May 05, 2007

Arthur Milton (Poem of the Month, May 2007)

Arthur Milton.

(The Last Man To Play Football and Cricket For England. Played for Arsenal , Bristol City and Gloucestershire. He could also knock off the Telegraph crossword in the dressing room in 20 minutes.)

Denis Compton. Willie Watson, Arthur Milton.
Icons from an age of the gentle sportsman.
Graced the football/cricketing whites of England
On pitches they turned to the greens of Eden.

Now Arthur is dead, who just for one season
Graced the wing of a City pitched for promotion
And centred so sweetly – for Gentleman John
(His England team-mate) to score clean and strong.

Arthur (like John) was a craftsman
With hard ball too, an England batsman
Wielding willow like wand. Where have they gone?
These angel wingers with muddy shorts on?

These gods of the crease who retire to be postmen
And weighed so lightly the fields they scored on?
So rich in gifts, so poor in ambition,
Premier players unpampered by mammon.

Sleep well, old Arthur, God’s own Bristolian.
If we go up today, as we did in your season,
Give us your quick smile from sporting heaven.

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