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On the bench, thermos and cigarette in hand;
Hunched against the elements but ready to
Bark out instructions – be they heard, or not.
Heavy overcoat; collar, tie, hair greased back
Against the rain as it slants across the ground.
Finger points, fists clench in anger, or delight;
The trainer sprints away to attend, then back
For shelter – mud-spattered and bedraggled.
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Second half; another ciggy after the pep talk
Has sunk in – so well they give away the second.
Another ciggy, head in hands. Despair turns to
Hope when they pull one back, nerves on edge;
A dangerous occupation, for sure. Rain drips off
The dug-out roof into a puddle on the touchline.
Patrons from the enclosure behind shout abuse –
At the team, the referee, the other lot – and him.
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Then, it’s over – this war of attrition; no quarter
Given on a field of stud-pocked mud and water.
But they lost. The End. So it’s a slog, it’s a living.
Stuck for ninety minutes, squashed up tight with
A worm’s eye view of the game. Just the trusty
Sponge man and the Sub for company. No leg
Room, no Technical Area, no energy drinks. Just
Sat on your bum, getting wetter, colder and older.