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58 Years

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 Gareth Bale, Wales vs. Slovakia, Euro 2016 Group B,
Bordeaux, France, 11th June 2016

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 He’s hit free kicks before.
Lifted them over memories
of spurned chances,
missed penalties.
Bent them round the shadows
of an unjust sporting past:
an East German and his missing flag,
a toothless Scot’s veiled fist.
Some nestled in side-netting,
while others found a postage stamp.
Each one sent home dulls the thwack
of Bodin and his crossbar.

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 This one soars.
Not just above a Slovak wall,
six men wide, but beyond
the Nouveau Stade,
the French countryside.
Across the Severn Sea to land
in living rooms
and pubs and clubs,
to break a stretching absence heard
through fifty-eight tormented years.
As Kozáčik empties his net,
a nation cheers, for this reset.

6

Notes

Fifty-eight years is the length of time between the Wales men’s national football team qualifying for the World Cup in 1958 and then reaching another major international tournament in 2016. In the time between, Welsh football fans were treated to a seemingly constant cycle of crushing lows and false dawns. The first stanza of this poem includes references to matches in 1976, 1977 and 1993, where Wales were painfully close to breaking their qualifying hoodoo.

Poem first published in That Lone Ship (Parthian Books, 2018).

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/58-years/