May 20, 2014
Michael O’Leary recently contributed his drawing of Northern Irish footballer George Best (above) and a poem on the 1967 Manchester United visit to New Zealand to a special football issue of broadsheet: new new zealand poetry.
The issue edited by fellow poet/publisher Mark Pirie comprises a selection of football poetry from 1890-2014, focusing mainly on New Zealand football by New Zealand poets.
Others who’ve contributed include Gary Langford, Harry Ricketts, James Brown, John Gallas, John Dickson, Bill O’Reilly, Grant Sullivan, Harvey Molloy, Tim Jones, Dylan Groom and Pirie himself. Former New Zealand All White Michael Groom has written the foreword.
The Night Press, Wellington, has published the special issue to coincide with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It will be available from May online as a free download pdf as well as in a limited print edition. Website: http://broadsheetnz.wordpress.com
Here is Michael’s poem:
MANCHESTER UNITED VS AUCKLAND 1967
In 1967 the football club Manchester United played a game
Against an Auckland Eleven they were expected to tame
And although they did in the end win eight goals to one
Seeing ‘The Beatles’ of the football world was great fun
For as a teenager I had always preferred the round ball code
Rather than the rugger that ‘everybody else’ in New Zealand chose
And watching the ‘Beautiful Game’ in that ‘Summer of Love’
Brought music and sport together as if to finally prove
That a show in front of more than 26,000 at Carlaw Park
Watching Soccer could be like a rock concert where the spark
Of enthusiasm is ignited by an ultimate, primal, human desire
To belong, as in olden days when people gathered around a fire
Thus, the world’s most famous and celebrated sport was seen
In Auckland at a time of love and music and the world of dream
DB NZ Soccer Annual 1975: ‘Manchester United came to New Zealand, hammered both its opponents [Auckland 8-1 and NZ 11-0] and introduced soccer supremo George Best to the country. That United team had all the stars: Best, Charlton, Law, Stiles, Stepney, Aston, Foulkes, Crerand, Kidd … the list seemed endless.’ Charlie Dempsey was the director of tours for the NZFA and the AFA.