League Ladders

I got so excited about my league Ladder
Which came free with Shoot every season.
Just a bit of cardboard with twenty two slots
For the twenty two teams
Of the mighty first division.
Oh how much fun it was going to be
Watching Chelsea move up the league
Week by week, until hopefully, in May, they would be top.
I knew it would happen. Of course it would.
When the first league table was printed in the paper,
(Usually after three games or so)
Chelsea were often around fourteenth.
But that didn’t matter …
There were lots of games to go
And, by May, they would be top. Of course they would.
September came and went, then October.
Then I got a bit bored waiting for Chelsea to be near the top,
And more than a bit cross about Leeds being there instead.
So I thought it wouldn’t matter if I swapped them around.
As the season wore on, I’d get madder and madder.
Leeds stayed bottom in my alternative table.
Chelsea were top. Except of course, they weren’t really.
I wish they still made League Ladders
And all fans could have their own alternative Premiership!

© Carol Ann Wood
May 2007


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He Doesn’t Go

Look love, you don’t seem to get it!
I know you mean no harm but why should I forget it?
Cos when I say he doesn’t go, he doesn’t go. Okay?
No way.
He won’t go just to ‘keep me company.’
And no, he doesn’t mind
And he lets me out on my own,
Far away from the female zone.
And yes, isn’t he kind!
He doesn’t go because he doesn’t like the game.
So no dear, no, men are not ‘all the same.’
And no you tosspot geezer, he is not gay.
But even if he was, so what.
Stick your homophobic neanderthal tendencies away
Where the sun don’t shine.
Cos if you can’t understand – fine!
Why would I drag him along
To make things right for you
Which you seem to think are wrong?
No, he doesn’t go, not ever.
Cos he won’t suddenly wake up one day and go “OOOOOH!”
And ask to come to football too.
Is that okay with you dear, or don’t you think he’s being a man?
After all in your world – as you tell me often –
It’s the male who is the football fan.
And did I ever tell you that you must be a time traveller
Living in the wrong year?
As this is twenty sixteen, love,
Not nineteenth century, dear!!

© Carol Ann Wood
Written March 2010, updated June 2016


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For Matthew

Matthew wore his shirt with pride,
He loved his Chelsea deep inside.
A love that lasted down the years,
A million waves, a million cheers.

We’ll miss you, Matthew.

Matthew’s smile lit up the ground,
And spread to everyone around.
For all he gave our precious team,
His love, his faith, he built a dream.

We thank you, Matthew.

For those of us he never met,
He touched our lives, we won’t forget.
His dream lives on in every fan,
He really was a special man.

We’re cheering, Matthew.

And when we’re sitting in his stand,
We’ll follow everything he planned.
We’ll keep his blue flag flying high.
For Matthew’s love will never die.

We miss you, Matthew.

© Carol Ann Wood 1996


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Big Man

Roll up, big man roll up, come and have a go.
A woman in a Chelsea shirt, silly cow what does she know!
Bet she’s not a proper fan, bet she’s only been
A follower for a year or two, plastic know what I mean?
Roll up big men, gather round and talk tactics above my head.
Pretend that I’m not in the room, ignore what I just said.
But ignore me at your peril boys, I won’t just go away.
And I was there in Munich in that stadium in May.
And I was there when we were shit so you can’t pin that on me.
I’ve seen more than you and your armchair crew as you watch it in 3D.
So have a go if you really must but get your facts straight first.
I’m here right now to see the best, but I’ve also seen the worst.
So now I’ll have my moment and enjoy it while I can.
I’ll still be there if we’re crap once more.
Will you be there, big man?

© Carol Ann Wood
May 2012


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Rare Find

I’ve never seen a pig that flies,
Nor spied a moon that’s blue.
But I have seen a rarity,
I swear it’s really true.
The other day I met a man
Who thus inspired this ditty.
He told me he supports Man U
And lives in that same city!

© Carol AnnWood
May 2009


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My Poetry, My Football Club

Feeling dejected after my team’s latest defeat on Saturday, as soon as I got home, I wrote a poem. Those people who know me, will recognise that this is not unusual. I’ve been writing poetry since I was five. I’ve been a performance poet throughout my adult life, and have had poetry published. Nor is football poetry is some bandwagon I’ve jumped on. In the 1970s I sent Chelsea FC a (handwritten) book of 42 poems dedicated to our players. But that was way before the internet, so the only ‘shares’, ’likes’ and ‘favourites’ were from my parents – and Chairman Brian Mears. Looking back, I doubt if the players ever read my poems, but I was thrilled to get a reply from the club, thanking me for my efforts.

