knees blooded & black with clarts: moist
troops in the reek of liniment & smoke:
the gaffa is steaming, hoofing the kit-bag,
eyes shooting daggers at les, the keeper.
four whole minutes of dry-mouth silence,
then tommy explodes: absolute shite!
every last one of you is playing like a turd!
& you les! you’re playing worse than shite!
& us, just slouched, like thirsty leaves,
like heavy corn glimpsing the scythe.
I am too sensitive to be a centre-back!
each attack stops my heart like an awkward question,
each panicked call of ‘clear it!’ like an oncoming car;
& it’s hardly surprising that the last man in defence
always looks much older than he actually is.
but the manager is deaf to my cris de coeur,
& reluctant to alter a winning team. he palms me off
with promises & praise, & usually I buy it, with my
appetite for eulogy & my vulnerable condition.
I get butterflies three days before kick-off,
have recurring dreams of underweighted back-passes
& headed own goals! I have become a mindless soldier,
conditioned to defend. I jump obediently at the captain’s
noisy words, & dive in selflessly where few would dare.
I trip & kick in the name of victory, sacrifice my
gentleness for the good of the team. & I have grown
to pathologically resent forwards for their complete lack of empathy:
& not just theirs, I hate ours more! I envy their goal tallies
& their penalty shouts, & their misguided wisdom from
the relative safety of the opposition’s box. I often imagine
methods of cruel torture for our gobby midfielders or
our egocentric strikers, who speak through their arses,
& only then in words of one syllable. it’s not that i’m bitter,
or a serious malcontent, but I wasn’t cut out for an unsung role,
& the crap they come out with would have galled a friggin’ saint.
& however good a tackle is, however spectacular a scissor-kick
clearance, or a sweetly timed lunge to prod away the ball,
it’s not a goal, & i’m rarely allowed to raise my arms or salute
the bench, & leap into the crowd to receive their adulation.
I have reconciled myself to inglorious duty, the bitter reality
that coach loads of travelling fans will never sing a chorus of
‘one paulie summers’; but I wish they’d understand when they
jeer my hurried slices, or boo my frantic hoofs, that i’m not that
happy to be playing as last man, & i’ve told the boss repeatedly
that I really am too sensitive.
is what john motson would have called it:
a ‘fracas’, a ‘rut’, perhaps making reference
to ‘handbags at ten paces’; their ugly number seven,
with his paul nicholas hairdo & the birdshit highlights,
& me, the great pacifist, with a momentary lapse;
our respective frowns knitted like gear cogs, our mouths
forming statements our mothers wouldn’t like.
blyth spartans 4, boston 3; & according to my dad, the greatest football moment to occur this side of war. i tell this tale often. tonight it’s to a fat bloke who is sat at the bar: he has just ‘found’ the game like others find god; preferring plato to platini in his previous incarnation: he raves about ‘the toon’ in commentator-speak, like a blind man with no nose describing a flower, & despite his enthusiasm he gets my goat: he has never played ‘three goals in’ with a balding tennis ball well after dark, never said ‘next goal wins’ with a trace of breathless optimism creeping into his voice or given up his jumper to act as a goalpost; he has never shed tears at the sound of a whistle, or exchanged vulgarities with a bearded centre-forward; he has never timed a volley so friggin’ sweetly that it bursts through the net like an anti-tank missile; or turned to his mates when he knows he’s got the winner. & then he sets off on a cantona rant, claiming that eric is a flash in the pan, ‘a gallic thug’ he dares to say, ‘with a modicum of skill’! so with my eyebrows at least, i make my saving tackle, i make a point of making a point that discovery & understanding are completely different things.
Addiction is an awful thing
Once it gets into your blood
It makes you do things you shouldn’t do
And ignore the things you should.
You could be addicted to smoking
Or drugs of any kind
Or maybe where your next drink is
That’s what’s on your mind.
But my addiction is success
I just can’t get enough
And waiting for our next game
I’m finding really tough.
