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Two by two, or single file around the track – pacing,
Pacing. Eye on the crowds, maybe one on the match
As well. With ten minutes left they started their route.
And you knew by their presence time was very short;
Great if you were winning, not so if you were losing.
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Their long overcoats, the young constable, the crusty
Sergeant, the shrewd inspector – pacing and watching.
An occasional dive into the multitude as a flurry broke
Out at the back. Strong arm tactics to unravel the mess,
And off down the tunnel they went – scruffs in hand.
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Yet all in all a passive scene – there to help, not hinder
The masses each week. Saturday overtime a welcome
Bonus, even in stinging rain or sweltering sun. But times
Were a-changing; the terraces segregated, fenced in,
Kept apart. Malice into hatred; Aggression into violence.
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A state of war almost, stadia places of conflict and strife.
Fans to be corralled, monitored; young, old, good and bad.
A policeman’s lot not a happy one – riot gear, not helmet
and tunic. Control and containment paramount – until that
Spring day in Sheffield brought it crashing down, tragically.
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Now we behave ourselves, more or less. Nasties confined
To abusing the players, the manager, the referee – and it’s.
Stewards, not Bobbies – cheaper of course. Still, they wait
Outside, just in case. The thin blue line endures; sign of the
Times, a thankless job. Part of the Game, the ritual, the law.