Poems tagged ‘Fulham’

United at the Cottage

By some Herculean twist of extended family fate
I get to see United play their southern heirs
Fulham at the Cottage
At the turn of the Millenium and in the wake of
Those late great touches from Sheringham! And Solskjaer!!

At the Riverside Stand queue there’s noticeably less testosterone in the air
Replaced by Envy, Chanel N.5 and Givenchy
Fewer expletives as little Miles and Theo stare blankly at their tickets
Mother returns to the safety of the people carrier
‘See you guys later’

The game begins and Fulham hit the bar
Then force the clown Barthez into a finger-tip save before United run up the other end
And Giggs sticks it in
Disgruntled home fans settle themselves into some mediocre north-south abuse
Disappointing given they’re mostly script writers from up White City way

Several men speculate loudly about Giggs’ sexuality
Which seems rich coming from those who spend alternate Saturdays
In the company of fellow Cottagers
Before a flowing move involving only two reds doubles the lead
The home side hit back immediately and trail by one at the break

The half time entertainment is priceless with compere ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton
Overseeing a penalty shoot out competition wherein
Stuart from Manchester ends up sharing a year’s worth of free pizza
With local lad David
Whose curious hands in pockets approach pays dividends

The second half brings one more goal apiece
And honours appear even
The home side losing little in defeat
And as I watch Becks and Co troop off
I calculate how much they have earned for that ninety minutes of toil

We head home through the well-healed Victorian terraces
That blockade the old ground against the river
Past shiny BMWs and reflections of fathers sat at parlour desks
A lone fan shouts ‘There’s only one team in Fulham’
He’s right.

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One Club Man ~ George Cohen RIP

one club man our George

gentlemanly on and off

his old Cottage pitch ~

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Oh Georgie

Oh no. Not another one
And then there were two
George Cohen
Slips peacefully and modestly
From our radar
Into the football heaven
Where the rest of the 66
World Cup brotherhood
Have now been laid to rest
Into the comforting sanctuary
Where dreams were once born
56 years ago when heartache
And cynicism were but distant
Bedfellows of today’s generation
George Cohen
Reliability personified
As dependable as the postman
Never the pretentious creature
Of the night who posed and postured
For the cameras
Always solid as a rock
Punctual for a wedding
But since when did time mean
Anything to Georgie
Since George Cohen had
The timing of his living room clock
On the hour by the hour
The embodiment of tidiness and efficiency
Never ever drunk in possession of a car
A gentleman to his fingertips
Scratching his name indelibly
In the now yellowing history books
Where once Sir Geoff, Nobby, Charltons
Bobby and Jack, Mooro
Emperor supreme
Transformed a late July afternoon
In 1966, into a golden palace
Of beautifully fulfilled aspirations
Oh what a day that must have been
But George Cohen who rested his hat
In the quaint cottage
Of Fulham was
Quietly spoken
Never disturbed the library
Of knowledge in his
Footballing head
The ultimate personification
The smartness of the tuxedo
With a nod of elegance
Personable and likeable
As the country doctor
Who always cares for his patients
On his daily rounds
Not for George the church confessional
Where Nobby sought soothing solace
He privately knew England
Would win the World Cup
No rosary beads needed here
Nor did George join his doting
Colleagues on window shopping trips
To Golders Green, London’s
Suburban finest
Instead he remained within
The protective confines
Of Hendon Hall Hotel
Perusing print and literature
Red top tabloids
Gossip, certainly not today
That sung his praises
George was loyalty incarnate
To both Fulham and England
An immovable object
At the back, unflustered
By Vietnam and the latest
Outlandish costumes
In Carnaby Street
Corrie with Elsie Tanner,
Len Fairclough, Annie and
Jack at the Rovers Return
George simply settled for
The stability of being in
The here and now
The Sixties acoustics
and riotous kaleidoscopes
Of our daily lives
Egg and chips
But never narcotics
George Cohen
Shunned the dazzling lights
Of Piccadilly,
Never flashing neons
Just a pint of your best
For George
Just a quiet libation
With family he cherished
No alcohol, no excess
Simply a 66 World Cup unsung hero
Genuine, no airs or graces
Authenticity for us all
Frills and fancies
You’re not in his team
Surplus and unnecessary
Rest in Peace
George Cohen
You were one of the best

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Thoughts While Standing Beside The Statue of Johnny Haynes at Craven Cottage

You stand on a plinth outside the ground,
With Fulham fans’ adulation crowned.
Moulded in metal, twelve feet tall,
Hands on hips, and foot on the ball.

Impatiently waiting for the whistle to blow,
Your brain computing where you want it to go.
An enigmatic expression on your face.
Not one Brylcreemed hair allowed out of place.

And I’m back on that windswept terrace in 1966.
You’re controlling the game with your magical tricks.
That car crash in Blackpool ended your England career,
But even past your prime you’re the best player we’ve ever had here.

Splitting defences with those pin-point passes
That teammates will usually squander.
And serving balls on a plate to the forwards steaming in
Which turned into the net would have secured that vital win.

