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The Wind off the Thames

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 Winter Saturday afternoon 1960s London
the tube to Hammersmith station
electric magnetic acrid ozone
escalate from underground below the flyover
two miles walking redbrick backstreets
two shillings entry to

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 struggling Fulham football club
the riverside stand terraced with men
in solitary union, a fug of damp overcoats
sweat, cigarette smoke, Brylcreemed heads
sweet scalding tea, steak and kidney pies
fortify against the wind cutting off the water

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 another loss to a better team, in my despond
spill from a desolate stadium to trudge
the lonely drag back home
envy others starting out early evening
more human, rewarding, alliances, affinities
than devotion to a football team

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 40 years later on the far side of the world
unable to sleep I rise to watch
an internet stream a pixellated view
an all seater covered stadium
smoking forbidden, pomaded hair passé
but the same disappointment

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 I return to a bed as cold
as the chill wind off the Thames

I was born in Hammersmith and lived in Shepherds Bush, Sudbury Hill and Greenford through the 50s and 60s. Many of my teenage Saturday afternoons were spent watching Fulham as they descended from Division 1 to Division 3. Now I live in Australia, and am still, in my way, a dedicated supporter. But instead of going by tube, I now watch online in the middle of the Australian night.

Editor Note.Great memories Mike…more please!..I still miss the flags of all the teams…which they got rid of when the went down one year!

Although a life long Chelsea fan (sorry!) since my first match Xmas Day 1957…for myself and many of my school mates it was Chelsea one week.. Fulham the next…

I grew up playing football in the street just off the Ifield Road so we’d always walk to both grounds back when it 9d for kids and 1/6 for adults and back then when we thought it would last forever!

On the way to the Cottage, we’d always stop off at the Eel & Pie shop just off the bottom end of North End Road for pie and mash. It stood just opposite a brilliant old toy shop called Patrick’s where you dropped a penny in to make the train go round. I used to buy my knights there..

So one week it was Haynesie,Tosh Chamberlain, Fumbling ol’ Macedo, Langley, spritely Graham Leggart,Robson and more….terrorising or being pummelled by Liverpool in Div 2 .. the next Greavesie, Brabrook, the bumbling Sillett brothers, Blunstone et al scoring 5 and letting in 6 up the other end. We were both the great under-achievers.. Tommy Trinder’s playthings and the Express’s Desmond’s Hackett’s perennial ducklings and pensioners.. in those classic Roy Ullyet cartoons of the day…

Great games though .The epic Fulham v Man U semi final and replay …..and once I cut my finger really badly opening a can of tomato soup before a game (with one of those crap dig-in pointy openers)…it was an icy January day …and i stood in freezing cold on that windy terrace watching Fulham beat Peterborough 5-1 in the cup…
I had an eerie and magical experience there once recently too when i worked there a few years ago and we ended up on Match of The Day 2 with students and two first team players writing football poetry on tackling racism. .I arrived early in the morning to find the classic gates draped in flowers, photos and tributes.The late great Johnny Haynes had passed away the night before..Later that afternoon when everyone had gone and quietness had descended there was literally just myself and one security guard alone the ground..i was allowed to walk right round the totally empty stadium..which you can still do….al around both ends and along the now lamp-lit riverside behid the stand..What is incredible Mike, is that the old ancient original worn-down wooden seats in the main stand since 18-something are still there, as are the old green deco press lamps..Everything in that stand is listed. Ancient painted wooden staircases….all listed..Archibald Leitch had it built to the same size and scale as the old Chelsea main stand…

The Cottage itself of course is still there, as as is the 600 year old tree in the corner.,..so it’s still a unique ground..the red brick facade..still there..(why on earth did they allow them to get rid of the amazing frontage at Villa?) Keep on Mike..lovely images evoked best wishes from Stroud….Crispin…

Source: http://footballpoets.org/poems/the-wind-off-the-thames/