Now we’re winning every match
I’m bitten by the bug
To see my team, perform so well
There’s no more powerful drug.
One game a week was all I’d need
But now I’d be a liar
If I said that one’s enough
To satisfy my desire.
International breaks are torture
That never seems to end
Waiting and waiting for my next fix
Just drives me round the bend.
Two weeks of cold turkey
It’s too much to endure
Another game, another win
That’s the only cure.
And goals are another addiction
That I urge the team to feed
Where one or two were once enough
Now it’s five or six I need.
So let’s get this season over
And get promoted to the Prem
A cure for my addiction will be
Losing to most of them!
No more negativity,
No more fearing the worst
No more thinking after three wins
The bubble is going to burst.
The players are full of confidence
The way that I should be
But after years of disappointment
It’s very hard for me.
I am very old you see
Have supported Wolves for years
And just when things are going well
The season usually ends in tears.
Nuno who? Never heard of him
He’s our manager and I’m told
That he’s brought in lots of players
Who aren’t very old
I see these boys run onto the field
And they tell me it’s my team
I shake my head, does not compute
This surely is a dream.
My Wolves have never played like this
They’re just huff and puff
They don’t dominate other teams
Playing this mesmerising stuff.
They ping the ball left and right
Just as fast as it can get
And before I see what’s happening
They have it in the net.
Who are all these young talents
Happy to don the old gold
Where has Jodi Craddock gone?
Don’t tell me he’s been sold.
I never really liked the Chinese
Not their customs or their food
But one thing you can’t deny
Their businessmen are shrewd.
And now that they own my club
I’m as happy as can be
Because now we’re making progress
The way we ought to be.
On my arrival in Lyon
I checked at the hotel
The room 116 !
Oh my ticket for
Lyon v Everton says
the row 16
the seat number was
207 and my date of birth 21/07
That is what I call
NATURAL EVERTON SUPPORTER
Jordan Pickford can do it all
Can become a legend like Neville Southall
Johnjoe Kenny can grab some fame as
Apprentice to our passionate pounding Seamus
Mason Holgate gets illumination cash-free
From rubbing shoulders with Jags and Ashley
Michael Keane can add his name
To Roy and Robbie in the hall of fame
Morgan Feeney’s heritage is Moore than handy
Bootling up the river to the Dock of Bramley
Benny Baningime’s from another great river
Thrown against the Lions and making tackles all a-quiver
Tom Davies with his hair and rolled-down socks
Energizing future captain in our energized cauldron dock?
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, that masked man, who?
Getting heaps of kemo sabes from Dixie to Lukaku
Ademola Lookman, jinxing angel with two wings
Look, man, you lively lads are future Dixie’s kings!
Hey David Henen will you get your chance?
And whatever happened to Shari Tarasaj?
What about other loanees, Galloway and Browning, On-
-Yeku and Connolly, Keiran Dowell and Pennington?
And we need Luke Garbutt backing Bainesy’s Wonderwall
With mod crossover music, from Wigan’s northern soul
And come on Ross Barkley, in your heart you know it’s true
It’s not about the money, it’s the diamond that is you!
anyone who’s been here
anyone at all
anyone who loves their club loves them rise or fall
if you’re superstitious
if you have a dream
you endure the ups and downs
following your team
ev’ryone goes through it
ev’ryone’s the same
but ev’ryone gets energized
when you win a game
pressure’s always present
even if the manager
swears it isn’t there
pressure on the terraces
pressure on the pitch
pressure if your club is poor
pressure if you’re rich
but no one can describe it
no one can explain
and no one hides their feelings
when you win again
It will be a pity
If we lose to City
But it won’t be a big surprise
Promotion is the aim
Not one day of fame
And Nuno has his eyes on the prize.
And if the cup final
Goes down the urinal
Well some may think that’s tough
But surely it’s right
To reach the top flight
And the silverware will come soon enough.