CONTINUING our series of unsung heroes, I thought I would publish this poem which was written by Bill Hall whose son Gareth is an integral part of Atherton Collieries.

Bill has recently had a spell in hospital and hopefully seeing this in print will aid his recuperation. The poem refers specifically to Atherton Collieries but committee members at all non-league clubs will be able to relate to it.

Have you ever given much thought?

Probably not but I think you ought, Just what it takes to put on a game, And every week it’s always the same, So much to do, so little time, As will become obvious from this rhyme.

During the week there’s the pitch to prepare, That’s when Bod and Frank both do their share, If the weather is fine, it shouldn’t take long, And Frank has been known to burst into song, But if the weather is foul or if there’s a hitch, He’ll stand foot on fork thinking “Ain’t life a (pitch!)”.

Saturday dawns – so much to do, As Emil assembles his motley crew, Lines need marking, nets need to be hung, No danger here of receiving a bung.

Is there a kit-man putting shirts out, That would be something to shout about, Dave Protano is the man on the gate, Try to come early don’t leave it till late, He gets flustered if there’s a queue, And a queue to Dave, is one more than two.

As one of Snow White’s dwarves he might well have passed, But to which one? It would be churlish to ask, Still you’ll always be greeted with smiles, Even though he suffers from piles.

Making sure the ref and assistants too, Before the match can have a brew, Getting the teamsheet checked and okayed, And if there’s money for the ref to be paid.

Is the water in the showers hot?

Still to do there’s an awful lot, Refreshments needed for both teams, Is this really the stuff of dreams?

The catering is Emma’s domain, She’s the queen of cuisine and long may she reign, For a shortage of baps there is no reason, It’s tantamount to (flipping!) treason.

I hope someone’s been for the pies, Or they may get crushed between her thighs, The pies are here, that’s one job less, Or we would have been in a mess.

Hot dogs bubbling on the stove, The tastiest in all of this town, All washed down with a cup of Earl Grey, That will really make your day.

If you prefer to have a jar, Make your way to the Colls club bar, Stay inside and watch the game, But the atmosphere won’t be the same.

Once the game has begun to commence, Who collects the balls which go over the fence?

Some may go over the Formby Hall, So there’s no danger of our lad lying on the ball.

Half-time arrives and you feel the heat, But only in the Jimmy Fielding suite, Where the away team committee are dining in style, They’ll probably come out after a while.

Dave Protano is on the way round, It’s the half-time draw so give him a pound, Surprisingly when he’s seen on one of his prowls, People automatically think of the bowels, I’ve never, ever won a prize, But really that’s not a big surprise.

After the match it’s not all done, No matter who has lost or won, First the nets need taking down, That’s down to Frank while wearing a frown.

Someone must collect all the dirty kit, But there’s one set missing, who’s gone (to the loo!) The showers and changing rooms need a clean, It’s still going on, know what I mean.

Both teams need to be watered and fed, Then we can put today to bed, Finally it’s all done and dusted, A gut for this club these people have busted, Without them it just wouldn’t survive, Without their enthusiasm and their drive, So thank – you to them you can shout it out loud, They really do this little club proud.