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Whenever the World Cup comes around, you can bet your bottom dollar that many’ll
Plump for Brazil in this super-hyped, global quadrennial,
Supposedly playing their football with an infectious joie-de-vivre
Not found in any English text-book, German Textbuch or French text livre.
And of course the swaying of the Samba is an image that always lingers,
Though doubtless Craig Revell-Horwood would have a lot to say about the positioning of the fingers.
And the first thing people want to know when the opening ceremony has come and gone
Is “When is the Brazil match on?”
And they sit down with their lagers to watch those Gods-with-miraculous-skills-anointed
And are invariably disappointed.
Those of us of a certain vintage remember a hazy, crackling grey and white tellay
On which we first glimpsed Jairzinho, Tostao, Gerson and Pele
And marvelled at their flamboyant skill
And the ease with which they beat very good players from other countries at will.
They didn’t just play with the ball, they seemed to own it.
It really was football as we had never known it.
And to the detriment of the current crop of Brazilians,
We will never forget their forefathers’ brilliance
In much the same way that the English players all seem to come off worst
At the mere mention of Moore and Stiles and Charlton and Hurst.
To be fair, now and again, a Brazilian team will ratch it up a few degrees
(I’m thinking mailnly of the eighties team that included Junior and Socrates)
Or a Ronaldo or a Ronaldinho will come along
To lead the faithful in song,
But mostly the football never leaves up to the hype,
For modern footballers of every nation all seem to revert to type.
Rivelinho and Clodoaldo would never have chased after referees brandishing imaginary reds;
Pele and Gerson would not receive slight slaps on the back and go down clutching their heads;
And can you, for one second, imagine Carlos Alberto rolling over
Nineteen times in the clover,
If somebody breathed on him too hard
In the hope of the perpetrator receiving a yellow card?
These days, there are many, many millions
Still caught up in the hype surrounding the Brazilians,
And to be fair to them, God bless their resilience,
But in reality, there are several other teams,
Better qualified to serve up the football of our dreams.
Captain hollered, “Kev!
Fella’s hurted his leg*
Need you to take his place, and go in goal”?
Pulling on the goalies top,
A hurried sign of the cross
I ran out with the chaps to face our foe.
Battered, bruised, we sweated blood
On a field of energy sapping mud
Battling hard to fight the fight as one
Bouts of fisticuffs tis true
Desperate tactics rarely used
One man down, in fear of being over-run?
Sly kicks at a fella’s shin
A crafty head-butt to the chin
Retribution for their crocking our poor goalie
Eventually evening that score
One or two let out a roar
To a knelt knee in a place considered holy?
You could say the game was fraught
With the fracas being fought
Well at odds with sportsmanship and fair play?
Your man on the touch-line crying
Our chance of victory subsiding
Spurred mere kids to gladiators primed to fray.
Times your enemy, dog tired
Every shot at me they fired
Seemed to knock me down, hit the woodwork, or plain miss
A couple I managed to save on purpose
Left me winded, bruised and curious…
Enough to scold myself, I didn’t… bleating volunteer for this?
The long and short of it…a draw
and the ear shattering furore,
At the whistle, a moment rare amongst our lot
Sinking exhausted to the soil,
Bruised brown from our toil
To overcome the odds, dishing out as we had got.
There weren’t no winners, cups, a medal
Climbing high upon a pedestal
Acknowledging a wonderful victory or ones dream
Despite being dropped in the excrement together
We made light of heavy weather
Clichés, yet apt in summing up…our team.
A Clapham Common bus-stop
On a morning ne’er to be forgot
I lit a thrupenny loose, and puffed contentedly away
At what? Maybe nine-ten years of age?
I came to realize that day, gazing on the Elysian (LCC) fields of play…*
If your keepers crocked, let some other stupid eejit take his place.
A is for Albion. The boys done us proud. Laud ‘em out loud.
B is for Brexit. No mention, amongst the tension, until of course, Brazil exit early. Spot the surly.
C is for Charades (see VAR). Replaces the imaginary waving of cards.
D is for Deutschland über alles? NEIN! Defending champs – in decline.
E is for Engerrlun! We dared to dream, so proud of the team.
F is for Fourth, a satisfactory conclusion, met with complimentary effusion. Also;
FCHS: Football’s Coming Home Syndrome: a contagious delusion.
G is for GLT: irrefutable, technology done right, no confusion.
H is for Holland – no, not the Oranjeboom, but assistant Steve – & set pieces he’ll conceive! Also:
Hat-trick Hero Harry! No thought of defeat.
I is for It’s Coming Home! Repeat and repeat!
J is for Jordan: no, not the country, but messers Henderson & Pickford, Mackem mates.
K is for captain Kane: we salute one of the greats.
L is for Last Legs – true warriors give their all
M is for Messi – didn’t see enough of the ball.
N is for Novichok – no not a stadium! To conspiracy theorists, it could have been
such a poisonous semi-final match!
with Medics required, for every single scratch!
