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The old days at Upton Park.

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 In the old days when we paid
Homage to the claret and blue
Amid the stamp and clip-clop
Of the noble horses
Where the savoury perfume
Of hot dogs
And hamburgers
Fell around our sensitive
Taste buds,
Lingering for a while
Where the cacophony
Of ear-splitting shouting,
Yelling, blistering noises
Cut through the tone of
The day
An uplifting concerto
Or maybe an overture
To West Ham at their
Most classical, the finished
Article,
Glowing in technicolour
Upton Park when
A kindred spirit
Joined us together
For song and music
Where once our grandparents
Taught us so well, then
You gravitate
Towards the creaking
Turnstiles, stubborn
And moody at times
But then you settled into
The plush accommodation
Of the South Bank terraces,
Where the full-time residents
Who paid their mortgage
To their season ticket duration
For years and decades
There can be no turning back
Now.
So you plant your arms
On the pristine claret
And blue. The upholstery
We’d always known
And suddenly the resounding
Blast of brass, raucous,
Joyful trumpets and trombones
Blaring fruitfully along the Barking
Road, rather like our souls
We can hear them so clearly
From afar
Come on you Irons
In the distance the tunnel
From which our heroes
Shortly emerge for confrontations
Against opponents of steel.
The band plays on towards
A hearty conclusion an hour
Before the first whistle of the
Referee.
Then we glance thoughtfully
Around the tempest
And the overwhelming
Tumult of events
Of our times
Rumbling like the trains
And buses
That transported our
Fondest wishes
On the match day
Of Saturday
We assumed it
Will always be
That way
Engraved on our
Minds
Around the Upton
Park pitch, bags
Of monkey nuts
In sacks of snacks
For prodigious
Appetites
Meanwhile men
Displaying their
Finest badges
And scarves,
Announce
Their declaration
Of intent, slapping
Each other’s back
With immediate
Gallows humour
Floods of
Joviality
Pouring from
Mouths of blue
But fear not
These are our friends
Our Saturday spiritual
Mates, gatherings
Of similar claret and blue
Sentiments, fretful and
Worried, staring at pools of
Onions and ketchup
Haute cuisine
A gastronomic feast
Our days of wheat and
Yeast to keep our
Hopes at bay
Appetites satisfied
But prepared for now
So on cold wintry
November evenings,
Sagas
And fables left
Us broken and bereft
Stamping our feet
For warmth
Then there was
The fortnightly ritual
Of seething tribalism
Pushing, shoving, jostling
Huddling together
For security and intimacy
The South Bank surged
Forward like banks
Of birds swarming
For all their worth
A huge throng of
Vocal solidarity
Then voices perfectly
Oiled obscenities
Spurs or Chelsea
Were the subject
Of salty insults
Hate-filled vituperation
West Ham
Hated Spurs and
Chelsea and still do
But Upton Park
Was their Speakers
Corner, a place
To express
Contemptuous
And hostile
Chants from
The distance of
Years, shivering
And trembling down
The ages
But still you
Can hear the mid
Week-night matches
Of year
When the Chicken
Run would greet
The away side
Like sworn enemies
In the heat of battle
Heads down
Away we go
And finally the floodlights
In North Bank unison
And stylish synchronicity
Would yell from the rooftops
We shall not be moved.

9

Notes

This is my reflection on Upton Park, home of the Hammers.

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/the-old-days-at-upton-park/