Friday, 22 December 2017

Cliff Young - The Ballad

At a place called Parramatta to the south of Sydney town
Endurance runners gathered, some of world renown
A mighty crowd was there that day, the press and TV  too
and many words were spoken before the day was through
eleven runners toed the line, eleven hearts beat strong
For we all knew what lay ahead and where we could go wrong.

A gun was fired, away we went, each runner to his pace
The back-up crews were on the move, their runners for the race.
The road was thick with traffic, they were their in all their makes
And above the toots and cheering came the squeal of hard pressed brakes.
Through the shouts , the yells and bedlam, the police all acted fine
But all the way to Melbourne our lives were on the line.

The pace was hot through Goulburn then it was on to Yass
Some runners'  feet were blistered and others had the rash
But still we kept on moving, for we could only try
To run one hundred miles a day when we would rather die.
Our back-up crews did all they could to keep us running strong
And they all suffered with us, when the day was hard and long.

With Gundagi behind us, there was Holbrook way ahead
How could we keep on running when we were almost dead?
There were hills all shapes and sized, some short, some long and steep
and each man had to beat them or fall into a heap.
We ran all day and half the night to Albury and Wodonga
Though cheering crowds sure eased the pain, we could not stay there longer.

We had to keep on running, through the heat, the wind and rain
When the day was long and weary and the night was filled with pain.
When we passed through Wangaratta, Benalla was a cinch
Though our legs were tired and weary, we made it inch by inch.
Then came the Kelly country and when we hit Euroa
Some of us were almost gone, but the race was still a goer.

Then onward, ever onward through a day of wind and rain
We stopped at Violet Town a while, then it was on again.
It wasn't far past Seymour when the rain came pelting down.
The wind was blowing strongly and our faces was one big frown.
But still we kept on running, up a road that seemed like sand
And we would keep on running while we had the strength to stand.

The people got behind us in a way we knew they would
It was good to hear them cheering in the rain without a hood.
Though they were drenched, they cheered us with emotion running high
And those teardrops rolling down their cheeks were also in our eyes.
They were there in countless numbers, the women, men and kids
And on this page we thank them all, to them we dip our lids.

The crowds were huge through Melbourne, the cheering loud and strong
And still we kept on running though we'd nearly had the gong.
And as we breathed the poison fumes from cars of every make
Oh God, is there a limit to what flesh and blood can take?
Up hills, round bends, up hills once more. Oh God where will it end?
Our heads were spinning badly and we can't pick foe from friend.

At last the race has ended, with it's noise and cheers
Now is the time to put things straight and wipe away the tears.
We know the race to Melbourne, was worth it every stride
It has given us renewed hope and filled us up with pride.
We know full well our point was proved although we may be nuts
And though we may be short on brains we made top marks in guts.

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