I love this poem – thanks AtS
As bulldozers close in upon our old, beloved home
and those who stand to profit rub their hands
so we gather here together in sad, angry disbelief
and for one last time our voices fill the stands.
This is no happy parting, but a battle-scarred farewell
though victory hopes are mingled with the tears
And I, like you, will stand here as the final whistle blows
with memories which echo down the years…..
The Chelsea fans threw pennies. Old ones. Sharpened. I was eight.
A target in the South Stand with my dad
And he got rather battered as he held me close and tight
and confirmed my view that Chelsea fans were mad!
And there, on those old wooden seats, I learned to love the game.
The sights and sounds exploded in my head.
My dad was proud to have a son with football in his blood –
but two short years later, he was dead.
Eleven. I went on my own. (My friends liked chess and stuff.)
‘Now don’t go in the North Stand!’ said my mum.
But soon I did. Kit Napier’s corner curled into the net.
Oh god. The Bournemouth Boot Boys! Better run….
Then Villa in the big crunch game. A thirty thousand crowd.
Bald Lochhead scored, but we still won the day.
Then up, and straight back down again. Brian Powney, brave and squat.
T.Rex, DMs and scarf on wrist, OK?
And then the world was wonderful. Punk rock and Peter Ward!
And sidekick ‘Spider’ Mellor, tall and lean.
The legendary Walsall game. Promotion. Riding high.
Southampton-Spurs: that stitch-up was obscene.
The final glorious victory. Division One at last!
Arsenal, first game, midst fevered expectation.
Those Highbury gods tore us to shreds; we learned the lesson well.
Steve Foster was our soul and inspiration!
Man City came, and Gerry Ryan waltzed through them to score
And mighty Man United bit the dust.
Notts Forest, and that Williams screamer nearly broke the net.
The Norwich quarter-final: win or bust!
And after Wembley, Liverpool were toppled one last time.
The final curtain on those happy days.
And then the years of gradual, inexorable decline –
sadly for some, the parting of the ways.
But we stayed true, as glory days turned into donkeys’ years.
Young, Trusson, Tiltman, Farrington. Ee-aw!
A Wilkins free-kick nearly brought us hope. ‘Twas not to be.
The rot was deep and spreading to the core.
We found our voice and Lloyd was gone. Hooray! But worse to come.
Though just how awful we were yet to know.
Dissent turned to rebellion and then to open war
as on the terrace weeds began to grow.
The Goldstone sold behind our backs! Enraged, we rose as one
against a stony northern businessman.
We drew a line, and said: ENOUGH! And as the nation watched
the final battle for our club began.
We fought him to a standstill. Fans United. All for one.
A nation’s colours joined: a glorious sight.
And, finally, the stubborn, stony Archer moved his ground
and made way for our own collective Knight.
The battle’s only just begun, but we have won the war.
Our club, though torn asunder, will survive.
And I salute each one of you who stood up and said NO!
And fought to keep the Albion alive.
And one day, when our new home’s built, and we are storming back
A bunch of happy fans without a care
We’ll look back on our darkest hour and raise our glasses high
and say with satisfaction: we were there.
But first we have to face today. The hardest day of all.
Don’t worry if you can’t hold back the tears!
We must look to the future, in dignity and peace
as well as mourn our home of ninety years.
For me the Goldstone has an extra special memory
of the football soulmate I so briefly had.
He christened me John Charles and taught me to love the game.
This one’s for Bill. A poet. And my dad.