A 'FRIENDLY' MATCH
(A Rhyme of Rugger)
J. Hurst Hayes.
'Ave yer 'eard of the Puggleton Bounders, the Rugby fifteen in our town?
If ye 'aven't it's time as ye did so, so I thought as I'd write the thing down.
They call themselves champions, lor' lumme, and wear velvet caps on their 'ead,
They wears 'em on Sundays and weekdays, and I dessay they wears 'em in bed!
Any'ow, we was tired of their jawin', and sick of their fussin' and brag,
If they 'ad beaten Sloshcome and Mud'ole, it was time they was given the gag.
So I says to Bill Jones, the prizefighter, w'at works in my coal mine as well,
'Let's get up a team and we'll challenge the Puggleton Bounders oursel'!'
Bill Jones 'e'd no notion of Rugger, but 'e fancied 'imself with 'is fists,
So 'e said, 'Well, it seems a bit stoopid, but I don't mind a-enterin' the,lists.'
So we got up the team on the moment, each man was a good fifteen stun,
A sort of a Robert Fitzsimmons and Hackenschmidt rolled into one.
To make a long story a short one, we met on the Brickfield one night,
The 'ole of the town was a-watchin', expectin' a very nice fight.
The Puggleton Bounders wore jerseys, and stockings striped scarlet and green,
While we'd just our corduroy trousers, but boots, well, the thickest I've seen!
And spikes in the sole! Old Bill chose 'em, all iron and an inch or two long,
They came from the top of some railings, a cross 'twixt a pick-axe and prong.
I 'eard the spectators a-laughin', and doubtless we may 'ave looked fools,
For I own as there wasn't a feller as knew one per cent, of the rules!
They kicked off, and almost immediate the game seemed to get a bit free;
I caught the ball, started a-runnin', when someone came tacklin' o' me.
Now if there's one thing as I can't stand, it's people a-clawin' my 'ips,
So I ups with my 'and and 'ands off the poor fool, on the lips !
And then we'd a scrum, we'd no need for three-quarters, or forwards, or halves,
We just put our feet up together and scraped at the other side's calves.
The referee? Well now, that's funny! I know 'e was there at the start,
'Cos Bill 'ad some words with 'is riv'rence, and gave 'im a clump on the 'eart.
The Brickfield was 'ard when we started, but w'at with the blood and the gore,
We 'adn't been playin' five minutes before there was pools on the floor.
One chap got 'is neck dislocated, 'e wasn't our side, I may say,
And three got their legs sort of broken: their legs got a bit in our way !
We 'adn't no 'alf-time nor lemons, that wasn't the style quite for us:
We just went on playing our football without any bother or fuss.
Of course, there were one or two pauses. One poor little beggar, 'e died.
I thought it an 'appy deliv'rance; again, 'e was not on our side.
Ten minutes before the game ended they'd only one player intact,
And there was my side, and a scratch one, upstanding, complete and compact.
We made a big rush all together, and though the bloke stood to 'is ground,
Well, we gave 'im a decent interment, and picked up the bits that we found!
So that was the end of the battle. We lined up to give 'em a cheer,
But some'ow there wasn't no answer, a little unsportin' to 'ear.
Our men 'ad enjoyed themselves splendid. 'But w'at was the scorin'?' asked Bill.
I answered, " I don't know for sure, but I think it was fifteen to nil!"