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With the excesses of Christmas and New Years’ Eve
still greasy in our stomachs
we process, pilgrims ever, to the hallowed ground.
Taking our seats near the Forest fans,
crammed like teeth in the Smethwick,
we hear the first distant rumbles:
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It is almost dark already and fat flakes flurry
while the tag of ‘favourites’ is weighing
predictably heavily on our shoulders.
We can smell the wet squelch of mud and turf,
hear the urgent cries as our defenders
chug steam and struggle to corral
the frisky Forest forwards.
Slowly, the refrain start to build:
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Coats are fully zipped, goalie’s gloves
delve deeper into deep pockets,
while mouth and nose are hidden like an outlaw’s.
Two pairs of socks, yet our feet still seem to vanish
at the ankle.
Three-nil down after half an hour
and the chant is now deafening:
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The wind has defeat on her lips
and we don’t beg to differ.
Even a consolation reply raises barely a cheer.
Behind the goal, four teenagers,
oblivious to the arctic blast
and naked from the jeans up,
snow-bathe with their hands triumphantly aloft.
The chant, as the result, predictable
as murders in MidSomer: