The real ones, the right ones, the straight ones and the true,
The pukka, peerless sportsmen-their numbers are but few;
The men who keep on playing though the sun be in eclipse,
The men who go on losing with a laugh upon their lips.
The men who care but little for the laurels of renown;
The men who turn their horses back to help the man that’s down;
The fearless and the friendly ones, the courtly and the kind;
The men whose lion courage is with gentleness combined.
My notion of a sportsman ? – I’ll try, then, to define.
For preference well bred, of course, of some clean- living line;
With pride of place and ancestry whose service was the King’s;
With all a noble knight’s contempt for low, left- handed things.
Not the ‘good sport’ who burdens us with cheap and futile chat
Of the ‘pedigree’ of this one and the ‘outside chance’ of that,
But a man who loves good horses just to handle them and ride
Where the fences call to valour and the English grass lies wide.
All the best and truest sportsmen I have lived with and have known
Have a changeless faith within them which their simple hearts enthrone,
Believing in the God that made the green fields passing fair,
The God that gave good courage – and to every man his share.
And all the truest sportsmen I have met have had this gift:
A love of all the classic books that lighten and uplift;
And all have loved red woodlands, swift birds and coloured flowers;
And all have played with children and counted not the hours.
And I think when God has gathered all the men that He has made,
The perfect British sportsman may stand forward unafraid;
For, brave and kind and courtly, and clean of heart and hand,
No life than his seems nearer to the life our Maker planned.
– William Henry Ogilvie
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