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Straining my eyes; who is that team?
They were so far gone from the first leg
as to be forgotten in the present: out of place –
a relic from last season; is that the ghost of Barry Bannan?
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Switch to Amsterdam to see the boys from Forest Gate
and Canning Town hold firm and punch down
into tragi-comic, uniform Dutch disguises.
But the manager made a micro-climate
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back in Sheffield, papered the walls with insults
not as motivation but as a thin membrane
with an outward facing trace of false propaganda:
‘Yes we are defeated, and the tie is over.’
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At the final whistle, that stillness,
that ‘keeping of the head while all about you…’
that fixed, impregnable gaze against imposters…
was it relief, exhaustion, a subtle two fingers?
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Back to the training ground. When they’ve got us pressed;
here’s a classic – the raking long diagonal
with subtle outswing fade. So they close up the pitch:
we turn on sixpences. Barry puts you into debt
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in a coin of his own minting, then he switches
from tiki taka to go direct, and the huddle
lifts the heaviness so, with respect to Barnsley,
for the final: we’re all Wednesday aren’t we?