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Down in a pub on Dublin’s quays,
I drank my pint with carefree ease.
Above the bar, a fuzzy screen
Showed football. Not the Boys in Green,
But Scotland playing in Sofia.
And though the picture wasn’t clear,
We knew the Bulgars were on top
And soon our dreams would slow, then stop.
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The qualifiers were nearly o’er,
And though we had come to the fore,
Bulgaria needed but a point
To put our noses out of joint.
Nobody thought the Scots could win,
Prepared to take it on the chin.
And so unconfident were we
The people watching numbered three.
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Chances came and chances went.
The ball, it seemed, the whole time spent
In Scotland’s half – and thus our hopes
Were swaying madly on the ropes.
But then, with minutes left but few,
The customers (now numbered two –
Myself and some lad in a cap
Who seemed to be a daycent chap)
Sat open-mouthed in disbelief
As Scotland, like a brazen thief,
Broke once upfield and young Mackay
Became the apple of Ireland’s eye
By firing left foot low and hard
To catch their keeper off his guard.
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We stared, our minds engulfed in cloud.
Was it a goal, or disallowed?
A goal! A goal! We yelled and screamed –
All hell had broken loose, it seemed.
Bulgaria threw everything
Into attack. Balls down the wing
Came sailing o’er, attackers leapt,
But somehow Scots defenders kept
Them out. One shot then struck the post!
Sweet Lord, it really was the most
Nerve-wracking time I’ve ever spent –
The pressure did not once relent.