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Down at the front, the lads gathered – schoolmates,
But out of school now; a Saturday freedom under the
Sharp October sun. Early birds got the best places,
Against a crush barrier or right behind the goal, to
Shout abuse at a hapless keeper as he’s beaten again.
A great laugh, for a few shillings – and a dash across
The pitch at full time, to mob their muddied heroes.
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Further back, the Dads – affable men in cloth caps and
Dowdy overcoats; Woodbines and Players smoked to
The tip, butts scattered on the concrete steps. They watch
On, resigned to their lot but relieved to snatch the company
Of workmates, away from the lathe and the nagging bosses.
They keep an eye on the kids, and let out the odd expletive
Or two; still enthralled by the people’s game before them.
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Old codgers, eccentrics waving grubby notebooks
At the ref; laughed at by the kids. Maybe not all
There, but part of the scenery. Part of the culture
Every match day – a strange comfort in their antics.
And everyone stood in the same place, friends and
Family, drinking pals or sometimes complete strangers,
All united by the team’s striving in a common cause.
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Long gone now, those days of rattles and rosettes;
Terraces despatched to history, the rough communal
Spirit vanished, as we sit in splendid isolation – the
Bonds that kept us safe and happy as passive punters
No longer there. It’s a cruel, hardened atmosphere in
The modern era; gestures and aggression in place of
Jostling camaraderie – the fans a mirror to the game.