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Your rosette might have painted the first splash of blue
on the Anfield gates that Saturday the news from
Sheffield threatened to crush the spirit of Shankly.
You might even have been there, the Henry Winter
of your era, sharing Press Box disbelief to hear the final
whistle blow before anyone had time to catch their breath.
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Adoring both the Gwladys and the Kemlyn, football
was a double bill for you: Saturdays about you were
either end of Stanley park, entranced by Golden Visions
and Anfield Irons alike. Scrawling match reports
in the mist of smoke and breathings on bus windows,
you were grooming for a life soaked in printer’s ink.
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You alone in school knew the meaning of Nil Satis
Nisi Optimum, the origin of the tower on the crest,
and which of Mother Nobletts and Old Ma Bushell
won the toffee lady franchise wars. You were gone
before some Kop wag gave a handbag to Gordon West:
gone before we sang Careless Hands to Gary Sprake.
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A father bent and muted by the Hirohito camps, a mother
whose eyes could not lift higher than her prayer-gloved
hands, read the only headline to have your name below it.
A wreath of red, a wreath of blue, Aretha sang For All
We Know and left your parents pondering those things
that football’s more important than.