Poems tagged ‘Blyth Spartans’

february 27th, 1978. blyth spartans v wrexham, 5th round replay, fa cup.

we all cried, all of us; three generations of self-styled tough guys, each his own version of the great northern hard-man, reduced to tears by the dubious decision of a referee from stoke. me, my dad and granda, just standing there in the pouring rain, our chests a synchronised heave of unbridled emotion. the spartans were out, a dream over, beaten in the replay that should never have been, and we’d never get to know if arsenal were vulnerable. i had never seen a grown man cry and rarely have since. even when the dog had popped its clogs my dad had seemed to shout alot instead, tell us all off for the slightest thing, and snap at mam for no real reason; he had never once even looked like a man about to cry, and he’d loved that dog like an unborn daughter. my granda, on the other hand, had nearly cracked one new years day, but had blamed it on cigar smoke blowing back in his eyes and wasted no time in making his recovery. we had gone round to their’s for obligatory kisses and bowls of broth, and i had sang them auld lang syne in a sickly pre-pubescent voice and pranced about like a performing bear with the mustard hearth rug as my half-lit stage; and granda’s lip had quivered a bit and his booming voice began to break, then mam cut me short with her prompt applause, as aware as ever of other people’s pain. i, myself, had cried on occassion, but not lately in public and never in front of granda; not since i’d turned eleven at any rate. it was all quite weird in a touching kind of way, the three of us being honest at the same split second, no shame, no guilt, no fear of our secret ever getting out; and dad dried my eyes with the edge of his scarf and squeezed my head against the bulge of his shoulder: and granda blew his nose on a monographed hankie and tried very hard to say something comforting, it came out wrong though, and set us all off in one more chorus of sobs and sighs, and stoical cliches which demanded no answers. an old man at the back of the stand was crying too, and holding a banner saying ‘we was robbed’, gloriously unaware that anyone was watching.

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blyth spartans 4, boston 3; & according to my dad, the greatest football moment to occur this side of war. i tell this tale often. tonight it’s to a fat bloke who is sat at the bar: he has just ‘found’ the game like others find god; preferring plato to platini in his previous incarnation: he raves about ‘the toon’ in commentator-speak, like a blind man with no nose describing a flower, & despite his enthusiasm he gets my goat: he has never played ‘three goals in’ with a balding tennis ball well after dark, never said ‘next goal wins’ with a trace of breathless optimism creeping into his voice or given up his jumper to act as a goalpost; he has never shed tears at the sound of a whistle, or exchanged vulgarities with a bearded centre-forward; he has never timed a volley so friggin’ sweetly that it bursts through the net like an anti-tank missile; or turned to his mates when he knows he’s got the winner. & then he sets off on a cantona rant, claiming that eric is a flash in the pan, ‘a gallic thug’ he dares to say, ‘with a modicum of skill’! so with my eyebrows at least, i make my saving tackle, i make a point of making a point that discovery & understanding are completely different things.

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Source: https://footballpoets.org/news/poem-tags/blyth-spartans/