About Rob Casey
Rob Casey is the Bard of ECFC, the club’s poet in residence. As a stand-up poet, writer and performer he can often be seen and heard delivering verse across the city and throughout the South West, including as host of Apples and Snakes’ spoken word shows at The Bike Shed Theatre.
As the publicly appointed ‘Bard of Exeter’ in 2016/17 he was commissioned by the BBC to produce a poem for Devon on National Poetry Day. He has also featured on a football podcast, as part of the band ‘The Least Worst Candidates’, and currently writes for the political website TheAlteringEye.com. He drinks tea and lectures in Creative and Professional Writing at Exeter College.
England, Champions of the World
Okay, kids. Pull up a chair and come and sit with your grandfather
by this hologram of a roaring fire.
I went to tell you the story
of how England became Champions of the World…
It was 2018, before Brexit and the Civil War,
when Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg was nothing more
than a humble backbencher,
and the debut grime album of MC Jeremy Corbyn
was not only unreleased, it had yet to be recorded.
Qualification had been easy but uninspiring.
The squad were young and expectations low.
None of us thought back then
Gareth Southgate would achieve such God-like status,
Joe Hart would find his greatest form,
our back four would prove harder to penetrate
than the end of a roll of Sellotape,
or we’d have a midfield more creative
than Picasso with some play dough.
We knew Harry Kane may beat Klose or Fontaine;
we just didn’t know he’d pass both in our first game.
It all came together like a dream.
And yet it really happened, kids.
You know I’d never lie to you.
It was the perfect afternoon.
The best I’ve ever been
playing FIFA 18.
So much better than watching the real England
crashing out in Russia.
We don’t talk about that.
The Last to be Picked
I bet I’m the last to be picked.
I’m always the last to be picked.
If only they passed, I might not be last,
but…wait for it…yep, there it is.
“And you can have him,” they inflict.
The words that we all could predict.
The dregs in the cup. Why bother turn up?
Again, I’m the last to be picked.
Will this time be different? We’ll see.
The last to be picked; is it me?
A new kid arrives. He’s blind in one eye and only has one of his feet.
He’s also forgotten his kit, but that doesn’t matter a bit.
The captain’s his friend, so I’m at the end.
Again, I’m the last to be picked.
Now surely, they won’t pick me last,
as finally somebody passed.
I scored on the volley. I bet they were sorry
to rule me out ever so fast.
I showed that I won’t be outclassed.
My goalscoring skills are so vast.
It’s time for the picking, for twisting or sticking.
They stick. And again, I’m picked last.
I’m not giving up quite so easy.
I may be too slow and too wheezy,
too useless, too clumsy - a sloth could outrun me -
and exercise makes me feel queasy.
But just once is all that I ask,
when being the worst is surpassed.
My moment of glory. A different story.
Get in! Yes! Picked SECOND from last.
THE FOLLOWING POEM HAS BEEN APPROVED FOR ALL AUDIENCES BY THE FOOTBALL-GOERS ASSOCIATION OF
Ladies and gentlemen,
The pitch is now our picturehouse;
the ground, the crowd -
our sight and sound.
The set has been dressed,
the red carpet laid.
So please take your seats.
Our show will be played.
A live-action drama -
no script has been written.
So who’ll be the hero
and who’ll be the villain?
And where will the twists
and the turns be revealed?
And when will our characters’
fates then be sealed?
Let’s turn on the spotlights
and draw back the curtains,
for now is the time
when there’s nothing that’s certain.
It’s time to get ready
for THE main attraction.
It’s showtime: the floodlights,
the cameras, the action.
If – Tis
If you can keep your job when all but Wenger
Are losing theirs, except for him and you;
If you can trust yourself despite fans’ tempers,
But make allowance for their tempers too;
If you can win some, lose some and draw many,
Go up, come down, but mostly stay each year;
If you can wait until the time is ready
For recognition to then reappear;
If you can watch—and not just do that only;
If you can sub—and not make subs your aim;
If you can meet with Perryman and Oakley
And nod at their opinions just the same;
If you can build a squad from home-grown youngsters,
As well as loanees and those gained for free;
If you can get them gelling, without blunders,
And playing proper football with their feet;
If you can buck the trend of boring clothing,
And ditch the trackies and the low-key suit;
If you can still look stylish when you’re coaching,
With matching shirt and socks, designer boots;
If you can wear cravats and mask your baldness
With hats and caps that make you look the shizz;
If you can effortlessly be the coolest,
And everybody knows you just as ‘Tis’;
If you can trust in values and an ethos
To work and play the way you know is right,
And never shun from looking like a peacock,
Albeit one who still looks great in white;
If you can fill the ninety-something minutes
Without the need to masticate on gum,
Yours is the league and a promotion with it,
But first – you’ll be Manager of the Month.
