Poems tagged ‘Football Memories’

Sir Elton John and Watford

And so ends another long and
Meandering Premier League season
When the final shrieks and screams
And raucous cheers and beers
Have toasted the garlands
Of trophies galore
One man bids farewell
To music’s festival
Of fiestas and siestas
The big stadiums,
Big gigs, the global
Acclamation and adulation
Life’s full and rich tapestry
The vices and vitality
Following him down
Yellow Brick Roads
Sir Elton John
Hertfordshire’s finest
Takes the last curtain call
At Glastonbury
The voice of reason,
The vastness of his imagination
All conquering song lyrics
That spanned the profundity
Of innumerable verses
That touched our souls
Delicately and powerfully
Through the gales and gusts
The warmth and heat
Of simple rain then
The birthdays of our times
Anniversaries and wedding
First dances
Reg Dwight
Who guided us through
Tumultuous times
A gilded past
And then his beloved Watford
Were always there
From the bottom of the old
Fourth Division
When Ross Jenkins and Luther Blissett
Shot the Hornets to the stratosphere
While Graham Taylor launched
His long ball campaign
To the rarefied heights
Of the top flight
Sir Elton
The chairman of the board
But not the 1960s hipsters
This Sunday evening Sir Elton
Will undoubtedly think back
To those yellow rose emblazoned
When John Barnes a force of nature
Terrorised the downtrodden on
The wing and then Barnes almost
Discovered heavenly hymns at
The old Wembley
Where Everton took the sting
Out of the Hornets venom
In FA Cup Final defeat of
1984 at the hands
Of those Toffees of Everton
But we then looked up at the
Wembley royal box
And noticed the sobbing
Lachrymose vales of tears
Flooding those eloquent red
Eyes, weeping at those
Sad songs
Rocket Man
No longer the illustrious
Astronaut recognising
FA Cup glory
Candle flickering in the
Wind, hope now ebbing away
Fading into yesterday
Vicarage Road now
The solemn congregation
In Sunday pews
All united by the common
Bonds of defeat
They shall never be moved
Vicar, what a wonderful service
Oh to be a fly on the wall
And a penny for Sir Elton’s thoughts
Last hours at the centre of
The stage, piano finely tuned
That immensity of talent
Glamorous glasses gazing
Through the prism of genius
Clothes stunningly outrageous
By his own admission
Lyricist par excellence
But it was always
Watford Football club
Through thick and thin
Agony and adversity
At the heart of
Our familiar footballing
When your song
Was our song
There’s only one
Sir Elton John

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Remember those days.

You must remember those days of yore
When we were the burgeoning age of four
On the streets and roads
Where we unlocked the codes
Of youth and childhood
Or maybe we could
In rags and clothes with holes
Certainly not bowls
Over and over again
The pavement and fen
Rush goalie, three and in
Next to the welcoming bin
With tin cans and rolled up paper
The interminable caper
We rushed about furiously
Albeit curiously
Scampered and scurried
Permanently hurried
Man on, I’m unmarked
Oh how we larked
Give me the ball Joe
Please don’t go slow
Only the goalkeeper to beat
Score Joe, stay on your feet
Cross the ball my friend
On my head, the free kick bend
Mum’s calling us in for tea
But don’t forget me
Hit it, on the volley and half volley
Avoid that neglected trolley
The supermarket kind
Never a bind
But we loved the game
Not a hint of shame
Joe, beat the offside trap
No crowd applause or clap
Just the innocence of youth
We were never uncouth
Coats for goalposts
We were the perfect hosts
Our school friends
We trusted in possession
When matches were in session
With scuffed shoes, tangled laces
Ruddy complexioned faces
Pudding basin haircuts
No ifs or buts
3-0 down at half time
Shock, horror, that’s a crime
And the factory horns blared
Mum simply glared
Your defenders went missing
Come in now, the sun is glistening
Then fading light
Nothing to blight
That winger in full flight
Oh Joe you should have scored
We’ve never abhorred
Your style, lightning turn of pace
But this is no foot race
Pass, Joe, give me that ball
You couldn’t possibly stumble and fall
When fame and celebrity made its call
Against the Victorian wall
Over here Joe, street poet
Lovely ball control, show it
Beat the scruffy keeper from there
On pavements, even stones, and
And old dog bones,
With filthy school shirts
And girls with flirty skirts
We dropped our shoulders
Leapt over boulders
Beat the press
Nothing less
Five a sides
Above the fluctuating tides
Of late summer days
Tireless and evening greys
But come on everybody
We’ll play until dawn
On any lawn or patch of land
Once a bomb site, never bland
So childhood street football
We fondly did recall
Our devoted Sixties mate
Never a moment, you’ll be late
No time to waste
More haste
Come on Joe, double hat-trick
Please, you know you’re slick

