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A boy sat in the back of a transit van, travelling to the theatre of dreams.

A strange journey, chatting to a man, who on reflection was probably an alcoholic. No windows or seatbelts, this was the official supporters bus. How did he get this past his parents.

The van clattered down the motorway barely reaching 50, feeling like Mach 10 on the dingy back bench. Sardines in a motorised tin, powered by methylated spirits.

He looked at his friend, and he just grinned, the excitement palpable. They’d bunked off school, grabbed some cans from the off licence, caught the number 12 bus into the city. They sipped their beer and it tasted of freedom.

In a daze deposited on a pavement they walked briskly to the stadium. The sounds, the smells, the singing ringing in their ears.

Clutching tickets as if they were bullion they navigated the turnstiles. Young lambs pulled towards the field of green.

And at last the whistle.

Time stood still and there he was, looking more impressive in person. Beautiful in no way he could have conceived of beauty existing.

Pure grace, poetry in motion, faster than a greyhound he could tame the ball in an instant.

His Dad said he reminded him of Best, he’d seen him in the flesh. 68 still seared in his memory, a passion passed on from father to son, born from the ashes of Munich.

With a flash of his flowing black locks he dashed down the wing, a jink and a cross to the head of the baby faced assassin, and in.

Goal, goal, goal. The floodlights crowning the players with a halo of perfection. The pilgrimage rewarded with a win but the journey was more than enough for the true adventure to begin.

To my Dad, Matt and Ryan.

Copyright John de Gruyther 2017

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