Did you write a poem in tribute to Steve James?

Thursday 19 January 2023 13:30

In October 1975, the late, great sports journalist David Meek received a poem written in tribute to United centre-back Steve James.

The Black Country man joined the Reds as a youngster in the mid-60s, and went on to play 161 times between 1968 and 1975.  But by the autumn of ’75 he had lost his place in the side, after helping Tommy Docherty’s team achieve promotion the previous season. 
That inspired United fans working at Hope Hospital (now Salford Royal) to take pen in hand and send their poem to Meek.
James came upon the poetry when his Aunt Nora shared some memorabilia she had amassed about his career over the years.
James challenges Vic Halom of Fulham during a pre-season friendly in 1971.
“I felt staggered and overjoyed,” James told our official matchday programme, United Review
“How often does someone have a poem written about them and not become aware of its existence until 43 years after it was first written? 
“I must have read it numerous times, over and over again, never considering myself a ‘star’ player.”
James says he felt personally “responsible” when the team were relegated in 1974, but returned to form as United roared to the Second Division title.
“Out of the blue, around Christmas time, I was chosen to play against Sheffield Wednesday and stayed in the team, winning promotion against Blackpool,” he remembers. 
“The game against Blackpool was the last game I played for Manchester United – that is why this poem means so much to me, because this group of nurses put pen to paper and thanked me for my efforts.”
Steve runs out for his final United game, as the Reds receive a guard of honour from Blackpool after winning Division Two in 1974/75.
Now James, 73, is attempting to contact those who took the time to write the poem all those years ago. 
“I had toyed with the idea of writing to Hope Hospital for some time, to personally thank those nurses for those kind words, whose warmth and sentiment have never faded. 
“Maybe, just maybe, I may meet in person some of those nurses who 48 years ago, unbeknown to me, showed me a great kindness.”
There are rumblings around the Old Trafford ground,
Regarding the Honourable James.
Why are there no shouts being bandied about,
With regards to the absence of same?
He did a great job, as agreed by the mob
Of supporters and critics alike.
But he never seems to get publicity- yet,
He earns it, the Honourable James.
Twice bashed in the face, then fallen from grace
By the art. Hon Docherty, Tom,
That’s why we don’t hear,
Those roars far and near,
For the Honourable Steven R. James.
Ten years he’s been with them,
The longest of all
Due for a Benefit soon?
Oh, why don’t we see him, gazelle like and tall,
The quietest man of them all?
So let’s read next week, from the man David Meek
Concerning the Honourable James,
About how last season, he helped pull them through
And out of Division Two

If you have any information relating to the poem below, or its writers, please contact: Victoria.toiviainen@nca.nhs.uk