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Here they come again, a horde of visiting supporters,
Swaggering along past my house,
On their way to the nearby Stadium.
All wearing the same Replica Shirt, the same scarf,
Chanting their moronic mantras, their “’Erewegos”, their “We are Top the Leagues”,
Brains left at home, individuality forfeited.
I called them a “horde”. I should have said “herd”.
If some Hitler, or Hoxha, or Hussein were to place himself at their head,
There’s no telling what they might get up to.
I cringe and peer at them through haste-drawn blinds.
I dread their regular fortnightly calls.
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Of course, things were much worse some years back.
They used to smash my window panes, trample over my flowerbeds.
Now they are more docile, cowed by Stewards and CCTV.
Still, don’t believe they would not run amok if given half a chance.
The Beast in them is muzzled, but not tamed.
Just look at how their sort behave when let loose abroad.
Ask the good citizens of Charleroi, Marseille, Goteborg.
And even in their current less menacing guise, they make my stomach churn.
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They subsist on a diet of beer and burgers, Bovril and butties.
They squander huge amounts of time and money
To travel up, down, across the country.
For what? To sit and watch a senseless sport!
To see twenty-two men in shorts chasing a ball.
Where’s the attraction in that? I cannot fathom it.
If they must waste their weekends on this pastime,
Could they not actually play the blasted game?
It would be cheaper, more healthy.
But no, they crouch and stare…so inert, so passive!
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Why don’t they channel their energy into something more constructive?
Redecorate their living room. Raise funds for charity. Campaign against landmines.
Instead, here they are, week in, week out, gawping at this idle distraction.
Oversized kids I consider them. When will they grow up?
The infantile antics they indulge in when their team scores!
Going into paroxysms of delight, simply because a ball has crossed a line.
How then, I wonder, would they greet the Second Coming?
The outbreak of World Peace? The finding of a cure for Heart Disease?
All pale into insignificance compared to a goal from one of their idols.
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A mystery to me why such devotion is inspired by those they pay so much to watch.
They have no genuine connection with the towns or cities they claim to represent.
It’s not as if they really hailed from Birmingham, Manchester or wherever.
They are merely a bunch of hired guns,
Who sell their services to the highest bidder.
And they’ll be quite happy to switch sides,
If you dangle a bit more cash under their noses.
Yet here they are again, these wretched fans, hurrying to the Venue.
In a couple of hours, they’ll be streaming in the opposite direction.
Whooping if they got a satisfactory result. Sullen and crestfallen if they lost.
It beats me. I cannot understand it. I give up.
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Once, when I was younger, at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting,
Someone suggested that I try attending a football match.
They thought it could be a helpful diversion –
Drown out the voice within me screaming for a drop.
Eventually, with support from family and friends,
I won my battle with the bottle.
But I could never summon up the nerve
To make the short trip to my local Ground.
For fear this baffling Game of theirs might prove
A drug more strong than love, or death, or truth.