Thoughts While Standing Beside The Statue of Johnny Haynes at Craven Cottage

1 Leave a comment on verse 1 1 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.

2 Leave a comment on verse 2 0 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.

3 Leave a comment on verse 3 0 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.

4 Leave a comment on verse 4 0 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.

5 Leave a comment on verse 5 0 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.

6 Leave a comment on verse 6 0 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.

7 Leave a comment on verse 7 0 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.

8 Leave a comment on verse 8 0 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.

9 Leave a comment on verse 9 0 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.

10 Leave a comment on verse 10 0 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.

11 Leave a comment on verse 11 0 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.

12 Leave a comment on verse 12 0 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?


Johnny Haynes was probably the finest player I ever saw, even though he was past his best when I first saw him. He used to bamboozle his team-mates with pin-sharp passes and after they had wasted a gilt-edge chance he would put his hands on his hips and give The Haynes Stare of anger mixed with regret and disappointment. He deserved to play in a much better team, and Fulham never seemed to have enough ambition. Many people used to say that he held the team back. That might be arguable, but I cannot see why a player who could provide match-winning, defence-splitting passes time and time again could be a hindrance. The statue is stunning and uncannily creates that mysterious presence he had, while standing in a characteristic pose, just wanting to get on with the game.

Source: https://footballpoets.org/poems/thoughts-while-standing-beside-the-statue-of-johnny-haynes-at-craven-cottage/