The Etihad

Strange how it is, the lack of atmosphere
not a rose-tinted patch on the Kippax.
You go in and take your seat and you feel
like your childhood is missing.
                                                      Where once
you had climbed the stairs and walked through
a picture frame of green to feel vibration,
buzz, singing, seething sound, under a vast
corrugated roof where the rain never touched
you, now you sat in your padded seat
the bloke from somewhere south of Watford
moaning about Toure for the whole game –
Toure the best midfielder since Bell –
and the rain blew in under the stand
and over you, and the away fans made most
noise every game, but even their songs
were like a memory of the atmosphere
when you were standing, when you loved
a victory, when it was cheaper to get in
and there was a blue turnstile and a cage
but most of all when there was tension
and there was edge.
                                    And although it still
means equally as much to many of you now
you don’t express it, and there isn’t the chanting
that coursed through you when you joined in
and that took you out of yourself, made you forget
your week, the same as every other week
and helped get life out of your system
showed you still had life in your system.

Neil Campbell is from Manchester. He has two collections of short stories, Broken Doll and Pictures From Hopper, published by Salt, and two poetry collections, Birds and Bugsworth Diary, published by The Knives Forks and Spoons Press, who have also published his short fiction chapbook, Ekphrasis. Recent stories have appeared in Unthology 6, The Stockholm Review of Literature and Best British Short Stories 2015. A collection of flash fiction, Fog Lane, is forthcoming from Gumbo Press, and his first novel, Sky Hooks, was published by Salt in 2016. His Twitter: @neilcambers.

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