Top of the League
We’re top of the league, right where we should be.
Right there you will see, we’re top of the league!
We’re top of the league. It’s time to believe.
Just try to perceive, we’re top of the league!
We’re top of the league. That’s worth a repeat:
We’re top of the league! We’re top of the league!
I’m not gonna cease. The feeling’s unique.
Not gonna decrease. We’re top of the league!
The top of the league. We weren’t here last week.
But this week’s on fleek. We’re top of the league!
We’ve climbed to the peak – the top of the league.
A bit of a sneak to take a good peek.
The place that we seek is top of the league,
so now hear me speak: we’re top of the league!
Oh yes, it feels sweet, with four games complete.
The first month’s achieved. Who’s top of the league?
Oh yes, silly me! We’re top of the league!
We’re top of the league? Yes, top of the league.
The top of the league? As top as can be.
How top can top be? It’s top of the league!
OK now, let’s see. It feels good indeed.
No-one can exceed the top of the league.
We’re top of the league! A claim to make strong,
because, honestly, it might not last long.
We’re shifting from our fluid 4-4-2 cum 4-3-3
to see how a more liquid 5-3-2 cum 3-5-2
cum 3-3-2-2 will do.
Though, it might end up more 2-3-1-2-2
cum 2-3-1-2-1-1 cum 2-2-2-1-2-1
once we’ve begun.
And then, if we’re down to ten men,
it’s 4-3-2 cum 2-5-2
or back to 3-4-2 cum 3-3-3,
though really 3-3-2-1 cum 3-5-1,
or 5-3-1 cum 4-4-1,
depending on the score.
Ideally, our flat back four
will switch to three plus two,
making room for two more inside,
or one before the five,
each tested and well tried.
Unless, we decide to mix it up,
have three banks of three
plus one, to make it Dutch,
then concertina up the field.
Or will that be too much?
Perhaps let’s keep it simple
and try ‘the scattergun’,
so whichever way you look at it
They say he’s got a dodgy knee
and knackered feet but, well, he’s free.
He’s English, old and kind of round.
The asking price: a million pounds.
He trained with Chelsea as a kid.
So that makes him two million quid.
He worked with Fergie for a day.
Five million pounds we’d have to pay.
His uncle’s been out to Brazil.
Ten million’s what they’re wanting still.
He once scored three games in a row.
His twenty million feels quite low.
It’s rumoured that his poo is gold.
For fifty million he’ll be sold.
His silverware? The Holy Grail.
One hundred million, he’s for sale.
He’s quite good looking, might sell kits.
Two hundred million surely fits.
And that’s the market. That’s the lot.
Or maybe stick with what we’ve got.
This year…is going to be our year.
This season’s the reason we’ve nothing to fear.
We’re gonna win the league, win all the cups,
win every game, lift trophies up.
We’re gonna do a Leicester but we’re gonna do it…bester,
‘cos this year…is going to be our year.
All we need’s a proper start,
a decent middle and better end.
And then, yes then,
we’ll have a side
to make the big boys run and hide.
If things come together
then we’re gonna be fine.
It might not click just straightaway,
but we’ll come good in time.
This year…is going to be our year.
or more likely next year, if we’re honest,
‘cos this’ll probably be more of a transitional year,
what with the ground and the squad and… b
ut next year, for sure,
it’ll be our year, as long as we don’t make a total pig’s ear
of this year.
Oh dear. What if we go down a tier?
well, who knows?
Let’s just see how it all goes.
When August Comes
Sod the sandcastles
and bringing half the beach back
in our cracks.
Catching crabs? No thanks.
Summer’s just a rest designed to prep us
for the real reason we pass our time.
It’s football season when August arrives.
Yes, when the weather’s fine, there’s still football;
we’ve got football on our minds.
The Test matches might tantalise,
while Wimbledon placates our cries,
but June is dull, and then July
just whets our growing appetite
for the beautiful game.
No, nothing else is quite the same
as when the gossip stops for play;
when August comes around again.
When Saturdays have a purpose;
there’s something to anticipate.
When August comes around again,
it’s finally been worth the wait.
We’re ready. So ready.
The football in our belly’s burning,
yearning for a run out with the sun out.
It’s more fun out when the league’s begun
than snorting pollen by the ton.
It’s all four seasons into one
and kicking off when August comes.
When joy returns to wipe the tears
and hope’s regained once it appears.
By far the most wonderful time of the year:
when August arrives and the football is here.