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Poems tagged ‘Football’

Football’s coming home…

In 66 we won the cup,
The football world was shaken up.
But since then, it seems, we’ve had a curse,
Our football luck’s been quite perverse.
In 1970, we gave it a try,
But in the quarter-finals waved goodbye.

In 86, Maradona’s ‘hand of god’,
Won the quarter-final for the cheating sod.
Italia 90 brought semi-final pain,
Gazza’s tears like pouring rain.
2002, the quarter-finals brought no joy,
Beaten by Brazil’s samba boys.

2006, another quarter-final curse,
Every time it feels much worse.
2018 saw a semi-final try,
But Croatia’s win saw our dreams die.
In 22, expectations high for Southgate’s men,
But the quarter-final jinx struck again.

Our Euro hopes, they’ve been much the same,
Quarters and semis, usually end the game.
In 68, we reached the last four,
In 96, lost a semi-final once more.
2004 and 12, quarter-finals brought yet more pain,
Our poor supporters left to groan again.

In the 21 final we faced Italy’s blues,
Penalties again, of course we’d lose.
It’s now fifty-eight years of hurt.
For those three lions on the shirt,
But let’s leave all our tears in the past,
Football’s coming home, at last!

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Cesar Luis Menotti- a tribute

Cesar Luis Menotti
Face like a tombstone
With inscriptions of
Pain, hurt, almost
Rejection
Carved with the first
Bold letterings of despair
Never really understood
Today we mourn his death
A man eaten up
By football’s eternal
Anxieties
Those curling tendrils
Of cigarette smoke
Swirling around him
Like a wintry fog
Melancholy Menotti
Trapped in a world
Of loneliness
And contemplation
Defined in 1978
By that sullen
Sulking snarl
But why
Since 1978
Was his year
Relishable,
Sweet as a
Chocolate eclair
Oozing with cream
Or the typical
Black Forest gateau
Of that time
Menotti, sunken cheeks
Swallowed up by the
Private tortures
Argentina
His Argentina
Did what Buenos Aires
And the sweeping pampas
Demanded of him
Hailed as Cesar
By an adoring Cordoba
And Rosario
Argentina amidst
A blizzard of confetti
And ticker tape of sheer
Elation that wrapped itself
Comfortingly around Menotti
Who rose above the wars
Militia and military
Around him
Held aloft the World Cup
Of 1978
Menotti beside himself
With a repressed joy
At first
But then persuaded
That chain smoking
Would benefit nobody
When Ossie and Ricky
Conjured images of
The Bossa Nova movements
Tantalising Tango
Stylistically perfect
And yet Cesar
Simply sat there
Vanishing in the
Nicotine Nirvana
Menotti misery guts
Nobody would ever
Know why that
Had to be the case
Smoke to his hearts content
Huge grey curtains
Never really revealing
His inner frustrations
As the World Cup of 1978
Unfolded
White fingers of smoke
Gripping Menotti, hiding
Itself in the corners
Of his mind
Fear not Cesar
Your day of World Cup
Victory, congratulations
To that Latin temperament
Which would be his fate
Oh doomed Netherlands
Would be overwhelmed
In World Cup Final
Tragedy of two successive
Defeats during the 1970s
A pity and somehow unfair
Cesar Luis Menotti
For he it was who
Waved the baton
In the dark depths
Of his deeply thoughtful
Dug out
Tormented with guilt
None knew why
Troubled with
With mysterious
Misgivings
He would never tell
Us why
But then Menotti
May well have kicked
The Benson and Hedges
Addiction into the
Long grass
Or maybe not
When his captain
Daniel Passarella
Appointed Argentina
World Champions
For 1978 read the present day
Still owners of
The Jules Rimet Cup

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Klopp’s Liverpool held by happy Hammers

