Thursday, August 30, 2012

Berba on the Bench: A Love Story

(With Apologies to Ernest Thayer)
The Outlook wasn't brilliant for the Champions that day:
The score stood two to three, with just minutes left to play.
And then when Giggsy missed a shot, and Scholesy did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the many patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Berbatov could get upon the pitch -
We'd put up even money, now, with Berba we'd be rich.
But Welbz preceded Berbatov, as did Chico, too,
And the former was a homeboy and the latter quick-a-roo;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Berba's getting off the mat.
But Roo let fly a tackle, to the wonderment of all,
In doing so, the talisman turned ankle over ball;
And when the dust had lifted, the crowd became all warm,
For the linesman was a-whistling, and a-raising his own arm.
Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It disappointed many, as Macheda was revealed,
And Berba, artful Berba, was nowhere near the field.
There was languid ease in Dimi's manner as he sat upon the bench;
There was pride in Dimi's bearing, though Dimi's teeth did clench.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly coiffed his hair,
No one could deny that Berba Love was in the air.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he fiddled with his phone;
Five thousand tongues applauded him as from the bench his aura shone.
Then as the crowd watched him rub his his hands into his hip,
Longing gleamed in Berba's eye, but placid was his lip.
And while the leather-covered sphere kept hurtling through the air,
Berba sat a-watching it in languid splendor there.
Close by the United bench the ball unheeded sped-
"Put me in Coach, please," said Berba. "Not now," the Gaffer said.


From the benches, Red with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Play him, Fergie!" shouted someone from the stand;
And its likely they'd 'a loved it had not Berba raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity our Dimi's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the Referee, and once more the spheroid flew;
And Berba sat and pleaded, while the Gaffer said, "Can't do."

"Berba!" cried the maddened thousands, and his name they did applaud;
But one scornful look from Fergie and the audience was awed.
They saw Dimi's face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
As they knew our Berba would ne'er get on the pitch again.

The smile is gone from Berba's lip, his jaw is firmly set;
He sits with cruel knowledge he will never see the net.
And now the linesman holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the crowd is shattered by the force of Fergie's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there's no joy in Old Trafford - the artful Berba's been left out.

This is farlieonfootie for August 30.

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