The Ambler

Amble's Community Newspaper: News & events from Amble in Northumberland – The Kindliest Port.

Ray King: Winning still counts

Wimbledon, the Football World Cup and the Open Golf have all come and gone but this country hasn’t a single thing to show for it, and yet Spain not only embrace the best Tennis player in the world, but won the Football World Cup and are highly proficient in every major sporting events, thank goodness they don’t play Cricket!

However my gloom was given a boost when I watched the European Athletic Games last week on television. Our British athletes were absolutely magnificent, displaying not only performances of the highest standard but integrated with a passion seldom seen by many of our sporting participants of today. For once in a very long time I was proud to be British!

Those who say it is not the winning that is important but the “taking part”, my answer to that is utter ‘balderdash’! What would be the point of playing any game if the participants didn’t care if they won or lost? How boring that would be! To win is the essence of any sporting event whether is be Football, Cricket, Rugby, Golf, Tennis or any other sporting activity such as Tiddlywinks or Marbles.

In my young days, every year there was a sporting event which was held at Amble Welfare during the miners holiday week. There were numerous competitions but the highlight was the 100 yards handicap races. Runners from all over the country flocked to this prestigious event, many of them professional sprinters. After all, there was big money involved and betting took place on a large scale.

Amble Council well aware of my sporting prowess invited me to take part in the hope I could compete on the same level as the pro sprinters. I willingly agreed to do so, the only problem being I did not possess a pair of running shoes with spikes which were essential in events such as this, particularly against such formidable athletes.

Knowing my chances of coming even close to winning without spiked pumps was practically nil (I heard later several punters backed me to win!) I was beaten at the line by a 10th of a second.

If, the little word with such a big meaning, had I worn the correct running shoes the result could have been so different. The winner was named Spence, rated as the No 1 sprinter in the North of England. To come 2nd did not however hide my bitter disappointment, to be No 1 must be a top priority!

On the 14th of August, one day before my 86th Birthday I have been invited by my former club Port Vale to attend their first home match of the season against Chesterfield.

This event is to honour me being introduced on the pitch to the crowd before the game. 60 years to the day I am the last remaining player who played on the ground which was to be named Wembley of the North!

Ray

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3 Comments

  1. Hi Ray
    Remember you at OXFORD when we reached the FA Cup quarters for (still) the only time in our history
    Very best wishes, Andy

  2. Hi Ray,

    So many great memories of your time in the Hamil, and I even have vague recollections of your first ‘Reserves game at The Rec in Hanley when we played Walsall in the Staffs Senior Cup. I was just 8 years old.

    Our dads never allowed outsiders to speak ill of any of you because you were ‘family’ and it was a given that only family could express dissapointment when Port Vale F.C. had an off day.

    In 1957 we saw you leave for Boston Utd which left most Valiants more than a tad sad.

    Thank you Ray – you are indeed a Port Vale Legend.

    Barry Edge
    Kewdale
    Western Australia

  3. My God, suddenly I am communicating with my teenage hero goalie!
    I was a disabled goalie myself due to polio as a child which deprived me of the use of my left Achilles tendon. They said but for that I might have had a future in football … Who knows. But I played my last scratch match on Wembley Stadium shortly before it was demolished and at one point tipped the ball over the bar in a save that I treasure as a football memory. I was 63 at the time and had to buy a pair of new boots especially for the occasion. The boots remain amongst my personal memorabilia – with the mud from that day still caked on them!

    Well, Mr. King, let me tell you I never saw a goalkeeper since you were playing able to pluck the ball out of the air on crosses with anything thing like the precision and elegance that you contrived. I can see you now sailing off the line to gather one such as I write. I cannot recall a single fluff in that skill on your part in all the matches I saw you in.
    Your style and the dribbling skills of Colin Askey are my prime memories, apart from the spring in my step when I trudged up the hill to Vale Park on match days. Is it true what I hear that the club had been offered a blank cheque t sign him? (I heard it was Cardiff City.)

    When I was playing in parks one summer in about 1958 I suffered bone-bruised elbows on the bone-hard summer ground that year which took ages to heal, and I recalled an article I had read on you that you had once endured 20 or so competitive matches with broken wrists having sustained them when saving a penalty. It eased my suffering over playing that summer despite that bruising on my elbows to think that it was nothing compared with your feat on broken wrists!

    Well, sir, it has been a pleasure to walk down memory lane with you. I just past my 70th birthday but I have never been happier than when I went along to watch Vale and its Iron Curtain defence play. It’s just a pity they and we had to age, eh?
    Thank you for having been alive dear Mr King. I should like to be the next person the wish you Many Happy Returns in time for your next birthday.

    Nigel Hanson

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