My grandad supported Ipswich Town FC.
He said he’d been to every game at home
since his teen years in the Nineteen-Thirties.
That was his escape from grief:
his wife, my gran, had died
from meningitis while the German planes
were flattening the Ipswich docks for Hitler.
She was only twenty-seven,
and in those days meningitis killed.
His love for football was how he didn’t join her.
The Tractor Boys were my grandad’s poets,
his rock stars, the actors whose careers he followed.
They made spirit light in bones and flesh
left heavy by the long, hard hours
in the factory at Ransome’s.
A ball struck high and curling past the keeper
had him gaily dancing on his mangled leg
on the terraces at Portman Road each game.
He took me to the ground one day.
It was like a mantle being passed.
‘I was your age when I first stood here,’
he told me, one hand on my shoulder.
As we left, a player that my Grandad knew
from the Fifties in a rumpled suit
called him Fred and shook his hand.
About the Author: Bruce Hodder lives in Northampton, England. He is the editor of the Suffolk Punch Literary Journal, now in its thirteenth year. Recently he has been published in Academy of Heart and Mind, Winedrunk Sidewalk and The Song Is.
Image Credit: “AZ vs Ipswich, 1981” Public Domain Nationaal Archief Fotocollectie Anefo