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On Middlebrook Boulevard

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 The stars were trodden down
in an atrium of enclosed sound.

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 There’s a tribute to Big Sam
on the floor of Middlebrook Boulevard
where dignitaries illumine stars
for shoppers then to walk upon.

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 I’ve been to Bolton several times
but I haven’t been to Bolton once

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 or walked to Burnden Park.
I wonder what to make of this
as names are walked upon carelessly
in a monument to the temporary.

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 Bury me here, in a retail park
now time won’t go straight
forward or back.

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 It’s like a mirror ball
in which I see its strange projections,
my reflection in a trick of light.

Modern grounds are often condemned as soulless, but I only agree with that description up to a point; it’s not for an outsider to judge. Often now the physical locations of grounds are divorced from the majority of a club’s history, and are not embedded in a residential community as they once were. I think this can create a sense of dislocation, and an alternate reality which might make it difficult for home fans to connect with their history and away fans to understand the character of a place, but it’s not always an unpleasant experience. The Reebok Stadium, for example, is one of my family’s favourite to visit for a variety of reasons; good accessibility, a friendly atmosphere and great facilities can, in reality, be the difference between attending and not attending, especially when travelling a long distance. And sometimes echoes of the past can emerge in unlikely places- even a shopping mall- and that’s why I would deem the ‘soulless stadium’ tag unfair. After all it’s the fans and the people of the town who carry the identity or ‘soul’ of a place within them; it’s just not always a straight-forward connection to make.

‘Middlebrook’ is the name of the retail park next to the stadium in Bolton.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/on-middlebrook-boulevard/