William Webb Ellis

WIlliam Webb Ellis, The Prince Albert

In the year of Our Lord, 1800 and 23,
William Webb Ellis invented rug-bee,
He was playing football, when just for fun,
He picked up the ball and away did run;
At a fee-paying school, the pupils are master,
The teachers all cried: “Good show, Ellis, just run faster!
Carry the ball and use your hands to pass,
This game shall be for the ruling-class!
The Oiks might think you’ve gone off your rockah,
But we’ll play ruggah, they’ll play soccah.”
And so William Webb Ellis achieved his fame,
By inventing a brand new top toff game –
But just imagine he’d been a Socialist,
And liberated money, not ball, with his bourgeois fist,
Just imagine when he went off his rocker
That he emptied all his teammates’ lockers,
And then gave the poor all his team mates’ money,
And just imagine that the masters found that funny;
It means that chauvinist tournament called the 6 Nations,
Would today see acts of financial liberation,
Two sets of teams, both scoring points,
By redistributing wealth to all us oiks
Stealing money from merchant and from banker,
And if they didn’t, the crowd’d cry “——”
Passing money to the poor would be the aim
Of all these televised rugby games,
The BBC clean round the bend,
In its new role as the peoples’ friend;
And so William Webb Ellis, you so nearly could
Have been a latter day Robin Hood,
You could have been a modernist Marxist icon
Of proletarian liberation;
But you show that anarchy is not just destruction,
It can be an act of imaginative invention –
And so the next time you see rugby on TV,
Just reflect on what might have been,
And hope that some modern day William Webb Ellis
Will reshape upper class Ascot, Henley, Wimbledon and tennis,
And then in a final act of resurrectionist rage,
Reverse the rules of the Stock Exchange,
By leading all the toffs of the world in this millenarian strain:

“It’s the same the whole world over,
It’s the rich wot now gets the blame,
It’s the poor wot now gets the treasure” …

Now wouldn’t the redistribution of wealth through football,
Really be: “The People’s Game”?