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Our school yard, pre assembly, would be mayhem
With young fella’s trying to get the ball off this one kid.
It was as if it was connected to his foot
Via some strange magnetic force, and wouldn’t break.
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He danced around the school yard like Nureyev
Confidently doing tricks with the ball
That teaching staff and older fella’s
In the higher years could not quite believe.
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I’d come up against this kid in a youth team match
He was playing for a top notch South London club
Who were winning leagues and cups in a canter,
Had this bright lurid kit, and were immaculately turned out, as he was.
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Skill. He’d a locker full of it, balance, strength
A quick brain, knew all the calls
Telling team mates where to stand
At free kicks and corners, etc, etc.
Stood head and shoulders above everybody else.
If anyone was going to make it as a pro, it was him.
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When the school team sheet
Was put up on the notice board for Saturday mornings match
His name would be on it, as were three or four reserves.
He never turned up, not once. So a reserve would play.
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After making feeble excuses on Monday, and getting detention
For not turning up. We knew, what he was up to
He was playing for that trophy winning youth club near his home
Why would he bother to travel over to Barnes and play for us?.
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He went to see the sports master, absolutely livid
“Sir, how come I’m not in the team for this Saturday’s cup match?”.
“I’ve picked you for most of the games this season,
Then every Monday you have some feeble excuse for not turning up to play”.
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“But I’m the best player in the year and probably the school, sir”.
“I’m sure you are, but this game
Is about the team and it’s the team
Who’ve managed to get us this far in the competition, so you’re not playing”.
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As one of the reserves who turned up,
Hoping for a game every week
And not always getting one mind. And a big admirer of this kids Awesome football prowess.
I had to admire the masters stance.
Although I didn’t quite get it a the time.
What a fabulous player this young fella could, would and should have gone on to be.
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We lost the match, there was no shame in that
We’d done ourselves proud
With a pretty average team. But, that’s what it was…. a team.
A lesson was learned by a kid
Who thought he was bigger than the team
And could just turn up and play for us when up when he wanted to.
As for the rest of us?
We learned a whole lot more about loyalty and the team ethic.