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It’s now August 19 – two-thousand-and-six,
Or is my mind simply playing me tricks?
The close season appears to get ever shorter,
Most welcome, I suspect, for the average supporter.
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Today it is way down south that we’re heading,
To watch as the Boro take on Steve Coppell’s Reading,
Who, it’s said, may be destined for speedy relegation,
But I still view this first game with great trepidation.
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It’s Gareth Southgate’s very first genuine test,
After recently donning the Boro manager’s vest,
He’ll find it terribly hard – I feel sure – to topple,
The Premiership’s new boys, led by manager, Steve Coppell.
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Bernie Slaven admits to being so apprehensive,
As the Boro launched into an instant offensive,
It’s end-to-end stuff, in which nobody hides,
A great, open start, by two well-fired-up sides.
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With just ten minutes gone we had Steve Coppell frowning,
As a textbook goal flew in, from the foot of Stewart Downing,
He’d coasted in on the blind side then had a real crack,
But credit for a great ball’s also due to Big Yak.
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Inside just ten more minutes the Boro reigned supreme,
The Yak scored a second and it seemed like a dream,
Rochemback’s fierce free kick saw the ‘keeper just parry,
And we then saw Yakubu as happy as Larry.
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But, we’ve all seen before Boro’s dreams turn so sour,
And we can’t expect Royals to just sit back and cower,
Mark Schwarzer’s kept busy: the game’s started to simmer,
Then Reading made it 2-1 and, of hope, they’d a glimmer.
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A scramble saw Kitson find the empty Boro net,
With Reading thrown a lifeline they became a great threat,
Then, within one more minute, Boro seemed worse for wear,
And their early dream now looked more like a nightmare.
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After such a bright start we had now slept in twice,
And the Royals, now rampant, ensured we paid the price,
When Sidwell scored a second there was total astonishment,
And the Boro, in the interval, deserved severe admonishment.
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The interval’s approaching and things could have been worse,
When Doyle missed applying the third dreaded curse,
We were, oh, so lucky we’d not once more tripped up,
And both managers’ proposed team talks could now be ripped up.
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The half-time score’s 2-2 but it might have been blacker,
Entertaining for sure and, for neutrals, a cracker,
We should have killed the game off in the first half-an-hour,
The home fans are vibrant and for us it’s turned sour.
We didn’t wait too long to see Boro marooned,
As sub. Leroy Lita rubbed more salt in the wound,
With the pressure increasing from Royals’ man, Doyle,
This remarkable recovery has the game on the boil.
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The Boro defended like so many scared rabbits,
As they often displayed many old, well-known habits,
And, dare I say, Boro were in a right mess?
The true answer, I’m afraid, is one resounding “Yes.”
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Viduka thought he’d equalised and turned in sheer elation,
Then the linesman, to our horror, quickly stopped the celebration,
The Hitman was onside, without a shadow of any doubt,
And the TV proved the linesman wrongly ruled a good goal out.
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So, we stuttered through the second half and we’re going home empty-handed,
We had started like a rocket but then suddenly it crash-landed,
The jubilant Royals’ fans enjoy the long, loud celebration,
For this result was, without question, an Opening Day Sensation.