Three Footballing Heroes Of The School Yard.

The once smoky atmosphere of the bar,

now cleaned by regulation

but somehow losing its charm

in the modern day transformation

would always see conversation

take shape in the air

about who was the greatest

footballer that ever lived.

Names bandied round

like solid facts,

all different and full of truth in their own way,

I offered a Dutch master, poise and panache

the steady stroke of artistry,

drawn from memory,

painted with deft strokes and unnerving realism,

vivid with expression, imagination

running riot of the green canvas…


I was holding back,

for the three finest

I saw in my childhood gaze

David Barren, Tom Metcalfe and Billy Downie

were the ones who should have been praised,

lofted high and adored,

for if you can play like that,

with composure amongst school yard trash,

litter and the sense that any minute

you will have to grab the ball and run,

and ready-made teenage insults

with the guts to take on

the fourteen year old with a chip on the shoulder,

Norman Hunter’s personal nightmare,

then for Tom, David and Billy,

they were the greatest I ever saw.


Ian D. Hall 2017