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Kennington Oval, 19th March 1892:
Aston Villa take on the boys in white and blue.
Arch rivals then and still so today,
Twenty five thousand turned up to cheer and watch them play
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The FA Cup Final, fresh turf and those new-fangled ‘nets’-
that’ll never take off, anyone want to take bets?
Villa odds-on, but Albion spoil their fun
Billy Bassett ran riot; 3-0 we finally won.
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After the match, Willie Groves, Albion’s exciting half back
(who thwarted so many of the Villains attacks)
is poached for the grand sum of one hundred pounds-
a record fee then, though I know that it sounds
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pretty paltry by standards today, but it started
a trickle and now those floodgates have parted-
Alf Common, Trevor Francis, Tevez and Rooney…
the fees and their wages have just become loony!
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And yet, in these times of austerity and depression
football seems immune to the global recession.
Sheikhs and Russian oligarchs spend without rhyme or reason
and ensure that the playing pitch remains depressingly uneven.
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Even as recent as the era of Hoddle and Shearer
salaries didn’t look like they were being paid in lira,
and, consequently, players don’t relate to the fans
and appreciate we’re paying for their retirement plans.
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Oh! for those innocent days when footballers lived in your street,
walked to the ground, waved when you’d meet.
Instead, the new Bentleys line the club car park
and the future of football looks frighteningly stark.
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Is there any way back? Can we save our Old Game?
The players are too used to the wealth and the fame.
So many season tickets to pay Wayne for a week!
And he threatens to leave – the boy’s got a real cheek!
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How many clubs need to go to the wall
before we have no minnows left at all?
80 mill for one player? Come now, behave!
It’s enough to make Willie Groves turn in his grave.