Friday, 23 January 2015

An Ode To Football

By Daniel Brownlie
Having just returned from watching Cambridge Vs Manchester United in the FA Cup, it's fair to say my love of the competition is still burning bright. OK - it may not have been the most entertaining of matches, but realistically it was never going to be. Unless Cambridge had sneaked a last minute winner, or United had scored an early goal, it was never going to be a classic. It started as a bit of a tennis match and ended up like bowling! With United camping in their half and despite poking at their back line, to their credit, the cambridge defence did not break. I love the FA Cup. For anyone that thinks the 'magic of the cup' has died, you only have too look at the Cambridge fans at the end of the game. It was as if they'd won the thing! 
I love Football. 
Here is, an ode to football...
This is football:
Yes, jumpers for goalposts in your local park,
With the lamp-posts as your floodlights,
And no-one watching but the stars.
This is football:
Where the groundstaff cut grass with a barber's care,
Where the terraces forever sing hymns to their favourite players.
This is football:
Hot coffee in the stands on midweek nights,
This is players squaring up,
But never actually starting fights.
This is football:
Each battle lasts an hour-and-a-half,
It's that war of rival scarves,
You can fight fair, or plunge to grass.
This is football:
Imitating that voice that reads Final Score,
This is transfer-window shopping,
It's Deadline Day on Sky Sports.
This is football:
Last in that half-time queue for the loo then food,
This is Sir Geoff Hurst on Wembley's turf in destiny's pursuit.
This is football:
Humming Match of the Day's theme tune as it starts,
Keeping your head down from thirty yards, and shivering crossbars.
This is football
This is panic,
Your defenders scrambling back,
When they realised the other team sitting deep,
Was just a trap.
This is football, this is football:
Cracked shin pads and all,
It's the innocent protest,
It's the "I barely touched him, ref!"
This is football:
This is not just 4-4-2 or 4-3-3,
This is what you do when you go one player down, and then concede.
This is football:
This is that banter you get at away grounds,
Which when you score that last-minute winning goal,
Is not so loud.
This is football:
Cup tie,
You've gone to penalties to sever the knot,
But your guts are all you've got,
And sudden death now marks the spot.
This is football:
Not prawn sandwiches,
You can find it in all languages,
It's your spilled pint in the pub,
When your team goes one-nil up.
This is football:
This is that fanzine which calls it harsh but fair,
This is catching coaches, planes and trains since your club needs you there.
This is football:
Practised against the wall, and in the hall,
It's those concrete playground moves,
That have ruined all your shoes.
This is football:
Lugging your team's laundry home from Sunday league,
This is playing online tournaments until sleep intervenes.
This is football:
It's a very big deal,
You can ask Bill Shankly,
It's that click-clack of the turnstile,
It's that Gazza-needs-a-hanky.
This is football:
Brought to you by The Football Association,
Formed in the Tavern of Freemasons,
One-fifty years in the making.
This is football:
Of all the sports, this is our nation's favourite,
And we speak to celebrate it,
So if you have a drink, please raise it.

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