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Mark Noble

Mark Noble claret and blue
Through and through
Mr West Ham
Farewell for now
But you’ll be back,
You’ll never lack
18 years at one club
Above the hubbub
It only seems like yesterday,
But never grey
Dedicated and loyal
Almost royal
Happy to be here
Without a care
And forever in the glow
The game seemed to flow

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Bring back the Home Internationals

May now bids farewell to football
Like the last train from Crewe
Steam pouring from its engine
Like the tearful clown who once
Knew the Premier League themes
Off by heart
But please cast your minds back
To the end of season Home Internationals
It was rather like that ornate bow or ribbon
On the most perfect chocolate box,
A quaint ending
Of football’s nine month gritty, winding road
The After Eight mint or Turkish delight
Accompaniment to that most pleasant
Of dinner parties among family or friends
It always followed the FA Cup Final
Unfailingly, invariably, properly
Like Boxing after Christmas Day
It was the light hearted and frivolous
Final act of
Knockabout fun,
A bit of a lark
In the park
Northern Ireland always meeting
Wales on the Friday night
Rather like the office annual
General Meeting,
You must take the minutes on
Charming reminiscences
On dropped points, crucial
Three points, offside by
A toe, elbow, chin, shoulder,
Eye lid, the extent of an arm
VAR, white sprays on lush green
Bones of contention, referees
Rushing over to see themselves on film
Controversies galore
Goals scored from distant corners
And impossible angles
Free kick thunderbolts
Now but another sharp intake of history
Just as the pubs across villages,
Towns and cities opened for
The Home Counties
Of England, Scotland, Wales
And Northern Ireland, friendly
Yet feisty gatherings of early
Summer jollity and cheerful
Cavorting among those old First
Division hard men cloggers
And delicate decorators
Winks and jokes
Home International frolics
In the amusement arcades
Of football’s pinball machines
Throwing off the earnestness
Of the football League season
Its nine month torture chamber
The serious derbies, managers
With remarkable beards, players
With bristly chins and outlandish
Tribal tattoos, promotion terrors
And relegation paranoias
So England would play Wales
And Scotland, at either Wembley,
Hampden or Windsor Park and
Ninian Park, where the Welsh dragon
Would always be available on the subs
Bench. Never forget the Welsh
Underestimate them at your peril
Home Counties loyalties would offer
Blissful escapism from season long
Injuries, transfer rumours, painful defeats
At home. How did that happen?
Teams on tenterhooks at the bottom
Of your division, teetering on the edge
On the frightening cliffside where your
Relegation haunted eleven could never be
Guaranteed your club’s stability
And then you thought back to those
Famous England- Scotland scraps and
Tussles, Confrontations reeking of
Nasty and acrimonious grudges
Over Hadrian’s Wall. Surely not
Bannockburn and Culloden again
In 1977 the Scots wrecked the hallowed
acres of the old Wembley, like marauding
Armies with bayonets and bravado
Perhaps an exaggeration but still a
Game on football’s crowded fixture list
Where fires and resentments
Of old, always burn deep into the night
Passionate voices on that distant day
Of 1977 when Scotland beat England
Gordon Mcqueen rose like a Scottish salmon
To head home past a gasping Ray Clemence
And Kenny Dalglish for whom goal scoring
Came naturally as drinking water or breathing
Did much as he pleased
Then riots and invasions scarred
Friendly pleasantries and exchanges
When the Tartan Hordes ripped down
Goal posts and cross bars, cracking and
Splitting open the Wembley woodwork
Like a statement of intent bent and twisted
Beyond recognition again and again
Your mind also reeled back
To Ninian Park when Brian Flynn,
Leighton James and John Toshack
Taunted and tormented England’s
Finest. Suddenly a goal to place
On the mantelpiece of memory
A Welsh masterpiece of intricate
One twos that sliced open the English
Defence like Sunday roast beef
A glorious shield to engrave in their hearts
And then there was George, oh gorgeous
George, the Best, masterful, nerveless,
Cool as a cucumber, unaffected by outside
Forces, imperturbable, radically ahead of his
Time, a vision of green Northern Irish beautiful
Sunsets dropping languidly over Protestant
And Catholic divides, a unifying force
Once against England at Windsor Park
Charged audaciously at the Banks of England
Gordon Banks, smiling, then bundling the ball
Out of the Banks hand and tapping the ball
Nonchalantly from his grasp like the child
Who grabs the gobstoppers and lemon sherbets
From the sweet jars of our young lives
For a penny or two
It was never likely to be a goal
But you had to admire the Irish blarney
Pluck, the litheness of the leprechaun
What a treat
Please breathe the life of resurrection
Into the blood vessels
Of the Home Internationals,
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern
Ireland on the same song sheet
They always have been
And always will.

