Archive for the ‘General Football Verse’ Category

One of my ranting verses, loosely inspired by this story hich made the regional press throughout the north-west this week.    [ Oh and also inspired by the song by the mighty Half Man Half Biscuit, ‘Fun Day in the Park’].

 

     Fun Day at the Seaside!

 

My nephew saw it advertised on the internet,

“Junior footy tournament, our biggest event yet –

Tourneys for all age-groups, on Saturday and Sunday”

And why not stay over for a seaside holiday Monday?

 

“Something for all the family, it’s not just the football:

Face-painting, mask-making, tournament souvenir stall,

Tournament film or photo service, reasonable fees,

We’ve got discounts for campsites or local B & B’s;

 

Ice creams, balloons, hamburgers and hot dogs,

Beat the goalie, bouncy castle, photos with our mascots.

All this, and much, much more – you’ll be surprised.”

Nephew was insistent, we called his club, got organised

His team had never been to a big tournament before

So we forgot to ask about the “much, much more”.

 

******

The sun shone bright, as did some skilful girls and boys

A few parents on the touchlines made encouraging noise.

Impressive was the spirit from all our little fellas.

But oppressive was the spirit from a few other yellers.

 

“Get stuck in Josh, d’you wanna win Josh? Josh get in his face!

Josh be a man, he’ll bottle it, if you don’t give him no space.

Josh just boot it up the field, anywhere near our Ryan –

He’s just a better player, i’n’e?  And is Josh even tryin’?”

 

These were the parents of ten year-olds, no older

I bet kids’ games don’t sound like this at FC Barcelona.

And then, in the quarter finals, one incident I saw

Was what made me wonder ‘bout the “much, much more”.

 

Much, much more getting in the ref’s face

Much, much more calling her “a disgrace”.

Much, much more swearing at this teenage ref,

Much, much more calling her “blind and deaf.”

 

‘Cos she wouldn’t listen when your lad went down

With his much, much more diving and rolling around.

Much, much more running onto the pitch

Much, much more calling the ref a b*tch.

 

And, as the opposite touchline shouted you down,

Much, much more insulting about their rival town.

At my nephew ‘s first tournament, this was what we saw

Ref in tears, match abandoned – much, much more.

 

I had to wonder who was much, much more mature-

Them, or the kids that they were shouting for?

They were much, much more judgemental

Much, much less gentle, distinctly un-parental,

 

I could see the damn mental in their fundamental,

But where was the fun, which should be central?

It ain’t necessarily so, folks, it ain’t necessarily so.

Things that you’re liable to think won’t be tribal,

It ain’t necessarily so.

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So spring truly springs this weekend as the clocks go forward. But hope fades for most of us, as our football teams go backward.

At this time of year I think this little piece of verse is appropriate to most of us, whoever we support. It’s an adaptation by my comrade Gary Kaye of Philip Larkin’s famous poem.

This be the Curse

They f*ck you up, your football team.
They do not mean to, but they do.
They try to make you live the dream,
But leave you feeling sad and blue.

Fan hands on misery to fan,
From Football League to FA Cup.
So get out early, while you can,
And tear your season ticket up.

I hope Gary himself hasn’t yet torn his own season ticket up, though I would respect him if he had. Gary used to be Leeds United’s ‘Poet in Residence’, but was sacked by Leeds’ despotic owner (ahem, sorry Chairman) Ken Bates about 3-4 years ago, just for penning something slightly critical of a poor signing.  Bates is the sort of megalomaniac who can’t stand any criticism – he’s even banned that excellent prize-winning football reporter David Conn, just for asking who actually owns the Leeds shares (Bates denies that he himself or anyone else  holds more than 10%, and as such he, or anyone else, has so far managed to wriggle out of the “fit and proper owners” investigations).

Piratical beard, piratical attitudes:
'Master' Bates of offshore infamy.

But now that Bates is starting to ban Leeds United’s own most loyal supporters – the activists of Leeds United Supporters’ Trust – I could understand if some of them started saying “I’m not going till he goes”. Easy for me to say, I know, but if my club had a match at Elland Road I would certainly help organise an away fans’ boycott in solidarity with the banned Leeds supporters.

And by the way, good luck to you Gary  in your local election campaign this May – you’ll be as much an assett to Leeds, and possibly still to Leeds United, on the City Council as you were in your former poetic role.

Like Liverpool’s former owners  a couple of years ago, Mr. Bates, be careful who you turn into enemies. I note that about  a thousand more people have joined the L.U.S.T. protest movement since your counter-productive bans began – it’s all about critical mass.

And while you’re at it, pay your tax, you offshore pirate tw*t.

Out of the Frying Pan … ?

‘How do you know these new American owners are better than the last lot ?’ asked a mate.

‘They can’t be any worse.’ I said.

‘Err, have you seen what the new chairman’s said in his first interview ? Even Hicks and Gillett never came out in favour of Game 39.’

‘What ? Please, no.’

...into the fire ?

