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We were playing on a Sunday versus non-league opposition,
In the third round of the Cup three years ago,
And I took my seat in Tolka in my usual position
And I settled down to watch the ebb and flow.
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There was to be no upset, Shels were comfortably on top,
It wasn’t very long before we scored.
We notched another cracker, then we simply shut up shop,
No fingernails needing to be gnawed.
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Now Shelbourne had a black lad by the name of Johnny Powell,
I have to say, he wasn’t up to much.
He was big and he was fast but all he seemed to do was foul,
Because he had a terrible first touch.
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Now the opposition’s followers were seated in the stand,
Not that far behind where I was sitting.
There weren’t that very many and sure most of them were grand,
But one bright individual had me spitting.
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He kept on calling Johnny Powell a “something something nigger”
With monkey noises thrown in for the craic,
And every time he did this, someone near to him would snigger,
Which egged him on to further his attack.
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Each and every time that poor old Johnny got the ball,
The monkey chant would stridently resound,
But no-one in our section thought to challenge him at all,
Although he could be heard throughout the ground.
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I tried hard to ignore him, I tried hard to stay serene,
But a nerve kept throbbing loudly in my head.
I knew I ought to tackle him, I ought to intervene,
But thoughts of it were filling me with dread.
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What if he were six foot six? What if he had a knife?
What if his mates jumped up to his defence?
What if he kicked me to within a whisker of my life?
Was I the only one that took offence?
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But all the time I knew my yellow streak was quite appalling,
Evil laughed and I just turned and ran.
I felt like Kenny Rogers when the Gatlin Boys came calling,
Sometimes you’ve got to fight when you’re a man.
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So I started to prepare for my heroic intervention.
I figured out exactly what I’d say.
My left leg started shaking with the fast-increasing tension,
As my great defining moment came my way.
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The ball was played to Johnny, and I listened and I waited,
And sure enough, the monkey chant arose.
But once again I bit my bottom lip and hesitated,
As my heart and all my inner organs froze.
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But then a woman near me, somewhat middle-aged and small,
Jumped up and turned around to face this lout,
And she roared at him with feeling ‘bout his ignorance and gall,
And how had his racist notions come about?
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And if one more foul obscenity or monkey chant was heard,
If golliwogs or sambos were suggested,
If he had the neck to utter one more tiresome, racist word,
She’d make damned sure that he would be arrested.
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Well the crowd just went ballistic, they all stood up and they cheered,
And the whole stand shook to deafening applause,
Totally at odds with the reaction I had feared,
Procrastination didn’t have just cause.
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I felt emasculated, like a grubby, little worm,
All my noble feelings had been soured,
And every time I think of it, I can do naught but squirm,
For who is worse, the racist or the coward?
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I tried hard to convince myself that I was not alone,
For many others must have felt like me.
But I know that staying silent gave the notion I condone
That lowest form of racist bigotry.
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I’ve heard no racist chanting since that dank and dismal day.
I suppose I should be thankful for that. Still I
Wonder if the next time I will act a different way.
I like to think I will, but frankly, will I?