On Sunday, I uploaded my latest poem, on the topic of the modern irritant – plastic fans – to Twitter and to Facebook. It’s not the first one I’ve penned on this theme, but I haven’t always shared them widely. This time, I thought it was a decent enough effort to risk provoking the trolls, as I regularly submit well-received work to the Football Poets website. My words seemed to resonate with many supporters, and not just supporters of Chelsea. True supporters of premiership clubs share the same contempt for the ‘plastics’. Alongside the numerous shares, re-tweets and positive comments on my verse, there was the inevitable rumble of discontent from certain males. What, a woman, coming into ‘our’ territory, thinking she can write? It’s akin to the chants that (yes, still) echo round grounds on a match day whenever they see a female official: ‘Get back in the kitchen.’ (Oh, except to Eva Carneiro, Chelsea’s former first-team doctor. Eva had to endure other suggestions. I won’t elaborate.)

The attitudes of some males to my writing is, regrettably, nothing unusual. These days, there should be no need for the Everyday Sexism project, but there still is, because even in 2015, sexism – overt and covert – is still rife. This is why, not too long ago, I wrote several pieces for a now-defunct football fanzine under a male by-line. I set up an e-mail address, with a male pseudonym, for the purpose of submitting my work, and watched with amusement as ‘top geezers’ read my light-hearted piss-take in the pubs, unaware that the author was not one of their ‘own kind’, but the forty-something woman wearing a pink Chelsea Megastore scarf trying to elbow her way past their beer-bellies to the bar. Thankfully, I can now openly submit pieces to the excellently-run infamous CFCUK fanzine under my own name. It’s progress!

For many years, there have been female football reporters, pundits and TV presenters, and plenty of women attend games as supporters, so I am nothing unusual. However, I can feel isolated. What sets me apart is that I exist outside of any boxes that people care to create, and it both perplexes and annoys certain supporters. My husband isn’t a football supporter, so I usually travel to matches alone, and I don’t fit any of your ‘footy-woman’ stereotypes.

No, I’m not a 1990s-style Ladette. Loud, bolshy, lager-swigging, one of the boys. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I do sing – loudly – and always have done. I’m a proper die-hard. I am often bolshy. Ask my Mr Non-Footy, or indeed, any Gooner who spies a lone Chelsea woman at King’s Cross and thinks it fun to mouth-off. But I prefer real ale to lager – and mostly, these days, two pints is my limit. I don’t wear trainers, and often don skirts rather than jeans. Sorry, and all that, but each to their own. Neither am I the woman-who-sometimes-goes-with-her-man. The woman who joins in all the match day jollies but, the rest of the week, doesn’t live and breathe football. She might feel a bit annoyed when her bloke’s team loses, but mostly it’s ‘just a game’ to her. Nope, not me. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I don’t fret about whether I’ve forgotten to put the dishwasher on. I think about who will start the next match. If I can’t get off to sleep again, I count Chelsea managers. The last decade’s-worth usually does the trick.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised that my ideas are still received with scorn by certain elements amongst my club’s male supporters. Here’s an example of how this works in a match day crowd. Last season, we were top of the league by a good few points until a festive slump culminated in a defeat on New Year’s Day at Tottenham away. Our lead was reduced to merely alphabetical. A chant, which had been going all season, involving much clapping, went something like: ‘We’re top of the league’ (repeated). Not one of our finest for wit, perhaps, but effective for making a noisy point to home fans. When the fact of our alphabetical ‘advantage’ became apparent, and our fans were still resolutely singing the chant, I thought of adding ‘We’re top of the league, we’re top of the league, alphabetically.’ Look, when you’re losing at Tottenham away, you get desperate. I took up the chant, loudly, and everyone around ignored it, so I shut up. Then, five minutes later, a bloke two rows back started singing it, and then, wow, everyone around him joined in and laughed at ‘his’ wit. Cos, well, he’s a funny bloke, right? See what I mean?

I’m not going to let the fact of a few sneering men stop me from doing what I do. I’m not going to go back into any place that they think I should be, because only I get to decide where that place is. If I want to share my football poetry on social media, I will, regardless of response. For every one person who sneers, I have two or more – men and women – who treat me as a fellow supporter, someone with similar views to their own about our beloved club. I’m not going to fit into anyone else’s neat boxes, because I prefer to be true to myself, even if that presents me with challenges along the way.

Furthermore, I am perfectly entitled to write about the club I have ardently followed for forty-five years. However I choose. My opinions and emotions will overlap with those of other true supporters. How I express myself is my prerogative. If people ‘like’ my work, and it puts someone else’s (male) nose out of joint, tough. Anyone who wants to share their perceived genius on social media is free to do so. I don’t claim to be a genius, or better than others. There are some fantastic Chelsea bloggers around, male and female. Whenever I read a good piece, I comment on how much I’ve enjoyed it. And, as with all good writing, football and otherwise, it inspires me to publish pieces with my own distinctive take on the subject. That was why I took my master’s degree in creative writing.

I’m not going away. Learn to live with it unreconstructed man, because writing about football is as much my entitlement as it is yours.

© Carol Ann Wood
November 2015


Index of Posts:


Links:
My bespoke poetry service, Diverse Verse
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Only in Erinsborough Carol Ann’s fun look at the lives and loves of the characters from the Australian soapNeighbours


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