OK, so perhaps Liverpool’s new co-owner Tom Werner (pictured right with NESV supremo John Henry) was only responding to some stirring by an interviewer when he said yesterday that he would be in favour of English league matches being played in the USA or elsewhere overseas, but his lack of awareness of how strongly the domestic LFC fanbase would be against this idea is a  bit worrying.  Two and a half years ago when this idea was seriously floated, the then Liverpool Chief Exec Rick Parry quickly came out against it, and premier league owners like David Gold who did support the plan quickly became figures of hate.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/nov/06/liverpool-tom-werner-39th-game-abroad

Liverpool’s new owners must now be left in no doubt that supporting such a move would cost them dearly. I’ve done my bit by e-mailing them … errm … some verse on the subject. Don’t laugh – poetry really does frighten some people, and bad poetry frightens even more. I’m told that Mr. Werner has an English degree, so with any luck  my doggerel will give him the nightmares his pronouncements deserve !

It was one of my proudest moments when I heard (from a contact in the BBC ) how much this poem irritated Premier  League Chief Exec Richard Scudamore when he heard me ranting it on the radio in 2008. A few days later I was part of a Football Supporters’ Federation  delegation at Premier League HQ and we really seemed to rattle Mr. Scudamore when we suggested that the likes of Barclays would actually lose a lot of customers if the league they sponsored went abroad. Practically choked on his Evian he did. It was as if it had never occurred to him that we had that kind of economic clout and the anger to use it, and from that moment he seemed to back-pedal. Hit them in the ba**s folks, where it hurts (i.e. the banks), every time.

And to anyone  who thinks this is an over-reaction, well we should over-react to the slightest hint of this kind of bollocks.  Here’s the poem. It refers to the FSF petition from 2½ years ago. Hopefully we won’t all need to sign another one.

A GAM£ TOO FAR
So Scudamore, you’ve finally out-blattered Blatter,
At showing loyal local supporters don’t matter.
What matters is your fat cats, getting fatter
With their CRAZY GAM£ 39.

Treat the world like you treat our lower divisions –
Stifle their economies, their leagues’ ambitions,
Anything for your leading market position
While they say NO! to GAM£ 39.

We don’t CARE if you say there’s ‘market demand’
We don’t care for your jargon, ‘growing the brand’,
You’re stealing our game, and being rightly panned,
We say NO! to GAM£ 39.

What’ll be your next NFL-style notion ?
Franchises? No relegation, no promotion?
Silent stadia ? Ban all passionate devotion ?
That’s the spirit of GAM£ 39.

Platini thinks it’s a joke, FIFA think it’s naff,
The Asian Federation won’t have it at their gaff,
Journos joke and jibe, but it’s not just a laugh
Even the Mail says “No Game 39!”

I haven’t met one match-goer who likes your plan,
Unless they’re a fat cat sponsor or chairman !
Even my dog hates it, and he’s an armchair fan !
He says NO! to GAM£ 39.

Stick to overseas friendlies, tours & exhibitions,
Let’s overturn this greedy, grasping decision,
Please sign the fsf.org.uk petition,
Say NO! to GAM£ 39.

They expect us to lie down, to toe the line,
Continental ultras would resist ! Do we lack spine ?
But it’s a game too far, is GAM£ thirty-nine !
The resistance starts here – everyone – sign !

***********************

Together with the poem I’ve sent a bit of background about what happened 2½ years ago, to make sure Mr. Werner knows our feelings on the matter. I’ll let you know whether and how he responds !

Of all the moronic nonsense we have to put up with from football commentators every week, the one that’s perhaps irritated me most often and most consistently over the years is the imbecilic idea that somehow you can be “denied by the woodwork” or “unlucky to hit the post twice”, etc. Yes I know I could just turn the sound down, but I need to know who the players are. So commentators please read this and cut out your “woodwork came to the rescue” crap once and for all.

Woodwork Lessons

I’ve looked at goals from both sides now,
From in the stands and on the fields,
And one fact my observation’s conclusively proved
The goal does not shift much, it shall not be moved.

According to the commentators, Portsmouth were “plucky”,
And hitting the woodwork was somehow “unlucky”.
But I fail to see fortune’s fickle finger at play
The way Tyldesley did on the telly today
I’ve never seen woodwork “come to the rescue”
Of a keeper who was beaten by Dan Petrescu.

I’ve not seen nets narrow, or posts nudge nearer
To “unfortunately deny” a Sheringham or Shearer.
Never seen a goal siege relieved by a crossbar
Which slipped down and slide-tackled Didier Drogba.

Strikers train with the same target several days a week,
They’re professionals, psychologically and in physique,
They’ve perfected fine arts with all parts of their feet,
So when they have only the keeper to beat…

They are not “unfortunate” when they hit the bar
Just like I’m not, if I scrape a gate-post with me car.
They’re not cruelly cursed if they strike the upright
Nor am I if me head strikes the bedpost at night.
And if I happen to splash that old toilet seat
Nobody tells me I’m “unlucky in defeat”.