So there you were on the brink
Of adolescence
Voice finally broken
Hormones in disarray
Struggling with the
Realisation that school
Had offered nothing
Of any note or substance
It was the last game
Of the season
At the Boleyn Ground
Liverpool about to
Be crowned in the
Footballing throne room
Of the old First Division
Down for the day
From loquacious Liverpool
Genetically humorous
Ever since the day
Jimmy Tarbuck met Cilla
On the seething and heaving
Kop where the song wordsmiths
Once swapped pleasantries
With the Fab Four
But then on the last game
Of the League season
In 1978
The Merseyside choir ensemble
Converged on the Smoke
Those Southerners will never
Win anything
They sniffed disdainfully
And they were right
Keegan and Toshack saw to that
While Tommy Smith, Ian Callaghan,
Phil Thompson, tall and
Impassable, Chris Lawler
Just everywhere
What a team
Gold standard bearers
Of the Liver Birds
Crest, trumpeting their
Attacking excellence
And simple, expansive
One touch football
That left the claret and blues
From East London
Gripped with paranoia
Why did it have to be them?
It had to be Liverpool
They must have muttered
Then the final whistle went
And the Hammers were relegated
For the first time in 20 years
Desperately, pitifully and soberingly
By now John Lyall’s Stratford army
Had mobilised his troops
Settling his feet at the
The table of the Upton Park
Academy, always listening,
Learning and studying
The West Ham way
Crisp, laconic, free flowing
Football towards my South Bank
Residence, pleasure
To watch the embryo
That always promised
Then delivered
My old school friends though
Have also moved on
We’ve touched base since
In one of those splendid reunions
But yesterday they were elsewhere
Probably chewing the cud
About football never losing its romance
Yesterday the Hammers eke out a 2-2 draw
Against Liverpool
Europe probably gone now
But how we’ve soaked up the delights
Of Prague last June
The fruits of
Always epic labours
Back then to late Saturday games
And Sunday lunchtimes if the FA
Insist, they surely will
Next season
Perhaps a blessing in relief
Since Thursday and Sunday
Football always seemed unusual
As incongruous as a roast
On a Saturday evening
No complaints about the season
Though, Top 10
In the Premier League
Modesty prevailed
No trophies this time
Just the knowledge
That we were there

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Joe Kinnear- a tribute

Joe Kinnear always in the know
Farewell to the show
To the football pitch
Never kitsch
Joe Kinnear
Where the White Hart Lane
Purists were in mutual appreciation
Of his valuable sense of
Morality which always seemed to
Be the agenda of the day
Joe was always there
Impassable and impenetrable
Safe as the houses
Along the Seven Sisters Road
As reliable as the kettle
That so frequently boiled
Every morning
Where men in training bibs
And tracksuits heavy with
Testosterone and hard graft
The sweat of today, tomorrow
Future generations
Yet to be witnessed
Were permanently infatuated
With that medicine ball
From yesteryear
That almost broke
Your school boots
Like kicking dynamite
But Joe of course
Basked brightly in
The ebb and flow, a paragon of virtue
To those who cared with
Compassion when the chips
Were down for Spurs
A rounded character
Decent geezer in
A dressing room of
Gin and tonic
That restorative boost
To demoralised spirits
Joe brought certainty
Wherever he went
Always there in the
Background noise
Assurance personified
Never flustered
Just business like
Hard but flair and fair
When John Pratt
Mopped up the wreckage
And then
Steve Perryman
Was still refining his craft
Joe brought a glow
To the tools of his trade
Self made, his own person
And then the playtime
Of his well rewarded career
Faded into the woodwork of
Those noisy tunnels
From whence Joe emerged
With the distinction of
A Saturday lord of his manor
His manor, his chivalrous domain
Guarding his front door
With lock and key
Never moved from his spot
Spurs through and through
Manager of Wimbledon
But never common
A don amongst dons
Suitably qualified for
That much maligned job
Since nobody ever seemed
To have time for
For those who once
Stood at Plough Lane
But Joe Kinnear
Football will of course
Will miss you
Unquestioningly so
Rest in peace Joe Kinnear

