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My first memory was Sweden in nineteen fifty eight.
Climbing out of bed, aged seven, I crept downstairs
To the strains of the German anthem
“Glorious things of thee are spoken”
Felt joy as plucky Sweden won the day.
Then darkness outside
Inside, the radio’s sigh. Rahn, Fritz Walter, Liebrecht; Schaeffer, Eckel, Mai.
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World Cup in England. Nineteen sixty-six.
Tickets for Goodison. Saw a banana kick from Garrincha
Samba-danced through Stanley Park,
Then back to Preston and school.
Late afternoon outside
Inside, the radio’s call. Wilson, Cohen, Charlton; Peters, Charlton, Ball.
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World Cup in colour. Seventy. Mexico.
Watching in a café ( in France and in love).
Blood drained from bold red shirts, as survival slipped away
Then Brazil made hay.
Outside, the brightest day. Gerson, Tostao, Jairzinho; Carlos Alberto, Pelé.
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Italy in nineteen ninety.
And Pavarotti’s voice
Expressed our national yearning
To be near, so near, but far.
Now morning outside
Desire, like memory, fading in the light. Gascoigne, Platt and Beardsley; Lineker, Pearce, Wright
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Many years later; ninety-eight in France.
Slipping out of the house, for once, to the pub upon the Green.
Crowding, jostling,cursing, but gripped by the television screen.
In France, the spin of a coin.
Beckham, Scholes and Anderton; Batty, Shearer, Owen.
Sometimes, though we haven’t a prayer
We go on hoping still
Who can give us glory?
This year, this month, Brazil!
Inside, the new dreams start
Rooney, Baines or Gerrard? Welbeck? Sterling? Hart?