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Poems tagged ‘Johnny Haynes’

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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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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