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Ninety years on, a Sommebre time that once
Touched so many homes across northern and
Midland conurbations – where your team took
Pride of place amongst the smoke stacks, the
Slag heaps, the narrow back to back dwellings.
When the men formed pals’ battalions – to fight
Together for King and Country, in the end often
To die together. Nineteen thousand perished that
First, tragic day – around the same number as
Would fill the ground for a Cup tie, or local derby.
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Ordinary lads, from the pits, from the mills and the
Factories – pale, thin, limited horizons. Thrust
Into a hellish conflict that made United versus City
Seem like an alleyway kickabout. Out of sodden
Trenches, over the top – walking towards destiny;
Except destiny was a barrage of German gun fire.
No matter, their courage held – and more were soon
To follow on; from the same towns, the same streets.
Football in their blood, as players or fans – shed on
Flanders fields in poppy red kit, staining the soil.