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Charlton Athletic FC


The Charlton Athletic Football Club poems were commissioned to be read between acts of an on the floor play, ‘Bartram Saves the Day, produced and performed by the Sub Rosa Theatre Company, in celebration of the football club’s centenary in 2005.

The story by Peter Daniel of the City of Westminster Archives was adapted from Individual WW2 reminiscence’s and related through one family, living in SE London, to tell children about conscription, evacuation, the overall effects of war. I was given a draft script with a view to writing brief poems to fill the short time between acts. The poems were designed to reflect the previous act or to be an introduction to the coming act.

Later the club in conjunction with Greenwich Council sponsored the publication of a book of the same name; for private distribution including local schools.

I was also invited to provide illustrations for the book - Nothing too complicated, quite light to contrast with the seriousness of the editorial. This was good until I discovered that I was to illustrate my poems. As they are two different art forms, this required some thought of how the drawings were to serve their own purpose and complement the poems, shown below.










Jim and Betty Thompkins

Bet was tall and she was ‘ansome,
Sort of tough ‘n sort a neat,
With lips as red as cherries.
Jim ‘n ‘er settled down Woolwich way
An’ ‘e werked on the ferries









Ferryman, ferry me over the Thames.
Ferryman, ferry me back again.

Ferryman carries our solders to France
Returning with anyone? There’s little        chance.

Ferryman’s off to attack the Atlantic
Ferrying his dreams of Charlton Athletic.







Pockets full of sweeties, pockets full of gum
Nylons for the ladies, chocolates for their mums.

Perfume for the ladies, soap for their mums
Dancing with the ladies, dancing here is fun.

Hollywood is coming, Hollywood is near
Jimmy Stewart – cowboy, flying over here.

Jimmy Stewart hero, Jimmy is divine
Pocks full of sweeties, Jimmy Stewart’s mine.





Cotton Dress

Bombs have blown our house away
We’ll look for somewhere else to stay,
On my meager arsenal pay.
Oh, this is the saddest- saddest day.

The dress you bought me
Is flying like flag.
My cotton dress, with flowers on
Is like a flapping rag.

It flutters in the autumn wind
In the Elm tree, up the road,
Reminding us, what could have been.
Our lives are now a heavy load.

The only other dress I own
Hangs above my knees.
I’ll take that dress, all alone,
From the gallows of the tree.

I only wore it twice;
In summer, on special days.
You said I looked, “Very nice.”
Oh, what is to become of us … I pray.





Pat’s Song - After the V2s

I wake at four to the song of birds
Then wash the cows for England.
I milk them till they yield no more,
Then polish steel equipment.

I heave the muck till five o’ clock
Then put the calves to rest.
Come eight o’clock, I sleep myself
And dream of lovely London.









Charlton Centenary Poem. 2005

Looking down across the Valley
Images of teams in red.
Men who played for Charlton,
Some are living others dead.

Inhaling player’s embrocation
Rolled tobacco, beery breaths,
The smell of brand new programmes.
Bankruptcy – impending death.

Tales of manager–directors. Of players
Who saved and scored, and passed the ball around.
The inspiration of the Valley Party.
Those who rallied and saved the ground.

How relegation does not matter (“We’ll be back.”).
How inside it really does.
How promotion gives jubilation
Excites, delights to the skies above.

Gasping breaths at near misses,
Thud of boots and head, when balls
Hit post or bar. The spontaneity of
‘Handball’! or an ‘Offside’! call.

The roar of baritones and bases
Expanding sideways and above.
The standing salutation “Goal”!
Expressed with unreserved, unembarrassed love.

Looking now across the Valley
We rise with pride, our heads
Held high. A family club, encased in stands.
One hundred years of Charlton red.



















We’ll aid the peace at Woolwich Ars-en-al
We’ll blow them all to bits.
When Jimmy Stewart’s in the films,
We’ll go down the flicks.









Snodland home of dust and grime
Paper mills, cement and lime.
In the village slipper bathhouse
We wash to detox from our house.

Snodland has its fields and rivers
Polluted by its industrial givers,
Even gas masks here are no use.
No place for a boy to bear abuse.

Cows and sheep may be grazing
Hops and barley? Quite amazing.
“Peace in our time,” oh, no son.
Please, oh please mum!
Take me back to Charlton.



Air Raid Shelter Poem

Pamela not as peaceful as you seem
Doreen you are my every dream.
Daisy with your eyes so hazy
Rose you pose but are so lazy
Mavis, matriculation is your aim.
Violet, violet what’s your game?
Joan you never could stay at home
Kathleen your acts I never could condone.
But Beryl, you’re the belter
I want to kiss in our air raid shelter.









Doodlebug, Doodlebug, where are you going?
Doodlebug, Doodlebug, we don’t want you here.
Turn around Doodlebug, up Doodlebug Alley.

Fly away Doodlebug, fly back to your home
Don’t go to our house, our mum’s all alone.
Come back Doodlebug. Rebuild our home!










WEMBLEY. 1998.


Sasa Ilic Saves

Sasa Ilic saves-
And is buried in mound of red and black tops – beige suits.
We’re up and dancing, hugging each other.

Sasa Ilic saves-
Wiping away years in the wilderness,
Ground sharing at Selhurst and Upton Park.
Curbs is on the pitch,
Players shaking hands – waving at the crowd.
“Going up, going up, going up
  “Going up, going up
   “ GO-ing UP.”

Sasa Ilic saves
Wiping away jokes of being a Charlton fan:
“And I’m the other one.”…
Flanagan and Allen (Hales).
Fireworks explode, showering silver shale.
Freddie Mercury: Full Volume –
We’re a flag waving banner shaking mass of red-
  “Su-per, Super Clive
     Super Clive Mendonca.”

Sasa Ilic saves-
Giving value to those who formed the Valley Party.
Kinsella raises the trophy. Reds, blacks and suits
Leap, dance, run and throw themselves
Around the pitch.

Sasa Iliic saves –
Red and white stripes converge
Like accelerated toothpaste
Down the exits.



























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