My Ode to Football, commissioned for the FA’s 150th anniversary.

Earlier this year, I was commissioned by the Football Association to write a poem to mark their 150th anniversary.  We shot the poem, “An Ode to Football”, at Wembley and in south-west London, and it features guest appearances from several prominent figures in the football world, including Steven Gerrard, Arsene Wenger, Eniola Aluko, Gabby Logan and Theo Walcott. There are also several celebrity football fans who deliver lines of the poem, the best thing about which is that I can now say I have collaborated with Dizzee Rascal and Wretch 32. (Yes, it’s a bit tenuous, but hey, what the hell.)  The text of the poem is below, the video is at this link, and I hope you enjoy it; if so, please share.

“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 shinpads 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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