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The Ballad of Patrick O’Connell

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 He was born in old Ireland in March ’87,
Scarce knowing the troubles that fate held in store.
For ‘ere he did grace the smooth pitches of heaven,
He found lasting fame on a faraway shore.

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 Patrick O’Connell, accomplished defender,
United’s first captain from Erin’s green land,
His playing days over, he kept his agenda,
And his management skills made him much in demand.

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 He headed to Spain to coach Racing Santander,
As Ireland imploded in fierce Civil War,
And the Catalans took to the wayward Irelander,
As for seven long years he kept them to the fore.

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 And then he joined Betis where, just two yeas later,
The Championship fell to this gallant young man.
By now he’d no need of a Spanish translator,
Fluent in language and charm and élan.

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 Then Barca came calling and Patrick responded,
Though the once mighty giants were down on their knees.
As usual, his players became tightly bonded,
With the Catalan championship won by degrees.

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 When the Civil War broke, he was home on vacation,
But he hurried to Spain to be there with his side.
And they triumphed again to immense adulation,
Despite all the horrors washed upon the tide.

7 Leave a comment on verse 7 0 The Barcelona president, a left politician,
Was murdered by fascists and the future looked grim.
Then Franco decreed that next year’s competition
Could only be played by clubs loyal to him.

8 Leave a comment on verse 8 0 The city in turmoil, all honour diminished,
And murder and mayhem a most constant threat,
No income, no games, Barcelona were finished,
The clubs faced a bankrupting slide into debt.

9 Leave a comment on verse 9 0 Then Patrick O’Connell led them from the city,
In order to play on a Mexican tour.
The financial offer was not made from pity,
For the Catalan team were still held in great awe.

10 Leave a comment on verse 10 0 Three weeks, it transpired, was too short a duration,
And so it was stretched, as a players’ reward.
Returning by boat to a fractious new nation,
O’Connell had only four players on board.

11 Leave a comment on verse 11 0 Now Franco was always a Real supporter,
And Barca’s officials were quickly replaced.
The logic in that didn’t hold too much water,
With talented people just going to waste.

12 Leave a comment on verse 12 0 Patrick was ousted, his permit suspended,
Never to see Barcelona again.
Sixty six years since the fairy tale ended,
He still is a hero in that part of Spain.

13 Leave a comment on verse 13 0 In London, he passed on, both penniless and friendless,
A tired old man with no will to survive.
But in the Catalan region, his legend is endless,
As the hero who kept Barcelona alive.

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Notes

Based on a recent article in the Indo by Mick O’Keeffe

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/the-ballad-of-patrick-oconnell/