Sport might seem trivial to some given recent world events, but it gives fans a focus and a sense of escape from their everyday problems.
Even the super-rich are not immune from trouble as Chelsea have recently demonstrated. Many clubs have owners with ‘interesting’ backgrounds, not just those beside the Thames and the Tyne, either.
With this in mind I’ve been looking at the grass roots and lower reaches of the game. Football at this level echoes the higher echelons of my youth: pitch-side ads for Rainham Steel and corned beef, programmes with ads for skip hire, local chairmen in sheepskin jackets, poor pitches, drinking and some violence and pitch invasions. It’s not nostalgic. Things get better and they get worse too. A better standard of football and facilities (in some cases) has priced many fans out. I’ve not watched the Premier League live for several years and I think it’s getting more distant. Perhaps we should all look out for our local clubs. For some fans there is always hope and I’ve tried to catch a bit of that here.
This is a poem about still believing and taking stubborn pride even when everything seems to be going against your team.
Ten Points Adrift
We’re bottom of the league, ten points adrift/The managers walked and we need a lift/But we never quit, we’ll shout and we’ll cry/Nobody loves us we’re Town till we die/Our chairman Reg made his wedge from skip hire/Knocked down half the town, set the rest on fire/There’s always rumours he’s selling our ground/The badge, the history, it’s yours for a pound/The debt too/
We eat cheese and chips in polystyrene/Our mascots a badger they won’t dry clean/We wave FA Cups made from Bacofoil/Our pitches are balding made from mining spoil/Our trophy cupboard’s bare there’s nothing to see/Just a losing final in ’70/We’ve had our share of legends, well a few/Davey Painter and Fred Jenks who signed for Crewe/Platty scored 30 but we still went down/Now he’s pulling pints at the Rose & Crown/And who could forget Mental Mickey Marr?/He’ll re-live the past while he valets your car/That ’70 squad was the best we had/Brickies and posties and factory lads/Now they’re granddads or in the cemetery/Cursing that crossbar it just wasn’t to be/At testimonials they’ll raise a fist/They’ll hold a grandchild to their face to kiss/Offer up a prayer they can rewind all those years/And write their name in silver instead of in tears/But we’re still dreaming we chant in the south stand/ We’ve no jobs. We’ve no Cups, We’ve still got our brass band.