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The atmosphere around the ground was so thick it was spreadable.
For weeks we’d thought of little else, the tension was incredible.
All wound up to get at Spain and claim the two points needed,
The caution of the realists went very much unheeded.
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Sure, didn’t we get a draw in Spain? The Sevillians had been cowed,
And Aldo even had a goal unjustly disallowed.
They wouldn’t relish playing here, their chances would be slender,
We’d pressurise them from the off and force them to surrender.
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Big Jack went for 4-5-1, with Quinn up front alone,
And here and there among the crowd was heard a plaintive groan.
But mostly we were on a high – Jack knew what he was doing,
And nobody suspected the disaster that was brewing.
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Thirty minutes on the clock, our World Cup dreams were shattered.
Three times did the Spanish forwards snatch the goals that mattered.
Our sails were limp and windless, as we watched with great contrition,
Succumbing very meekly to the Spanish inquisition.
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Of course, the game was over, and the crowd was quite subdued.
We’d been so sure we’d hit the net, we’d hopelessly miscued.
The Spanish were delirious and waved their red scarves proudly,
Dancing on their sectioned seats and chanting very loudly.
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The Spaniards took the pressure off, though still in clear control,
As we hustled and we bustled in attempts to find a goal.
We switched it back to 4-4-2 and got some more possession,
But had no joy until the middle of the second session.
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Houghton found John Sheridan, who had been quite impressive,
Threading passes here and there and being most expressive.
He skipped around some tackles with redoubtable persistence,
Then passed the ball into the net from barely six yards distance.
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The crowd’s response was fairly mute, half-heartedly they cheered,
For many of our so-called loyal fans had disappeared.
A poor reward, one reasoned, for the way he found the net,
Although it’s true significance was not apparent yet.
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It saw us to America, that “consolation” shot,
As Denmark failed by just one goal to gain that second spot.
That super strike from Sheridan thus brought us to salvation,
Though, to our shame, it garnered such a very poor ovation.