O is for Ospina, saved one penalty, but thankfully not Eric Dier’s!
P is for Pure poetry – it never tires!
Q is for Qatar next up, to host World Cup.
R is for Russia – all bow to our fabulous hosts. From Arctic Circle, to Caspian coasts.
S is for St George’s flag – proudly displayed, courage conveyed.
T is for Telstar 18 – official World Cup ball
U is for unreserved admiration, to one and all
V is for VAR – a new form of entertainment – valiant arbitrary randomness!
W is for Waistcoat – cue dapper Gareth. Also:
Winners: France, witness the victory dance. Also:
Wild Boar FC – a story bigger than the World Cup?!? The impossible happened.
Kudos to the rescuers and survivors.
Took our minds away, from the wrong kind of divers!
X is for Xherdan Shaqiri – from Swiss ‘burbs, upsetting the Serbs, with flag on his boots,
proud of his Kosovan roots.
Y is for Yeltsin, Putin, Gorbachev, Marx – you should be proud of your comrades,
in the fan-friendly parks.
Z is for Zabivaka – official mascot: Wolf “The one who scores”; (with great big paws); also
Zero violence, zero mess: the tournament = 100%, a great success!!!
We’ve criss-crossed the country
taken Steppes small and large
travelled alone or in convoys
by plane, train or barge
first intentions were
that we weren’t to get lost
but as we familiarised on the journey
we fortified and then bossed
we’ve taken in the sights as we trekked:
Volgograd; Mizhny Novgorod;
Kaliningrad; Moscow; Samara
and next we’re heading…
to somewhere by the Sahara??? **
improvement and betterment
will be the order of the day
an aggregation of marginal gains
as we wend our merry way
and as this journey lengthens
I’m sure we’ll have cause to fret
with constant self-examination… but….
are we nearly there yet?!?!?!
Parc de Triomphe
Mbappe inspires the Gauls
Allez Les Blues
Runners up, yet
Croatia proud as can be
Gave it their all
Got what we wanted
Six goal fitting finale
World Champions France
Final had it all
Six goals and V.A.R. too
Cryuff of the Balkans
Player of the Tournament
Runners up medal
Magnificent net minder
Golden Gloves award
Arise Sir Harry!
Six goals netted overall
Golden Boot award
Third or fourth
Does it really matter?
Should it matter?
For there is no head-upon-a-platter
Then what of the prize money?
I’m not being funny
But there is only 2 million FIFA shekels
In the difference
As to the game:
Southgate tinkered, Martinez went for the max;
Belgium had more attacks
And more goals
Than Albion’s tired souls
England’s Rose caught asleep at the wheel
And allowed Meunier to steal
And convert Chadli’s expert cross;
Les Diablo Rouges, continue to boss
The first 45.
Second half is better for England
But they let in a 2nd goal
A nightmare scene
When Hazard cuts across Phil Jones
Mirroring Trump’s faux pas with the Queen!
Off with his head!
Corner kick in his mind
Eyeballs the monitor behind
Before racing back on to the field…
Vlad appears on the miniature screen
Snarling, broody like, mean,
“Right sunbeam this here’s the deal…
Your blossoming movie career
Unless them French boys get awarded this pen
I’m meeting McDonald in Helsinki this week
Could pull a few Hollywood strings so to speak?
Or there’s the Gulag my son, then again…”?
Said pen gets knocked in
France go on and win
Croatia’s complaints – like their hopes – disappear
In a Moscow hotel bathroom mirror
A referee takes time out to deliver
His winning speech for The Oscars next year.
Does the above make any sense?
Or am I talking absolute nonsense?
Well…no-one’s saying you have to believe me?
But this here conspiracy theory
Holds more credence, I’m sure you’ll agree,
Than yesterdays VARsical World Cup reality?
I watched Croatia versus France –
The Final is a must!
But all the time kept thinking
That it could have been us.
Us out there on that Moscow pitch,
Us strutting proud our stuff,
The Trophy giving a fond kiss,
And holding it aloft.
We finished fourth, and that’s quite good,
And yet, not good enough –
Another team has claimed the Prize
We thought was due to us.
All credit to our Gallic pals,
They’re taking home the Cup,
And hats off to Croatia,
Who gave them a good run.
The match was fine, result was right,
We can’t complain or fuss.
But think, it just so easily
Could have been us, us, us.
Denys E. W. Jones
France 4-2 Croatia
spoiling things again
VAR the villain here
on this final night
never lying down
oh how brave Croatia fought
when injustice reigned
never at their best
once again Les Bleus emerge
trophy in their hands
yes they have the skills
in Pogba and Mbappe
but only in bursts
one strange ending this
to a wild enthralling month
here in Russian rain
Outplayed France win The World Cup
I louldly explete…”Griezmann! You no-good…….cheat”
At his theatrics performed for the first
Les Bleus second is worse
Even with VAR, a VAR*
Still managed to kick HVR right in the teeth
Mind you, how I laughed…at the farcical antics of Hugo Lloris.