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A ‘fifties Saturday

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 “Johnny Haynes photos a bob each”
The street seller shouts his wares
The collection of pennies handed over for the precious photo
That despite good intentions never reached a frame in place
Of honour on the mantelpiece…..
But instead in a shoe box, under my bed
Along with the varied trophies of youth.
And onward through the boys gate
And across the Hammersmith end
To my place on the Riverside Terrace
Above the gangway, and in front of a barrier
Each time with feet on that same step with the steel covered drain
As part of the ritual;
Elsewhere would be unlucky and see us lose.
Busy this week – over forty thousand in
Save the very last who being tallest
Will always choose to arrive at five past two…….
..to lay my careful plans to waste
By standing right in front of me.
I have to stretch myself to find ways to see the game…
The kick-off signals incessant rain
To make the turf glisten in gathering gloom
In those pre-floodlit days….
Desperate defence – and soon a collective sigh from our side.
“One down already”
An age seems to pass ..
Then from nowhere the leaden ball powered in
By way of Jezzard’s head to even the score.
Between the heads glimpses of the Maestro
But not by that name then; his record not yet complete.
A fleeting sight of the ball in the air on its way into Tosh’s stride
Memories that would later be held as almost sacred
Though then we were unaware …
Then Johnny running onto a clearance from defence
“What’s your inside left doing back there?”
Laughingly shouts a red-scarfed wag
But we knew the pattern of speed and feint
And left footed shot to settle the game…
The crowd thins and we are allowed a better view of victory
Anxious moments as the red shirts attack to the last
And we mortals aching for the end to come.
The ball now back to Black who boots it high and long
Into the darkening sky
And at last the sound of final whistle, cheered
…and with sighs of relief we join the throng
Down and through the flood gates at the Hammersmith End
The direction chosen by the crowd;
Happy and eager now for home and tea…
Then back down Harbord to the Palace Road
Elated; the rawness from shouting in our throats…
The smell of coal fires now pungent in the damp air
And crowding on the platform into the yellowish light of Trolleybus
And the smell of Woodbines and damp coats
To start the long crawl to Hammersmith Broadway
And crossing to get the “Standard “ with the full-time results
And to the promise of eels and pie and mash in Taylor’s
To make up for our missed dinner
And to round off a Saturday afternoon in style….
And being proud to answer “What was the score?”
from a passer-by
With “Two one…and Haynesy got the winner….”

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Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/a-fifties-saturday/