Poems tagged ‘Wembley’

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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That Photo of Jimmy Greaves

It captures him to a T. Look: eyes locked on the ball,
His face a mask of grim determination, he’s
Opening up like a cheetah chasing a springbok,
Showing the defender a clean pair of heels,
Who, lunging in, shows a studded sole in return.
It will gash his shin and need fourteen stitches.
It’s England v France at Wembley in July 1966.
They’re hosting the eighth World Cup competition.

Geoff Hurst will take his place and grab his chance.
Alf Ramsey will decide not to change a winning team.
He will score a hat-trick in the final versus West Germany,
Become an English hero and a knight of the realm in 1998.
Jimmy will finally collect an MBE in 2021.
What a player he was! We were watching Match of The Day
On the BBC. It must have been in the late 60s,
Because the picture was still fuzzy black-and-white.

Spurs had a free kick just outside the penalty area.
And twenty-one wild emotions were facing off
Over the defensive wall. “Come on, ref! Spurs players
Are muscling in!” “Their wall isn’t ten yards away!”
Only one man heard the referee’s whistle in the melee.
He stepped up with cerebral serenity from a short run
And placed the ball in the corner of the net,
While the goalkeeper was still shouting the odds.

It was his intellect that set Jimmy Greaves apart.
But in the seventies his decline began.
He started to drink. And the more he drank
The lower he sank. Was a snowball of regret,
Resentment and self-doubt rolling around and
Growing in his mind? Did he wonder why Fate
Stole his chance to be England’s World Cup hero?
Would they even have won with him in the team?

Were the snow clouds already louring as he sat out the final,
Suited in the July heat? Was his face ashen at the end amid
The ecstasy on the bench at the horror of his extinct dream
As the eleven men in red and white achieved immortality?
There was Nobby Stiles’s jig and Bobby Charlton’s tears.
Bobby Moore, chaired by the team, raising the Jules Rimet trophy
In his right hand. While the other squad members would only make
It into the footnotes of football history and the odd pub quiz.

Ten years later I would stand on the terrace at Fulham F.C. for a
Testimonial match. On the team sheet were many players well
Past their prime. One of them was Jimmy Greaves. His hair was
Thinner but longer. He had a droopy moustache and sunken eyes.
But neither time nor alcohol had ravaged that great football brain.
With one touch he scored the greatest goal I have ever seen.
As of old he turned and ran back up the field for the restart.
There may have been a brief smile and a wave. But that was it.

He beat the booze and found fame as the funny half of
Saint and Greavesie On TV. Always deadly serious on the pitch,
His on-screen barrow boy, cheeky chappie charm served him well.
Until football moved up-market. But as much as I enjoyed it,
It still grated on me. His erstwhile skill merited better tokens than
One-liners and a Spitting Image puppet Saying, “It’s a funny old game.”
It deserved to be preserved in joyous aspic in red and white on sweeping
Sward. With The Boys of 1966. At Wembley. But it wasn’t meant to be.



Ray Wilkins 1956 – 2018

At the tender age of eighteen
Stamford Bridge he made his mark
The boy did ‘dangerously well’
A class act on and off the park

Deft touches and radar passes
Is how we’ll celebrate Ray
That lob and chip against Belgique
Elegant and masterful play

An FA Cup final curler
Ray rocked the mic at Wembley
He valued the small people
The cleaner, the fan, the trainee

Old Firm stunner for that Ibrox hero
Today he’d be England’s Pirlo
Leggenda Rossonera
Ciao Ray from the San Siro

©emdad rahman

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Sometimes (FGR 3- 1Tranmere R )

sometimes words are hard to find
to just express in prose or rhyme
the magnitude of this promotion
this relief and this emotion
felt in ev’ry single fan
and longed for since the rise began
who dreamt of this through thick and thin
the scrappy loss the narrow win
who came up here to sit or stand
so often with their heart in hand
the quiet seats that saw it all
the final noise to heed the call
but now our hearts beat louder than
some drum and bass or garage band
like shackled prisoners breaking free
we’ve fin’lly made it to the league
and care not what they say or do
the day we find out dreams comes true

it’s hard to work it’s hard to sleep
the sounds and images that keep
repeating over in our brain
they rumble on just like the train
or coach or car that brought us home
from Wembley that we made our own
we hold our breath we count to ten
but then re-live it all again
and just like little children do
we realize that dreams come true

the changes burst like sun through mist
that some at first tried to resist
convinced they could not work or last
content to wallow in the past
those seasons that would end in tears
for some it lasted decades – years
a century in black and white
the darkest depths that begged for light
the struggles here that they endured
the endless longing oft ignored
when for so long what kept hopes up
was some big draw here in the Cup
the ship that nearly ran aground
until by chance a hand was found
whose vision beckoned green and new
to prove that sometimes dreams come true

but now with concepts blown aside
the moans and groans replaced with pride
we rub our eyes we can’t believe
this thing that we’ve at last achieved
and though the road looms large ahead
with tougher tests and days ahead
how great that now after so long
we’ve fin’lly found our voice and song
and sound and look like the real thing
what dramas will next season bring?
it just reminds us – me and you
that yes ..sometimes ..dreams do come true


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