A Winter Morning, Clapham Common 1962.

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 As our blood red Double Decker
Undeterred by English weather
Climbed Lavender Hill well throttled in the snow
We sat terse on it’s top deck,
Football boots hung from our necks,
That our driver might not make it to the brow.

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 On our arrival at the summit
With crisp snow drifts fresh upon it
We trooped down soaking stairs to terra firma
Then duffel bags in hand
We surveyed the frozen wastes of land
And realized our sport might not go further.

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 No painted touchlines could we see?
No teacher, linesman, or referee
Had everyone in authority cleared off home?
Our expectant minds were all at sea
What in the blazes did this mean?
It couldn’t be, nah it wouldn’t be postponed?

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 There was bird like footprints in the snow
The shed like dressing rooms were frozen
A chalked on blackboard said “All Matches Off”
Some smug park keeper in his hut
Two warm hands wrapped around a mug
Seemed undeterred our Saturday morning sport was lost.

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 We didn’t even own a ball
The one for games came from our school
We couldn’t even have a game of kick and rush
So we trudged toward a rambling shack
That showed a sign said “Teas and Snacks”
Dejected at our loss of sport on turning up.

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 Sat inside the ancient café
We puffed discreetly on our fags
Fortified by hot brown sarsaparilla*
With warm bread pudding on white plates
We knew we’d had whatever it may take
To turn up primed to play despite the winter!



As we never had a telephone in our house growing up, primary school football matches played in the winter were a chance for us as nine year olds to show our mettle by: let’s jump on a bus, at least turn up and just see what happens?

No-one knew, or at least none of us ever did, if the match was on or off until you arrived at these archaic dressing rooms in the middle of a frozen public park or common somewhere “Over The Water” (Across the Thames) in South London.

What made it worse was most of the games I played in as a kid were played on those awful pink cinders pitches, that were so hard in the winter they cut yer legs to bleeding (sic) shreds.

The first time it happens to you as a kid, a postponement that is, you’re well and truly gutted, yer boots are dubbined, yer rearing to go, the whole of your week has been focused on the match and then due to the weather there’s nothing, it’s an awful empty feeling believe me, a Saturday morning sat in a cafe, minus the post match buzz, with yer mates pondering on what might have been?

Would we have won
Or would we have lost?
Who knows with no game
Due to snow and Jack Frost!

*Sarsparilla is a wonderful West Indian drink tasting similiar to root beer made from plant roots, that used to be sold hot or cold in small glasses on street markets and in park cafes over in South London.



Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/a-winter-morning-clapham-common-1962/