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It was a three-quarters empty local, one day
That took me to Hungerford where an old junkshop
Half-way up the High Street, beckoned.
Eschewing decanters, horse-brasses, and genteel bric-a -brac
I finally struck gold in the “old books” section
In an alcove entitled “football”
There, tidily shelved, were the men from the fifties
Jimmy McIlroy, Danny Blanchflower, Johnny Haynes
Each one Brylcreemed and winsome
And beyond the open rows, the real collectors’ item
A two shilling illustrated Panther
Entitled “Captain of Hungary” by Ferenc Puskas.
A feast of classic black-and-white prints
Of that famous match when they won six-three.
“We stayed at the Cumberland Hotel” said he
“With a lovely view over Hyde Park, smart and gay
The match was played at Wembley next day ”
I glance to see when it was published.
And see “spring nineteen fifty six.”
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A lost age of innocence before things fall apart
Flight to Real Madrid and the opulent west
An improbable appearance in the Chile World Cup
In the colours of Spain
Then the long descent
Through exile and oblivion
Into impoverished obscurity
The football world, searching for the galloping major
Found only private despair
And later, death.
But the best still lives on
Captured in his book
This book which I hold between my hands
Here and in England
Ferenc Puskas, Captain of Hungary
I can salute you.