Parking the Bus

parking-the-bus

To park the bus –  metaphor – to play very defensively, to get a lot of players behind the ball, to have no attacking play, to make it almost impossible for the opposition to score, as if a bus  is parked in front of the goal. Tactic attributed to José Mourinho when manager of Chelsea.

PARKING THE BUS

For José. After Henry Reed

To-day we have parking the bus. Yesterday,

We had conning the ref. And tomorrow morning,

We shall have how to waste time. But to-day,

To-day we have parking the bus: the scent of liniment

Sweat and fresh-mown grass drifts across the pitch,

And to-day we have parking the bus.

This is the ankle breaking tackle. And this

Is the studs up tackle, whose use you will see,

When you are given your boots. And this is the offside trap,

Which in your case you have not got. The coaches

pace on the touchline with their frowns and foul language,

Which in our case we have not got.

This is the goal line clearance, which is always performed

With an easy flick of the foot. And please do not let me

See anyone using his hand. You can do it quite easy

If you have any strength in your foot. The injured

Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see

Any of them using their hands.

And this you can see is the dive. The purpose of this

Is to fool the ref, as you see. We can dive

Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this

drawing the foul. And rapidly backwards and forwards

The forwards plummet and the midfielders plunge:

They call it drawing the foul.

They call it drawing the foul: it is perfectly easy

If you have any strength in your foot: like the shirt pull,

And the high tackle, and the shoulder charge, and the trip,

Which in our case we have not got; and the physios

with their magic spray, and the balls going backwards and forwards,

For to-day we have parking the bus.

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2016

Poem a Day 2015 #18 – No Smoke

Poem number 18 for April 2015.  “The blaze that killed 56 football fans at Bradford City’s Valley Parade ground in 1985 was just one of at least nine fires at businesses owned by or associated with the club’s then chairman, according to extraordinary evidence published for the first time”.

No Smoke

the old ground

the turnstiles

the fathers

the sons

the tickets

the rows of seats

 

The final match of the season

Bradford versus Lincoln

A celebration of promotion

The trophy presented pre-match

 

the railings

the spikes

the terraces

 

Wooden stands painted in claret

A festive atmosphere

A relaxed first half

 

the smell

the smoke

the chants

 

At first just a feint smell of smoke

People still singing

Men eating pies

The crowd retreats

to the back of the stand

People chatting

Then thicker smoke

 

the disbelief

the panic

the running

the rush

the crush

the stairwells

the corridors

the flames above

the amber

the blackness

 

The game goes on until the flames are visible

The crowd in the stand heads for the stairwells

The corridors under the stand are packed

The wooden structure above is engulfed

The turnstiles are locked

Nowhere to go

 

the rescuers

the scars

the charred

the screams

the 56 dead

 

eight or more fires

at businesses of

Bradford’s then-chairman

Stafford Heginbotham

insurance claims

worth twenty seven million

 

the warnings

the previous

the insurance

the truth

 

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/apr/16/bradford-fire-secretary-supporters-club

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015