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Maine Road Matchday ’69

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 Maine Road Matchday 69

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 A week at school wished away
Until at last it’s Saturday
Matchday
Maine road matchday
Solemn commitment to worried mum
“I’ll be ok, I’m meeting a schoolchum”
Usually a lie, sometimes true
Most times I don’t, now and then I do

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 Bus to Piccadilly, the 219
Passing by the Courtaulds sign
Straight to Lewis’s department store
TV showroom, fourth floor
An array of tellies for sale or for rent
A small crowd gathers, all male, one intent
To watch football previews – in colour! A proper treat
Then through the gardens to Aytoun Street
For the football special, a red routemaster
Though some days you could walk it faster

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 Unshaven men with unwashed hands
Wait for custom at burger stands
Stained white overalls define their style
Not seen Persil for quite a while
Grubby nails on nicotine fingers
Haven for germs to thrive and linger
Burgers stacked in a tepid lake
Laced with fag ash, almost opaque
Not exactly items to savour
Like soggy cardboard, with slightly less flavour
Vegans hadn’t been invented yet
But if they had you can bet
They could have dined here safely
(Other than the obligatory tummy upset)

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 Floodlight pylons, an arresting sight
Frame Moss Side drizzle in vibrant light
Fumble in pocket for half a crown
Through creaking turnstiles, put the money down
Programme seller, refreshment stand
Last few coppers clasped in hand
Flat capped men clutch cups of Bovril
Repulsive odour fills the nostrils
Not a drink for little boys
Kia-Ora orange, that’s my choice
Money less than wisely spent
Real fruit content zero percent

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 Now time to spend another penny
But so few facilities for so many
Cascading rivers of metabolised booze
Fag ends hurtling along like canoes
Shooting the rapids, though this water’s not white
The stench unspeakable, that can’t be right
Is this what it’s like in a man’s world?

7 Leave a comment on verse 7 0 All set to ascend the stairway to heaven
To watch my heroes, one to eleven
Hordes of eager trampling feet
Pound on steps of crumbling concrete
Disintegration into rubble
Can only mean impending trouble
Paint peels on rusting railings,
Glaring health and safety failings
Never properly put to the test
Fingers crossed and hope for the best
Ibrox, two years on, 66 die
There, but for the grace of god, go I

8 Leave a comment on verse 8 0 Out come the teams to do their worst
Opponents first, always opponents first
“Bring on the champions” the Kippax boys roar
Even though we’re not champions any more
But we are still pretty damn good
Even on a pitch awash with mud
No names on the back of those shirts of sky blue
But I don’t even need numbers to tell who’s who
Bell’s athletic, imperious stride,
Lee chest out, bursting with pride,
Young floating with balletic grace
Book’s hunched gait and unlikely pace
I gaze out in awe, mesmerised
Precious images forever prized

9 Leave a comment on verse 9 0 Crowd disturbance, a sudden buzz
Rival fans on the loose, here come the fuzz
For those around me a huge distraction
But my eyes stay fixed on the action
People lean across for a better view
And I just think “what’s wrong with you?”
Our games aren’t on telly, well hardly ever
So blink and you’ll have missed it, forever
Giving morons the oxygen of attention
Even then well beyond my comprehension

10 Leave a comment on verse 10 0 Final whistle, don’t see me for dust
Sprinting away to run for the bus
At speed through dithering crowds I go
Sit next to someone with a radio
Final scores and reports from familiar voices
If United have lost the whole bus rejoices
At last Piccadilly, will the Pinks have arrived?
Was that first goal offside? Will they say Franny dived?

11 Leave a comment on verse 11 0 Read the Pink on the bus, cover to cover
Even the letters page, why do these people bother?
Relentless banality, always the same
From armchair experts, never been to a game

12 Leave a comment on verse 12 0 Walk home from the bus station, knock at the door
Mum’s there to meet me, she knows the score
Mood wholly dependent on how well we’ve done
Tea always tastes that much better if we’ve won
Then The Avengers and Match of the Day
Followed by Sunday grisly Sunday
The looming grim spectre of school on Monday
But Wednesday evening we’re at home again
Another trip to Maine Road’s my week’s only aim
Planting the seeds, night after night
Please mum, it’ll be alright
Some lads from school are going…

8

Notes

This is a nostalgic poem about being a 12 year-old boy who hated school and lived for Saturday afternoons. It tries to capture the sights, sounds, smells and excitement of those wonderful days at Maine Road.

I always preferred to go to games on my own (though often there was no choice, as all the other kids on the estate supported United!) primarily so that I could stand exactly where I wanted to on the terraces.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/maine-road-matchday-69/