The Rime Of The Ancient Manager
( with apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge )
There was an ancient manager
And he stoppeth one of three
“By thy long grey beard and glittering eye
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?”
He holds them with his skinny hand
I had a team quoth he
“Push off you old deluded loon”
Let us pass and set us free
The changing room doors are open wide
My place was there he sighs
The pitch was lined, the nets were up
I was ready for the prize
The supporter sat upon a stone
He cannot choose but hear
Thus spoke that very ancient man
Of all things he held dear
I had the very best of them
The soundest in the league
I triumphed every season long
I knew not failure nor fatigue
“The season came to end at last
The final game that year
The zenith of the season long
Our supporters came to cheer.
We won the league, we beat the lot
We had no foe to fear
The cup final our last prize to win
The objective plain and clear.
The sky was blue, the grass was green
Around us spring was breaking
We had no qualms about the game
It was ours, ready for the taking.
We started well in all respects
We scored an early goal
But then we felt we had it won
And the season took its toll.
Our full back was a stupid lad
He liked to sneer and scoff
He tried it on the referee
Who sent the poor lad off.
The supporter stood as if to leave
“No! Hear my tale I beg
Our striker missed an open goal
Then fell and broke his leg.
I had no choice, I had to act
And bring the substitute on
He attacked his opponent with his fists
So now he too was gone.
I could not then believe my eyes
I knew misery and despair
When our midfielder in a petty rage
Kicked his marker in the air
Now we were eight and sad to say
We could not save our plight
We lost our shape and so our dream
Of silver died that night
The manager, whose eye is bright
The lost prize still to yearn
Is gone now and the supporter
Rose, and set off in his turn
He went like one that hath been stunned
To hear the sorrow borne
A sadder and a wiser man
He rose the morrow morn.