And hands on hips you stand, casting a withering glare,
Before gazing upwards to offer a brief, silent prayer;
And trudging up-field in the light falling rain
To work the old magic again and again.

That spring day in 1961 at Wembley was your apogee,
When you scored twice and we thrashed the Scots 9-3.
As England captain, you were on top of the world.
And clubs near and far their fat chequebooks unfurled.

You could have won medals and glory at United or A.C. Milan,
But you chose to stay at Fulham as the first hundred-pound-a-week man.
For nine more years the Craven Cottage pitch you would grace.
And for eight straight seasons, you saved our First Division place.

It always seemed ordained that we would go down one day,
Because we sold our stars and put has-beens into the fray.
But after two relegations running we became truly third class,
As the sands of time drained implacably from your hourglass.

And so in January 1970 you called time on your Fulham odyssey.
Your 657 games and 157 goals in twenty years went down in history.
You put magic and joy into humdrum lives and put a smile into every eye.
A London lad with a leather ball showed just how high a human can fly.

Next year, after a bold young team won promotion back to the second tier,
It was said that your presence had curbed the development of others here.
No. You should have been the model for new generations wearing black and white.
At inside left you were not a giant oak shading saplings, but a beacon of light.

And now The Maestro you will always stay: it’s carved in stone on the plinth;
You grace an elysian field at Number Ten, in a spirit at one with Corinth.
Leading an inverted pyramid, in rows of one, two, three and five,
Which in fruity-voiced black-and-white Pathé newsreels only still survive.

Johnny, I hope that you win those medals and glory, and even a celestial M.B.E.
Today you’ve revived golden times on that terrace, hallmarked in my memory.
And one burning question that as man and boy I would never ever forget:
In your molten eyes, frozen in time, can I see just a tinge of regret?

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How You Keep Your Ruins

The arboretum’s real;
I told you at the time.
We never get the people through
the checkpoints and the river police;
I told you at the time.

The inland lakes are real;
I told you at the time.
A garden by John Tradescant,
bunkers and a driving range:
helmets are advised.

The rolling pasture’s real;
I told you at the time.
Beware the fence’s electric bite
and a lady popping out ‘Just to say,
don’t sit on my stile.’
Don’t sit on, don’t sit on,
don’t sit on my stile.

The offshore island’s real;
I told you at the time.
Someone bought the mooring rights,
the woodlands and the wildlife,
and the abbot’s given in.
The Duchy gave him a pickle shop
with shares in the labelling;
That’s how you keep your ruins.

The inner courtyard’s real;
I told you at the time.
Through the doors and down the stairs,
an eye scan at the porter’s lodge,
passport and a vial of blood
and don’t exceed your time.
Don’t exceed, don’t exceed,
don’t exceed your time.

The legends’ lounge is real;
I told you at the time.
Pictures of his stylish passes,
the Brylcreem boy from Hackney marshes;
his legacy’s alive
for gold members and debentures,
Chelsea bankers and corporate sponsors;
his legacy survives –
his legacy and its industry;
his legacy’s alive.

Read the book by Martin Plumb
with photographs by Ken Coton
and a poem by Crispin Thomas.
The club won’t sell it in their shop
as ‘authors trespass on our heritage stock
for supporters on a private plot –
their revenue is ours .’

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Undaunting Support.

“Go on, get stuck in,
Don’t be scared, a the likes of him?
Yer twice the bleating size, a that nippy little runt?
Try n pass the bleating thing
Not backwards, over here on the wing
Strewth! Watching this, is proper giving me the hump?”

“Wisha, ain’t that widder woman, got some mouth?”,
Deccy whispered tentatively, he daren’t shout,
Fearful of a vitriolic volley being aimed at him,
“Stopper, centre-half? Couldn’t stop a draught
Oi Youse! Don’t let the little runt wriggle past,
Wassamatter wiv ya, lost yer bottle? Get stuck in”.

“Oi lady, lady, give that north and south a rest
Young fella’s, out there, are giving of their best”,
“Oh, and who the fluff might you be?”, Deccy heard her scoff
“Fella trains that team to enjoy having a kick about
Maybe try n cheer them on, if you’ve got to shout?”,
Deccy, didn’t catch her reply, though the sentence ended…off?

Fast forward…Craven Cottage, by The Thames,
This widder woman, yes that’s right, her again
Screaming like a banshee at her team to, “Get stuck in”,
Few other choice words reverberating ageing stands
Ensued a crowd of heard it all before old hands,
Perched in The Cottage, acquired a mischievous grin.

Fulham F.C, at the time, short of an old pound note
Finding their club, a proper struggle to keep afloat
Due to a shortage of cash, decide to blood a fledgling pro
Well, the dogs abuse from the start of play
Dished out on what should have been a proper blinding day?
Caused a seasoned ex-pro, in the dug-out, serious woe.

“Ask our kit-man to nip over and have a word
With that tongue a blazing mean looking bird”,
Tell her to zip it shut, or I’ll call a match-day cop?”,

The kit-man nervously saunters back
Ears ringing post a quite profound verbal attack,
“Sorry gaffer, only caught every other sentence, ending…off”.

