The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want.
It’s a ritual, the prep, the layers of warmth worn
with the red and blue battle weary scarf.
Walking to the ground through dark graffiti-ed ginnels,
blocks of terraced houses
the ground gathers in, from pubs, Burton Lane Club,
strolling, trudging, striding, swaggering.
Past the ‘Road Closed’ sign, as the drizzle falls
the tannoys blast out,
‘Ooh, heaven is a place on earth’
and the pies bake, the smell a sensory bliss.
Outside the sparsely stocked club shop with its sign
outlining when it is closed , we meet.
And my cup overflows.
We pay for our ticket
but there is no ticket, just a nod towards the
narrow unlit stone stairs that rise up
to the glorious green, the glittering light
Of the gladiators ground.
In pastures green, he leadeth me.
We chatter and natter and above the facing stand
the trees shoot out randomly,
making winter patterns in the sky with their dark dormant branches
going soft green as the season wears on
and the random shots on the pitch form
the league table.
At half time we skip back down the stony steps
Along to the shabby shack where a large tea and chocolate bar
cost £2.80 or if you have the meal deal, a large tea and a chocolate bar
My soul he doth restore again.
The players return. We’re one nil up.
Our catch up chat is over now.
Focus on the footy.
Help the team.
Cheer the good bits.
Ten minutes to go.
Still one nil.
3 points, hang on.
Don’t drop too deep.
Keep someone up for an out ball
4 minutes of added time!
At last the whistle blows.
A win, the crackling tannoy blasts over its stutter
‘Touchin me, touchin you’,
Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me.
Good times never seemed so good’