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An old friend

Yes folks there’s
An old friend
On our doorstep again
The hardy perennial flower
That normally makes itself
Welcome on the verge
Of the springtime blooms
But not quite yet
Still, it’s the Carabao Cup
Final this weekend
The old League Cup Final
Not the glamorous
Mardi Gras of the May
Merriment and mirth
Of the FA Cup Final
But still just and honourable
A fitting precursor
To the ultimate showdown
At season’s end
Dancing in the silhouettes
Of football’s moody moments
Where the Premier League
Lays down its final
Statement and underlines
Its vehement signature
The old League Cup Final
That Alan Hardaker
Brainchild, 64 years ago
That long ago, hey
Ready and waiting to take
Out its pension
Next year
But no thoughts of retirement
Just yet
First it was Rochdale, Norwich
And Aston Villa
In the days before Wembley
Came calling
When there were two legs
And football was played
In black and white
Then in 1967
Queens Park Rangers
The Loftus Road legends
Milking the applause
Of that iconic year
Amid their neighbours
Chelsea who would embrace
The mud, muck and bullets
Of the Horse of the Year
Show of 1970
When the FA Cup Final
Went to a replay against
The Don Revie Leeds
And Wembley looked as
If it were about to
Produce its first radishes
And rhubarbs on that muddy
Allotment site known as Wembley
A muddied disgrace
But that was the charm of
The game back then
But the League Cup still
Holds the fascination of
The masses
If only because
It yields the tangible
Silverware of a trophy
On the day
There was Spurs
In early 1970s skirmishes
Manchester City in 1974
When the acrobatic genius
Of Dennis Tueart discovered
A gymnastic bicycle overhead kick
To bring back
The League Cup to Maine Road
Many decades before the Etihad
Exhibition years
And Premier Leagues
Festivities to talents
From far and wide
Across the globe
Then there was Cloughie
Leading out Forest from
The rich canopies of trees
Narrowly clinching victory
League Cup glory against
The Saints who almost went
Marching on
Southampton perhaps
On a different page
Of that historic day
And year when Mrs T
Took charge and stayed
There almost indefinitely
Of course Liverpool and Manchester
United muscled in on the
Same territory
The big boys and household
Names that still echo down
The years
But then the brief
Excursion into
The land of fantasy
Swansea kept the home
Fires of Wales burning
5-0 winners of the now
Heavily sponsored League Cup
Against Bradford City
One of Yorkshire’s finest
Amongst many
Once in a blue moon
But a pleasant surprise
Nonetheless
And finally Manchester City
Unstoppably, unassailable
Thousands of country miles
Ahead of the rest
Current holders of
Everything in sight
Including the Carabao Cup
If only Rochdale and Norwich
Knew at the birthplace
Of the old League Cup
Teething problems at first
But now full maturity
Chelsea and Liverpool
It had to be them
The Carabao Cup
Acknowledged by most
If not all.

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Back from Far East ports

Oh for the inscrutable charms of
The Far East
So here’s the latest
From tales of the Orient
But not certainly not of
The Brisbane Road variety
No sight nor sound of Barry Hearn
In Bangkok since my beloved wife
And I found sanctuary in those
Picture postcard pagodas
Where advertising hoardings
The size of the country itself
Dominate in vast acres
Of visibility that seemed to
Stretch for mile upon mile
Flashing fiercely across
Hot and noisy roads
Homages to I phones,
Electrical gadgets
And yes even Mcdonald’s
Subways and Burger King
Bangkok in perfect
Juxtaposition with Britain
Some things never change
We spotted Gunners shirts
In the Far East
Then Good Morning Vietnam
Where deafening gunfire
And dark, dank and filthy
Tunnels
Remind you of horrendous
Bloodshed during the 1960s
Battle scarred exchanges
Slashed across the nation’s flag
And young girls wept helplessly
Burning profusely in napalm
An appalling waste of life
Running for life desperately seeking
Life and sustenance
But then you remembered the red
Of Arsenal in Malaysia
And recalled
The enormous fanbases
Where Manchester United
Hold monopolies and markets
Merchandise and T-shirts the
Hundreds of thousands
Who eagerly listen for
The Beeb’s World Service
Or for instant gratification
The immediate result on their
I- Phone, a Tablet or two
In case it’s a devastating result
From Old Trafford
Oh for Oriental mysticism
The magical mystique
Where football turns its
Global village and
Sampans and kampongs
Into havens of health
And fitness
Joining forces with
The rest of the footballing
Community
Not forgetting Thailand
With little or no
Footballing ancestry
Or liquid legacies
But still an Emirates
Following in tiny corners
Of Phuket
Football heard
In every waterside
Jetty
Where the children
Kiss the crest of
The Red Devils
And the Gooners
Rule the roost
Never underestimate
The football banner
Its influence world wide

