Collecting Autographs

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 0 Do you remember collecting autographs,
When the football specials steamed back west,
When the last faint gleams of terrace street sun
Slipped behind the shadows of the stands,
And the ground went abruptly quiet and numb,
When the crowd made its hot chocolate way home
And the terraces and streets were suddenly empty;
And do you remember the mayhem outside the players’ entrance –
Crowds of kids, scrap books and pens thrust upwards,
Huddled together by the red and white fence,
Hoping for names of star centre forwards,
Like me with my scrapbook with pictures stuck in
With flour paste, from all the Sunday papers,
Of players, arms aloft with toothless grins,
In wintry darkness, mud, mist, rain and vapours.
But my best prize was to have my programme signed,
Open in the middle with teams in 2-3-5 formation,
If you could get all 22 to sign on their lines
In symmetrical pattern – such elation!
It gave me order out of chaos,
Form out of function, and a record
Of events. You could file away reality
And you didn’t give a toss
Whether you won, drew or lost,
For autographs were the real actuality.


Inspired by the young man asking for Mr. Houllier’s autograph at the end of the match yesterday; and well done Mr. Houllier for signing. The sight also inspired memories of my stamp collecting, autograph collecting. train numbers collecting, unironic knitting pattern boyhood.

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/collecting-autographs/