"By Gum, it were bloody close, that!"

Wi' one ball to go in t' last over,
Lancs equalled the score Yorks 'ad made.
They were nine wickets down, - Eight exhausted, 
And t' ninth when Yorks bowled 'and grenade!

Before last ball could be delivered,
Decidin' the match either way,
The Great British Weather took over,
And Notice went up - "Rain stopped play."

As match settled nowt, teams was livid, 
And as a result went to war, 
But that couldn't alter the Scorebook, 
Where t' game were recorded - A Draw!" 
The end