And if a side hits the woodwork five times in one game
It’s their finishing, not “fortune” or “fate” to blame.
The commentators rave on about “luck” but the fact is
Their powers of reasoning need more practice.

(As do many of their geometrical calculations.
Any schoolboy knows that in acute-angle situations
The outside and front of the frame can offer about as large
And therefore as probable a target as the goal itself,
When you’re trying to put it round the keeper).

It’s elementary Motson, it’s simple Sinstadt,
You don’t need to be Euclid, young kids know that
Hitting the outside of the post is like shooting well wide,
And only serves to irritate
Your far better-placed mate,
As he screams his head off at you in the five-a-side.

Tragic heroes make their own luck, deserve what they get
When they marry their own mum, or run over her pet.
When your last minute love-letter goes under the mat
It’s just off-target, nothing star-crossed in that.

OK, OK then, maybe one small concession
If – let’s say about ten times in succession
Your shot hits both posts and then the keeper gets it
Then that might just be unfortunate, maybe a bit.

But clichés aren’t clever, minnows aren’t “plucky”
And hitting the woodwork is far from “unlucky”.

BBC Five Live asked me to write a few poems during World Cup 2006. Looking back now, the one I’m particularly proud of is the one I performed the day after the Australia v. Croatia game, Graham Poll’s infamous  “three yellows make one red” fiasco. It’s based on a great original poem, The Referee’s Alphabet  by Nigel Blackwell of Half Man Half Biscuit, to whom apologies and many plaudits are due.

Graham Poll’s Alphabet

A is for Australians, so friendly to me
B is for Being Britain’s Biggest-name Referee

C is for Counting Cards and Cursing Croatians
D is for Diving, AKA simulation

E is EVERYTHING, which thanks to ME this game had
F is for Fourth Official – his night was just as bad !

G is for Ghost writer – I’m going to need one
H is my Hero – Clive Thomas I’m modelled on

I is for Intentional, which handball needs to be
And for Invisible, which it often is to me

J is the Jet Plane that I’m leaving on
K is for K.O-ed, my final hopes, GONE !

L, of Course is for Letting the game Flow
& L is the fine LINE to Losing Control

M is for Mark Viduka, and our mutual admiration
N is non-verbal, I don’t speak Croatian

O is for my forthcoming Optician’s appointment
Pre-booked, 10th July, pass me the Ointment

P is for being Pushed, isn’t that a Red card ?
Maybe, but showing 2 cards at once is so hard.

Q is for Questioning my parentage, and decisions
R is for Rugby tackles in unsighted positions

S is for Sepp Blatter, such a tactful fellow
and T is for a groundbreaking Triple Yellow

U is Unclear. Unrepentant. Unconsoleable
V is for Video Refs, to make things controllable.

W is the World Cup Final Whistler. Woe is me !
and X is for being an X-referee

X is also the Xmas card lists I won’t be on
Like ex-Yugoslavia my name is …. gone

and Y are the former Yugoslavians, Yelling at me,
and Z is Zagreb, where I’ll never again referee

Or Zeljko, Ozzie keeper, another comedy act.
Or Zlatko, the Croatian boss, like me – sacked.


Some verse written nearly 6 years ago but still relevant with every stupid, needless refereeing f*ck-up, whether it’s beach balls in Sunderland or  handballs in Paris… I’ve even made up a tune for this one on guitar, but I’m not good enough to play it, so if you know anyone who fancies backing me on this particular protest song let me know.

Video Referees Now !

For years you’ve just stood by Sepp Blatter
While the fat cats of football just get fatter.
Justice in the the game doesn’t seem to matter
But  we  need justice in football now.

For justice is the basis for all sporting law,
But if a referee’s eyes aren’t enough any more,
If the game’s so fast they can’t tell what they saw,
We need video referees now!

You play fat cat politics to hold onto power
And sit with moneymen in an ivory tower,
Girls in shorter shorts? Play 4 quarters, 2 hours?
What are you dreaming up now?

When a ball’s in the goal for all to see –
Everyone except linesman and referee!
It’s clear to the crowd and it’s clear to me –
We need video referees now!

You say we might try video for balls across the line,
But if a ref can’t see those, what hope for truly fine
Judgements on penalties, and hair’s breadth offsides?
We need video referees now!

You can shrug and say that over the season
Good and bad luck will end up breaking even
Will Henry’s handball break even? That’s the reason
We need video referees now!

The ubiquitous cretin on a phone-in will plead there
That “a bit of controversy is what all games need, yeah?”
Yes, and miscarriages of justice are good for the media,
But we need video referees now.

I tell you Sepp, just a few short year’s hence
Every match will run smoothly with video evidence,
And your Luddite delaying will be seen as nonsense.
We need video referees now!

Mistakes ruin our Saturday, ruin our Sunday
They affect our lives, these blunders aren’t funny,
I bet we’ll see change when it earns you big money!
We need video referees now!

The said video replays would ruin other games
But cricket and rugby are still just the same!
Come on Sepp, don’t be afraid of change,
We need video referees now!