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Football goes into hiding

So what’s next on the itinerary
For the Premier League
Yes of course
A welcome break
Besides Saudi deserts
Or Manchester City’s
Oil fields of
Superabundant cash
Millions of lifestyles
Bathed in the luxuriant
Glow of billionaire
Budgets
Sports washing in the
Dirty laundries of
Fiddling the books
But surely football
Is vastly above
The acrid stench of corruption
Those filthy sewers of
Villainy and venality
Football is now resting
Its weary limbs
After those taxing
Assignments of hard
Earned victories
And devastating defeats
Particularly when you
Hit rock bottom
Of the Premier League
Where everything is cold
And forbidding
Nobody wants to know you
But this weekend
All is quietness and
Singularly without incident
Silence falls across the affluent
Country mansions
Of the Emirates, the stately
Piles of the Etihad,
The towering giants
Of Old Trafford
So far, so appallingly
Misshapen, spineless
At times
United haunted
By the indefinable
While Spurs are
Cooking away
Quite happily
Among the leaders
And potentially good
Enough to win
But flatter to deceive
Which could lead to
Their ultimate downfall
Meanwhile in the British
Cafes, bars and clubs
Of Spanish winter sunshine
Guardiola, Arteta, Klopp,
Postecoglou refreshing
Appetites for battles
That lie ahead
Flapping their pool towels
On sun kissed loungers
85 degrees in the shade
If only you could be there
But we’re half way through
The season and none of you
Looked shattered and exhausted
Dark glasses tilted over
Sun factor 45 eyes
Bring the boys
Much needed pina coladas
And cocktails for Klopp,
Diaz, Curtis Jones, Trent
Alexander Arnold
Are all in desperate
Need of champagne by
The bucket load
Ed Sheeran, Adele,
Elbow, Coldplay
In their discerning ears
A thousand I Phones
At their disposal
Spoilt but certainly not
Since they are the ones
Who bring home the trophies
And silverware to the
Lads with their football mags
Tattoos on torsos
Ink but in the pink
Frequently visiting social
Media throughout the day
While spending merriment
Mirth and malarkey
Laughter roaring
Out of the hotel
Windows on their world
Sun beds raucous with
Boisterous banter
The playground balconies
Of Benidorm
Pranksters and jokers
One and all, from the
Algarve, Florida,
Bahamas and Barbados
Like well rewarded princes
Or sultans on bejewelled
Beaches, pottering
Around with that air
Of privilege and entitlement
We can hardly imagine
Jurgen and Mikel,
Blissfully soaking up the rays
Oblivious to gallows humour
Back at home
Cocktails tinkling resonantly
Around the ice cubes
Of innumerable Bacardis
Then it’s off to the hotel
Banqueting suite
Where therapeutic salads,
Spanish siestas at the height
Of the day
Relax football
Easy living and
Jurgen helps himself to
Moreish and addictive plates
Of paella and mouth watering
Glasses of sangria or Spanish rose
While the sun plays Hop Scotch
Across bronzed bodies
Warm weather training
Now that simply doesn’t make any sense
Since this is not hard work
And besides how hard can it be
To pick up cans of Coca Cola?
Red Bulls by a lorry load
Consignment of
Healthy, invigorating
Energy drinks
Anybody for Carabao?
This week the Carabao
Cup cuts through the
White noise of drink,
Drinking again but this
Time in moderation
Or days of wine and roses
Wines of a thousand varieties
Meanwhile Arsenal, Liverpool,
Manchester City and Spurs
Lead the way in the second week
Of January
Surely in need of recharging
Batteries of rehabilitation
Does anybody fancy
The frivolities of diving
And splashing around
The twinkling blue of
Swimming pools now surrounded
By pampered egos
Oh that’s an outrageous
Slur on their character
But now it’s time to catch
Up with the Kindle generation
21st century paper backs
No longer under the pressure
Just increased leisure
Without measure
The latest thriller by Lee Child,
James Patterson or up and coming
Literature at its finest
Most enthralling, unputdownable
With incessant folding of every page
In case they forget the narrative
Of today’s reality celebrity convention
Waiter we’ll have the most chilled of
Chiantis,
But strictly non alcoholic
By mid day
The Premier League stops for just
A while, a week or two
Recovery from heated debates
Of offsides by the nose, toe,
Just a tantalising glimpse
Of an unfortunate elbow
That bore no resemblance of a penalty
VAR. You have to be joking
This weekend football
Takes a breather
Midway through the chapters
Of football’s never ending
Ebbs and flows
Pages packed with intrigue
Gripping plot lines
Yet to be resolved
Destined for Netflix
Mini series
Or the documentary of
Their lives
Oh life is just one
Holiday and jolly,
Roistering party
For the Premier League
Exemplary role models
They can never put a foot wrong
Let them put their feet up
It’s fully deserved
And above reproach
Never criticise them
They are your icons
And heroic entertainers
But soon it’ll return
Fitter and stronger
Than ever
The Premier League
Unscathed, the business
End of season
It will be good for you
Rest assured

