Big Apples in Autumn

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 It’s that time of the year when autumn’s yellow leaves
Bring a golden yellow light to widespread spiders’ webs,
And all those windblown thistle heads,
That time of the year when you kick an apple across the common
And send a spray of dew soaked spangled drops into the air,
While the red berries of Arum maculatum, Lords and Ladies,
Make an unlikely set of aristocratic spectators,
At a kickabout football match on a common;
That time of the year when spring time vigour wanes and dies,
Like Stan Harland, white shirt Wembley hero of 1969,
League Cup winning grinning Swindon captain,
Holding high the cup in the shell shocked Arsenal air;
That time of the year when you see a photograph
Of all your laughing junior school football mates
In the local newspaper, and realise that they’ve all turned 50,
And so feel compelled to retrace your childhood steps to school,
For the first time in 40 years, knowing you might not do it again,
And notice, for the first time, how those familiar council bungalows,
The ones I passed every day for five years,
Those 1920’s socialist homes built for Great War heroes,
So closely resemble the Chartist model dwellings at Snig’s End,
Where I once had a flat pint in the pub that used to be the Chartist school,
Where fiery Fergus O’ Connor once made his fiery 6 Point speeches,
Denouncing Capital, Parliament and Monarchy,
And where I sat with my pint and my headphones,
Listening to the melancholy news of yet another home defeat;
That time of the year when you travel on the ‘bus
And hear an old man praising Hitler,
(“Old Adolf wouldn’t have put up with that,
It’d been better if we’d lost the war”)
While I’m reading about the Italian anarchists
Who all stand up in court and all give their name
As Luther Blissett, the ex-Watford and Milan striker,
On the basis that a collective identity precludes them from any necessity
Of paying for an individual ticket or fee,
And I put it to you that despite our Chartist heritage,
Such a thing does not happen here, Adolf.
But it’s that time of the year for the Worthington Cup,
Second round, single leg,
When your boss goes to the game and gets his tyres slashed,
As do so many other spectators, in acts of incoherent vandalism,
On a night when it seems preposterous to go to a football match,
As the TV images of that attack keep unrolling;
And it’s that time of the year when you take the Y7’s team-building,
With rafts and kayaks and lake and land games,
And you play football in the rain and Simple Simon in the cabin
While the sun played on the wind blown water,
While a giant Hercules aeroplane took off just down the lane,
Near the USAF base, just a few miles down the road,
On that eerie morning after that attack;
And you just know that no matter how much you analyse
And intellectualise about American Foreign Policy,
No matter how much you think about the role of the CIA and the SAS
In aiding what would eventually become the Taliban,
Back in the anti-Soviet 1980’s,
When you have a work-mate,
Whose daughter was just 5 minutes away from a New York death,
When Radio 5 half time football reports are interrupted
By a declaration of a war footing,
Then you know that both yourself and the World – and Football,
Will never be the same again.

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/big-apples-in-autumn/