Moving on…we’re at our usual rendezvous
Waiting on a mini-bus, for a soiree to Man Yoo
A joke, a smoke, a tepid tea, perched on a wall,
“Oi Declan, where are you lot, off to then?
Bit early ain’t it, for you, twenty-five to ten?
Geezer spends his day in bed, doing sweet fluff all?

“Hello missus, I resemble that last remark
Off to Old Trafford, on a jolly, maybe have a laugh?
There’s a spare seat, fancy a day with us on a mini bus?”,
“What? Go and watch Chelsea, are you sure?
Bleating pile of (put politely) old horse manure?
Rather be over at The Cottage, though times is tough”.

“Can’t tempt you to come savour real class?
On a pukka pitch, sporting lush green grass?
Instead of a field of mud, scarcely a sod atop?”,
Just then our mini-bus arrived…bang on time
On waving goodbye, I saw her discreetly mime,
Two fingers in the air, sentences ending…off.

Time rolled on as time tends to do
Though Deccy n me, didn’t sit in the same pew
Every so often after, the game, we’d arrange a meet
I’m listening to the scores one day indoors
The phone rings, an excited Deccy roar’s,
“Switch on the telly, quick, see them just won the league?”

There in the middle of a wildly exuberant shot
Dear reader I kid you not?
Stood a face I knew, but whose whereabouts I didn’t know?
The slated centre half, beside the widder woman, (his mum!)
Couldn’t control her rabid expletive ridden tongue?
On a council playing field, or Craven Cottage, years ago.

Those who crack on regardless, and succeed
To reap rewards, are deemed fortunate indeed
More so from a dodgy start, than a bestowed toff?
After all, isn’t there something admirable to savour?
About a fella being driven, albeit by a gobby mater?
Ain’t afraid of abruptly ending her sentences…off?


Stay safe, come what may, and have a good day.

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Fulham’s Finest

There is a splendid tribute statue
Standing straight and proud,
For an icon of the Cottage
And a hero of the crowd.
Hands on hips
And a foot on the ball,
Regarded by Fulham
As the best of them all.
Johnny Haynes as a schoolboy,
Signed up for the game
And with Fulham behind him.
He soon made his name.
Described once by Pele
As the best he had seen,
His career really started
When he was just seventeen.
Eighteen years spent playing for Fulham,
Showing his class and his natural skill,
His exceptional passing remembered
And his talent is recognised still.
Fifty-six caps for his country,
Captain for twenty-two games,
Young players today
Could soon make their mark
By emulating the finest,
The great Johnny Haynes.

17/10/1934 – 18/10/2005

Ianthe Exall August 2015

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North Sheen Allotment

Sleeping in an allotment in North Sheen
Storm petrels and cormorants overhead
I think about the Balearics,
that Balearic beat,
the summer of love 1988
Ecstasy was riding a BMX as light faded,
kicking a ball at the garages,
chatting to the milkman
on freezing Saturday mornings
before football training. The summer of love
lasted until 1989 apparently.

For me it lasted a whole lot longer.
My first evening kick-off
at home to Chester, Michael Cole
with a bicycle kick, dad chatting to Edie
behind us, well into her eighties.
The Cottage was a ramshackle place,
ripped up seating, weeds growing
through the terraces, low attendances.
No memory for me of flags
along the riverside, 50,000 crammed in
against Millwall. It was just enough
to be there. No empty stands –

promotions, millions, satellite coverage –
could touch the times we had.

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Remembering Brave Johnny Haynes

isn’t it strange how emotions can change
like a blink in the wink of an eye
when just for a moment your world it stands still
no matter how hard you may try

I was back in a place in a whole other space
and the haunts of my footballing past
in the back streets of Fulham we’d play on those streets
and we thought that it always would last –
but there at the ground there was barely a sound
by the gates where the tributes all lay
just reporters and fans with their heads in their hands
and I’m lost and can’t think what to say

he was awesome prolific imposing terrific
all the times that I saw Johnny play
when the rafters would ring they would bellow and sing
at the Cottage some long ago day –
there’s a picture in flight you’re in black and in white
ln the colours of country and team
is it really all gone will your memory go on
when I wake will they say it’s a dream?

you were there at the top you were so hard to stop
in mud and in snow or in rain
and whatever is said there are goals in my head
that will linger and always remain –
there was Tony Macedo and your old mate Tosh
there’d be Langley and Robson and Hill
there are memories of Cup games and flags on the bank
I can capture it all and I will

and the bloke in his coat in that old rowing boat
collecting the ball from the Thames
the closeness the banter the wags in the crowd
they are days that we won’t see again –
for you were the heart of it so much a part of it
Johnny I’m shattered and sad
you were one of the first games that I ever saw
and the thought of it now makes me glad

glad to remember some hopeless defender
left strewn by your pace and that shot
you were lethal in flight like a thief in the night
you were marked liked some penalty spot

but isn’t it great how your memory is saved
in footage your legend remains
your name echoes loud – and I’m down but I’m proud
Remembering brave Johnny Haynes

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Source: https://footballpoets.org/news/poem-tags/fulham/