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The Battle of ‘47: Part One

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 A Saturday in cold December.
Eastington will play at home
Their old rivals, nearby Frampton
For Stroud’s premier league and crown.
Committee man and staunch supporter,
Self appointed groundsman he,
Starting work in early morning,
Grooms the pitch so carefully
First shoo the cows and clear the cowpats
From the sloping field of play,
For a shilling, tell a junior
“Keep the cattle out the way.”
With sawdust, thanks to Ryeford sawmill,
In a somewhat shaky hand
Marks the line and centre circle,
Hangs the the nets, checks every strand.
Strong string is used to pull together
Gaping holes where, so we’re told,
Scorching shots from centre forwards
Burst right through in games of old.
Disguise the quagmire in the goalmouth,
Long ago grass turned to mud,
Mark with stakes the lines and corners,
Battlefield awaits first blood.
Meanwhile in factory and farmyard,
Soaked in sweat and labours’ grime,
Each team member grows impatient,
Fretting out his over time.
And then, at last, released from labour,
Greyhounds eager for the tray,
They rush home for hurried dinner
And the business for the day.
Then, pulling on Eastington’s colours,
Quartered shirts of red and blue,
And heavy leather boots, all dubbined.
Long shorts, socks of different hue.
Thick magazines make makeshift shinpads,
Socks tied up with lace or string,
Pockets that can hold ten ciggies,
Roll up makings in a tin.
Last of all,don a tattered raincoat,
Slender,shield against the chill
As they walk, or maybe bike it
To the ground down by the mill.
Some anxious looks as each is counted
On the pitch as they arrive.
Will they start short of eleven?
Kick off soon ,Hope’s still alive.
Blue smoke and rattles from a lorry
And the Framptons lads are here.
Climbing from the ancient Bedford,
Cold stiff limbs,though warmed by beer.
Smiles and nods from their opponents.
Handshakes,and the odd jokes flow,
Gap toothed grins mark past encounters
With this well respected foe.
A kick about as curtain raiser.
See the small fry joining in
To show off their hidden talent.
All for football, kith and kin.
The ref turns up and sudden panic,
Our right half still isn’t here.
Quick, send a junior to find him,
Starting short is a real fear.
But just in time he wheels his bike in
And tension soon evaporates.
A quick word of explanation,
“I got a puncture, sorry mates.”

10

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/the-battle-of-47-part-one/