Saturday, 14 April 2018 17:53

Willie Young’s elbows have been sawn off

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Willie Young’s elbows have been sawn off

Willie Young’s elbows have been sawn off

by Martin Hayes

12 years old and out the station onto Gillespie Road
it’s only 40 minutes before kick-off and no tickets in our pockets yet
but that was how it was back then
you didn’t need to have saved for over 5 months
gone without
to build up a ticket float
or luck out on a mate of a mates who couldn’t make the match
had a season ticket up for lending
as long as you covered the costs
it was more like a decision made over breakfast
or after a row between him and his new girlfriend
where he’d finally go, ‘fuck it son, let’s go to the match’
and there we were
me trying to keep up with him as he weaved through the buzz of the crowd
past the old factory
where luxury flats now stand costing more than the price of a French full back
a Portuguese left winger
and as we turned onto Avenell Rd he’d stop
turn around and slip me that 50p
leaving me at the schoolboy’s entrance telling me
not to hang around, to use my elbows if need be
like the great Willie Young
and then he was gone
me handing the guy in the hut that 50p before pushing through that turnstile
the creaks of it sounding like a tanker ship being let off to sea
waiting there then
at the side entrance to the North Bank
where all of the dads and uncles and brothers had paid their £3.50 entry fee
and it’d take an age there
sometimes long enough that you’d feel like you’d been abandoned
shit yourself about never getting home again
but finally he’d appear, “oi, son! get a move on”
and then you were in
following him towards the steps that led up into the North Bank
and as you got up to the top of them
it’d open up into
the greatest feeling in the world

but this is not a feeling that can be passed on anymore
this is not a feeling
that can be passed to our daughters and sons
it has been stolen from them
turned into a circus
where tickets cost more than one weeks’ rent one months’ electricity
one fortnightly food shop and an extra bottle of wine
where tv and the Murdochs
have slit the stomach of it
pulled out the entire guts of our traditions
for a euro and a rouble
and Willie Young’s elbows
have been sawn off
now walks
like a ginger ghost inside our heads
looking for a ball of anger to boot from our couches
up into the Sky

Read 569 times Last modified on Sunday, 15 April 2018 16:23
Martin Hayes

Martin Hayes has worked in the courier industry for 30 years. His latest collection is The Things Our Hands Once Stood For, published by Culture Matters.