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Eric Cantona- singer supreme

Where once trawlers followed seagulls
And poetry met philosophy
Eric Cantona
Quite suddenly
Avant garde bohemian
French chanteur
Overnight pop singer
It is beyond credibility
But this man is the epitome
Of street cred
Once enfant terrible
Now de rigeur
From non conformist
Rebel with a cause
United’s legendary face
Maverick with
Dashing arrogance
Goal scorer
Of exquisite beauty
Now plunged into
The recording studio
A pop singer you cry
No this is just
Some passing phase
But the truth is
Out there
A man with the indefinable
Je ne sais quoi
The belle epoque
Of any age
Now masquerading
As modern
Day Aznavour
A thickly hirsute
And beautifully bearded
Sacha Distel
Distinguished dulcet
Tones
Top of the charts
Taking us
All by complete
Surprise
But the gain
Of the mainstream
Pop music scene
Sacre bleu
Monsieur Cantona
Is there nothing
Beyond you?
Certainly not
A baguette for
The music man
And just a
Croissant or two

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Top of the Premier League albeit briefly

Oh for the heady aroma of
Being top of the Premier League
The best team in the Football League
West Ham United
But albeit so sadly briefly
It was always the story
Once top of the old First Division
During the 1970s
How golden was that 12 hour sojourn
We had a riotous party
To celebrate its brevity
As opposed to its longevity
City back in charge
Pep in command of fate
Oh the familiarity of it all
But the claret and blue
Troops will soldier on
Heroically
You could never fault them
For that
Continue David Moyes

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Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland
The ultimate accolade
Recognised by his admiring
Peers, colleagues united
In mutual appreciation
PFA men’s players player
Of the year
Tungsten steel and thunder
In his centre forward’s boots
Manchester City’s inimitable one
A goal machine
Firing and sparking
On jet propelled heels
With electrifying speed
Goals like a million raindrops
Pouring down from tearful Manchester
Skies far from the limit
You can imagine Big Mal
Malcolm Allison puffing
Havana cigars, celebrating
The Norwegian Viking ransacking
The lands and penalty areas
Of old First Division havens
Joe Mercer and John Bond
Heartily giggling in remote
Hard bitten dug outs
What a find, a gem,
Haaland, a Norwegian nugget
A diamond for years to come
Never to lose his lustre
City fans besotted by their
Latest pin up boy
He’d have been idolised
At Anfield, Old Trafford,
Highbury and White Hart Lane
Haaland would have gorged on
Second and third helpings of
Goals, cracked and thumped home
Clinically, shamelessly
In the eternal mud of the 1970s
At least 40 or 50 from head and feet
Handsomely and exquisitely
Bouncing off Chopper Harris,
Dave Mackay, Norman Hunter’s shins
With effortless effrontery
How dare he?
Hurdling bloodthirsty tackles,
Shrugging off the red blooded
Savagery of the hard men
The men who stood for no nonsense
Murder in their eyes
But never in their heart
Then the flaxen blond Haaland
Scored again and again
A striker of peerless power
Prominent always on the score sheet
The centre forward defenders
Loathe and dread for 90 minutes
And then injury time that now
Seems to last for eternity
Until late night dinners beckon
Erling Haaland now striving to
Match his gold embossed predecessor
Aguero, a goal scorer from his cot
Goals by the gallons
Upon the final blast of the referee’s whistle
When City won their first Premier League
In modern times
And Manuel of Chile
Worked his mastery
From the first kiln of clay
Now though Erling Haaland
Accepts the bouquets of praise
With petals of approbation
Fluttering in the Etihad breeze
Haaland a phenomenon
From Pep’s encyclopaedic mind
Not so much a discovery
More of a birthday present
Celebrated like the Messiah
Goals for breakfast, lunch and tea
Players player of the year
The PFA acknowledges your charm
Offensive
Here and now
Your colleagues revere
Who you are, targets
Achieved and broken
Records
There is so much more to come
Perpetual petrol in his tank
Beware the City bolt of lightning
Striking 52 so far
We can only assume a century
Is in his insatiable hunger
Haaland, this boundless appetite
Glutton but not for punishment
A glorious gourmand
Who always eats his greens
Erling goals in his blood
Pumping and pulsing again

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