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The Worst Match I Ever Saw

Notts County v Rochdale,
Meadow Lane, ’96.
Fog draped like a theatre curtain
over the halfway line.

Behind our goal with pie and peas
we watch the action fade away,
hoofed into the unknown,
dribbled into the mist.


Celebrations – Tanka

In Middlesbrough town
Max points bagged
Thanks to Spence, Djed Spence
Is licenced to score

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A day with orphans!

‘Who’ll hear the orphan’s cry?
‘They’re full of fear and dread’
We took our team on the road
To play football with them instead

Haji Eusuf orphanage, Chattak
We met 53 orphans that day
Zoinul and Moshahid had it all lined up
Rounding off with some sunset play

We took pictures and shared gifts
The orphans smiles put us to shame
We were itching to get on that pitch
To play the beautiful game

So gaffers Shaheed and Mehdi
List two orphan teams on a pad
Favourites Abdal, Waj, Abu, Yarimi
Bench stars Saif, Diya, Emdad

But we didn’t care for big names
The orphans were fighting fit
They ran and ran like Olympians
With us adding our little bit

I had to pull a trick for a goal
But then Yarimi beat the keeper
My shot came off the post
Diya pounced for the winner

With plenty game time left
It was time for a dirty prank
Poor Abdal smashed into the hoardings
Only way to stop that tank

With Abu pulling the strings
Saif was our brick wall
Ref Jay whistled to give us the win
Our orphans stood proud and tall

‘I’ve never seen them so happy,
‘I pray you’re all blessed from above’
A local expressed her feelings
On football spreading the love

At the Human Relief Foundation
Raisah’s match summary
Gobindogonj has played host to
The ‘best game in HRF history’

‘Who’ll hear the orphan’s cry?
‘They’re full of fear and dread’
We took our team on the road
To play football with them instead

© emdad rahman

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Larbi Ben Mbarek: The forgotten genius

The first to strike gold in Europe
Was that famous Black Pearl
Fondly known as Benbarek
To others the Moroccan Earl

El Ouatane aged fourteen
Honed the Black Pearl’s stealth
Two Spanish titles for El Prodigio
Order of Merit after his death

Forty three goals for Stade Français
As Larbi walked the walk
Fifty six as Spain’s Perla Negra
La perle noir du Maroc

From twenty Francs a day
An Iberian prince at Marseille
The first ever “black pearl”
Very high praise from Pele

Eight goals against Southend
A first French cap against Italy
War loomed and Larbi went home
With the arrival of the Nazi

French journalists raged in despair
When Atletico signed a cheque
One wrote; ‘Sell the Eiffel Tower,
But not Ben Barek’

Idéal Club Casablanca and US Marocaine
Stade Français adding spice
Atlético Madrid Los Rojiblancos
Where Larbi won La Liga twice

Nineteen caps for Les Bleus no myth
Danced on dictator Franco’s deck
Bel-Abbès and a stadium named
For Haj Abdelkader Larbi Ben M’barek

© emdad rahman

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Hands On Experience.

I see Terry Henry has been handed a gig
Assisting what is name, you know Martinez?
But Belgium aren’t renowned for playing hand-ball
As far as I can recall?
Though I’ve heard as a handy-man Terry Henry’s the biz?

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