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I used to be brown leather, panels hand-sewn together
In a classic pattern, laced up tight – my bladder inside.
Hard and heavy in the winter weather on dirty mudpatch
Pitches, when those brave or stupid enough to head me
Felt like they’d made contact with a sodden bomb; neck
Muscles twisting, burning; problems in later life – all for
The sake of a moment’s glory – Caseball, they called me.
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Times passed by, lace-ups replaced by plastic; Slazenger,
Mitre, trendy names took over. They even changed my hue;
White and orange – my colour on that June day in 1966, when
I may – or may not – have crossed the line; but Hurst made
Sure when he hit me home triumphantly. I went missing, to
Germany, but found my way back – eventually. I was much
Lighter, sexier now; They could all do fancy tricks with me.
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Charlton, Lorimer – I stayed hit when they connected; then
They covered me in black hexagons, and I graced grounds
Across the world – from NASL to Euro Cups, to Latin American
Dictatorships…the power of the humble football. But still, in
Good old Blighty I was never truly trusted – till Murdoch came
Calling, and I was re-born. A fluorescent, day-glow beach ball
Lightness – swerving, dipping, keeping goalies on their guard.
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So take me for granted at your peril; I may just hit a dodgy
Divot and deflect off an outstretched boot to win the match,
In the dying moments of stoppage time. Be kind; caress me,
Pass me gently, and I’ll obey, go where you want – even to
A team-mate sometimes. If you’re lucky, and score with me
Three times in ninety minutes – or less – I’m yours, for keeps.
Such is the life of a ball; without me, you’d have nothing at all.