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The Euston to Blackpool line is swathed in fog,
Early 1958, and the evening train is held at the signal.
The halo of an approaching bicycle lamp looms through the mist.
“A plane crash” says the rider, and “It’s bad”.
It appears in black and white photographs that night
In the Lancashire Evening Post;
Roger Byrne, the unassuming pipe-smoking captain
(like my Dad) is gone.
Tommy Taylor, bustling leader of the line from Barnsley,
David Pegg, Eddie Colman, Liam Whelan,
Are all gone.
On Wednesday week the programme will reveal
A ghost team
Playing from memory
But for now the talk is of infirmaries, and rosaries, and iron lungs
Young Duncan, didn’t he have iron lungs?
At Hampden Park, at Wembley,
Bursting through midfield, princely and majestic,
With youth on his side
Matt Busby may not make it,
The old guard may not make it
But Duncan, and Bobby, they’ll survive.
So let’s go back and spot the later trains,
It’s all right, they’ll survive.
Then the signal nods,
And the tail-light of the train
Disappearing into the February fog.