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He came among us, sitting down now of course,
No standing room anymore. He could not even
Light his pipe – no smoking allowed in the stand.
And what did he notice, these long years gone
By…well, the field remains rectangular, the ball
Is still round. That much is assured, but what else.
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No more cloth caps swaying to and fro, and the
Oaths are tempered, local accents mingled with
Smoother vowels. Simple emotions vented loud.
But now there’s real malice from the mouths of
Kids in team shirts and overweight men in their
Baseball caps. A spiteful streak colouring words.
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No longer the few pennies scraped out out of the
Dole, or the slender pay packet. Now it’s season
Tickets all round, costs and consequences damned.
And home they go in their 4 x 4s, even out before
The last whistle. Remote from each other. Melting
Into HDTV suburbia, as the pubs are boarded up.
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So what did the author think, on his Bruddersford
Return ? Still a game that exudes Conflict and Art,
For sure. But more frantic, less skilful; less sporting,
More driven. And it survives – beyond the greed, the
Hype, beyond the corruption, the politics. It survives.
With a spirit that even Mr Priestley would commend.