MANCHESTER'S TRIUMPH: In Memory Of Red U's

With apologies to Poet Laureate Andrew Motion's `In Memory Of Ted Hughes'

Teddy knew and Gunnar knew, but I did not know

and Darren, who was with me, didn't have a clue

how our spun-out last minute miracle double

would be the best ones we'd get. We had been stitched

up before, that I did know, and dribbling from one side

of your mouth the Stella Artois stained your away shirt.

"It's goals did it," you said afterwards, passing one big can

over the punters to me and wiping the froth off the edge

"You can't have too few goals or you find the whole

shebang goes crash." It was a small front bar

where we were squeezed together jammed in

between the pool table and a large pile of chairs

which was alright if everyone kept still

but wobbled whenever the action went down the

German end. And threatened to fall down altogether

when Basler drove the ball, possibly through Babbel's

legs, inside the far post with Peter Schmeichel still

standing with his mouth open like a fivepenny flytrap

we sat down again, the place so tight in fact

that each of the stacked-up tables now shuddered

every time that anyone so much as lit a fag or pulled

another ring tab. That "goal," drawn out, five-foot screen

in slo-mo was dismal, a low moaning growl broke out

then one or two of the lads had to nip off for a slash

in short they swivelled then fall silent and stared

before the interval and Darren ordered two more Stellas

as well as mine, and went back to his seat chastened.

Ten minutes into the second half, after a lot of pressure

United almost got a goal, Blomqvist steering a deep cross

from Giggsy just over the bar. You dropped your cheese roll,

urging them not to waste time. I might almost have thought

it was over and we were lost to the world then but crucially

we saved it. When Teddy whacked that equaliser into the net

then Solskjaer won it, a game of two corners essentially

the whole bar up in the air, Darren and you kissing each other

the pile of chairs and pints going over, takin' over, Barcelona.

Martin Newell

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