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Everton in

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 It wasn’t supposed to happen like that
Recalling the oxymoron – friendly match
Pre-season friendly

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 Toffees in Brussels

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 A drive up the E19 to see the boys in blue
from Liverpool-land battling the capital’s finest –
Anderlecht

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 Sat amongst the English, we three Americans
Shared an almost common language
A common love of the English game

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 Those few hundred who ferried across the Mersey
Ferried across the English Channel
All in good spirits from their duty free spirits

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 Cheap beer. Cold beer. Continental sunshine.
Smiling Scousers. A selected few pissed Scousers.
Enjoying the day. Enjoying the moment.
Traveling with their beloved team. A dream.

7 Leave a comment on verse 7 0 Scattered little blue Liverpool lads. Bright faces.
Happy families. Prized blue Everton shirts.
Their lives sugary-sweet.

8 Leave a comment on verse 8 0 Then it happened.

9 Leave a comment on verse 9 0 Crammed down a little passageway to the visitors section
of a stadium in the Brussels badlands. Stuffed into an area
where there weren’t enough seats. Enough room to stand.

10 Leave a comment on verse 10 0 Tempers raised. Couldn’t see the bl**dy game.
The Belgians refusing to open the other sections of seats.
Nobody in charge. Perhaps what is expected of Brussels.
Teen-aged Flemish boys in orange steward vests
shrugging their shoulders. Young authoritarians sans authority.
My ticket useless because I was not allowed access to my seat.

11 Leave a comment on verse 11 0 A calm before the storm.

12 Leave a comment on verse 12 0 Someone heeds the advice of the ticket paying public and allows
More space in order to view the game.
Calmness. Good humor. Thick Scouser accents that needed
translating. Chatted with the traveling fans. Felt the vibes.
Drank the atmosphere. Discovered why Liverpool FC will
Always walk alone. Told of the soon to be introduced to the world
superstar kid called Rooney. Football was life. Life was good.

13 Leave a comment on verse 13 0 Half-time brought riot-gear clad police. Like a scene from a bad
made-for-television movie. Play for today. Not what we wanted.
Not what we needed. We wanted football. We wanted soccer.

14 Leave a comment on verse 14 0 Three Americans lost in a sea of Evertonians. Riding atop the
big blue wave. Time to turn in our surfboards. Just past half-time.
Head home. Avoid the scene that was brewing, unbeknownst to
English men, women and children enjoying a football match.

15 Leave a comment on verse 15 0 C’est pas possible, shouted the little lady with a big shield and even
Bigger stick. Squeezed in amongst her colleagues. Tall men. Big men.
Same big sticks from the same big tree.

16 Leave a comment on verse 16 0 You cannot leave. You must return to the stadium, the crooked nosed,
bug-eyed female individual insisted. Her shiny black helmet glistening.
The sun glaring off the face shields of the fifty-plus riot policemen.

17 Leave a comment on verse 17 0 What the hell is going on?????

18 Leave a comment on verse 18 0 No trouble anywhere. No hint of trouble. Only trouble was on the pitch.
Everton was losing. It didn’t matter. It was a practice game. A friendly.

19 Leave a comment on verse 19 0 The game ended. The police mobilized. Were reinforced with more in
the same intimidating black suits with black helmets and black sticks and
Clear Plexiglas shields that might as well have been black.

20 Leave a comment on verse 20 0 The English and the three Americans were stuck in this small arena.
Ordered not to try to leave. Not to move. Couldn’t move. Packed in.
Riot police came from both ends.
Children cried. Women screamed. Men protested and joined the chorus.

21 Leave a comment on verse 21 0 This was like a bad movie of prison riots without the rioting. Concentration
camps where freedom was taken away for no reason other than being
English.

22 Leave a comment on verse 22 0 Abused and lashed out at. Struck down. An Everton badge on a shirt like
A Star of David to the stick carriers. Water cannons at the ready. People
Ordered to go in one direction, forced in one direction by a wall of police,
In the direction of the cannons. Bodies flopping on the cobbled pavement
On the filthy streets, chased by shots of water. Cold water. Evil water.

23 Leave a comment on verse 23 0 Why are you doing this?, sobbed a pretty blonde woman with her pretty blonde
Son, sobbing hysterical. Snot running down his face. The redness bursting out of his crying eyes. A poor little lad who’s only crime was that he loved Everton and wore their colors.

6

Notes

Time has passed and I look back on that day. I had my ticket as a memento of that late Belgian afternoon. The melee. The disgusting behavior of those in charge. I remembered hearing about the kid Rooney and thought I would send him my ticket to sign so that I would have the day personalized by the kid without the red eyes and runny nose sobbing in an Everton FC shirt. I sent it off not a month after that fateful day. Over a year has left me. My memory is jaded but the ticket is gone. The kid Rooney never returned it. What a day.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/everton-in/