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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, January 25, 2004
    Dear dear Dixie Dean
    I'd promised myself I'd compose a poem today. Reason being, Jan sent me a poem of hers the other day, a recent one about the bell of Iona Parish Church, "uncompromising in its demand / that the people come - / with no promise of comfort or beauty". And invited me to send her one in exchange, as at the moment there's a small group of Iona residents writing and reading aloud to each other, a creative interaction in these cold times.

    So it ought to have been a thoughtful thing, something which would sing between those ancient Abbey walls where the blackbirds join the sharing of the bread and Columba and MacLeod seem still present. When it came to it, however, it turned into a footy poem. This is because:

    (a) Prior to today's FA Cup tie, I met for an hour outside Goodison with Greenbelt poet-performer, Slade fan and Evertonian extraordinaire Paul Cookson; and

    (b) because he told me the story of Goodison legend Dixie Dean, who was once the victim of such a brutal foul during a game that he lost a testicle. I'm afraid I have to report that that is the enduring image of my day...

    So, in the style of Cookson, here goes:

    Dear dear Dixie Dean
    King of the thirties soccer scene
    All-time goalscorer supreme:
    Boy that must have made you scream.

    Lauded in Goodison's sacred halls
    Your pictures are on all its walls
    Your footwork meant you took some falls
    We also know it took some balls

    They say you had a plate in your head
    From a bike accident you might have been dead
    Still loads of your goals were headers they said
    We're glad you wore blue and never red

    Fearless Dixie through every debacle
    You wouldn't let defenders raise a hackle
    You never would pull out of a tackle
    Despite the effect it could have on your tackle

    Dixie's records stretch footy knowledge
    Blues' bets on him they'd never hedge
    To honour him I'll eat, I pledge
    A fitting meal - meat and one veg.