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Cold autumn afternoons on the Hillary Street terraces,
Cosy in their own particular way – no push and shove
Amongst the four thousand, or so. Just there for the
Football, and the Oxo at half time. This modest, compact
Staffordshire ground, tucked away behind the railway
Lines that take you away to Villa, Wolves and Albion.
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Red and white, in variation, around the rusty old stands
That fringe Fellows’ field of reality. No fuss as such,
Nothing too loud – just a murmured anticipation as the
Lads emerge to half-hearted applause; be they veterans,
Journeymen, the Star Man, or the eccentric goalkeeper…
And once in a while, ATV would come calling – a rare treat.
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Little-known opponents from the many compass points;
As ignorant of this small town as we are of them, with
Their funny accents. But still welcomed, all the same.
Distant chimneys and spires, flickering high rise lights
Look down on the homely scene. Shouts are heard more
Clearly here, be it hard-earned praise or caustic criticism.
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A goal from the arch poacher splits the dull deadlock,
But cheers turn to jeers when the equaliser comes. Still,
It’s nothing too serious – always mid-table, always in
Division Three, year on year. A poignant pleasure to
Visit, now and then. No worry, no hassle, no aching
Commitment; and always that great little programme shop.
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So it’s off down the steps, away home through narrow
Streets, wet with rainfall. Boarding the bus, conductor
At the ready, steamed windows and rough, warm chatter
About the match, and the other results. Remembered now
With an enduring, nostalgic fondness – a time long gone in
The football league backwaters; go to it, super Saddlers!