I recently returned to my home town, where I took my better half to see a local park in which I’d kicked a soccer ball around as a teenager. It took me a while to recognise the place–it is so much better now: the local authorities and teams of volunteers have managed both to conserve a stretch of wild countryside in an urban environment and to make it a civic amenity. This is truly shocking. We all know that things are supposed to get worse, that nothing can possibly be as good as it was when we were young, healthy and hopeful.
Fortunately, soccer exists to console the ageing English fan. On 30 July 1966, England won the World Cup by beating West Germany at Wembley Stadium, London. Half a century later, England was humiliated at the European championships by Iceland. Since I was lucky enough to witness the former event at first hand, please join me for a little wallow in nostalgia.
I have to fight to get time free
from a summer job at the Castle Hotel,
washing, cleaning and clerking
to be up here in London,
a provincial doing the Wembley walk:
cigarillo in mouth, rosette on jacket,
hand clutching the entry voucher
to a sliver of history.
Though the Cup has been won an hour,
only pigeons fill Trafalgar Square.
News travels slowly, ecstasy
has yet to light the English party spirit.
I ride the train home to a town dormant
between its shopping and its pubs,
flee, five years after, to the World
that gives the Cup its name.
Bryan Murphy welcomes visitors at http://www.bryanmurphy.eu . You can find his e-books here: http://bit.ly/19vt7Ts and several of his poems and flash fiction pieces here: http://thecamelsaloon.blogspot.it/search/label/Bryan%20Murphy . Bryan is currently working on a novel set in Portugal in the 1970s.