15 Jan



 An impassioned, disembodied voice screams from stadium installed speakers, “There’s only the goalie to beat. He’s passed the midfielders, out maneuvered the last defender – charging like a bull towards the ten yard line.”

The goalie, anticipating the rush of danger, moves out of the goal mouth – the last line of defense in a team with more holes than a dolphin-safe fishing net. With steely-eyed determination he sallies forth, the spark of self-delusion shining brightly – vain chest-pumped hope, of a last minute away-day victory.

The striker’s world is filled with the shapeshifting hues of blues and whites – gloved hands as big as salvers. The last chance before the whistle blows, the difference between shoulder-carried glory and crowd-jeering defeat.

In the stands the corrugated metal roofing creaks and groans in the midday sun. Shafts of light pool down on the spectators below, striking the gathered legions through burst rivets and rusted seams. A sea of blood red and bruised blue awash with September sunshine.

The home derby; a day begun with good intent that will inevitably end in blood, tears, and incarceration down at the local nick. Despite the pretense of sportsmanship and sleeve-worn camaraderie at the biannual confrontation between local rivals, the outcome is always the same. The hate generated by twenty-two miles of separation simmers and stews until match day boils it over. No quarter is expected, and none willl be given.

The speakers trumpet their litany of commentated mayhem. “He only has the goal keeper to beat. Can anybody stop this man?”

With slow motion machinations the keeper plods his way through mud and sod – his arms spread wide, blocking the  field of view, narrowing the angle of shot. This is the only moment that will count, the only moment remembered. Everything else forgotten and for nothing should the striker achieve his aim. He can’t let it happen; defeat at the hands of their fiercest rivals is not an option.  With one last supreme effort – with seconds ticking on the clock, he digs in his studs and rushes forward.

The red scarves, having  scaled the barrier fence, fight their way forward through closed blue ranks. Fights have already broken out and the roof-raising chants are now drowned by the shouts of men committed to battle. Bottles smash as spit-soaked Bobbies react to whistles and departmental commands. A thin line of monochromatic authority adrift in an ocean of color, attempting to separate warring hoards and prospective warriors. Half-filled plastic cups and empty bottles take Agincourt flight, the debris darkening and descending from sun-striped skies.

As he draws back his foot in readiness to bury the ball in the netting of his opponent’s goal, the keeper spreads across his horizon. The striker senses his moment. Ninety minutes of pure adrenalin encapsulated in one final shot.  Heart thumps, lungs rasp, and muscles tense. Power surges through sinew as he spears the ball towards the goal.

Already the coppers are in trouble. Helmets are on the ground and personal revenge is exacted by an anonymous crowd. Men stand toe to toe, murderous intent on their faces, as they rain blow after blow in a vicious exchange of boots and fists.

“Take that you twat, fuck off back to we’re you came from you West Yorkshire prick!”

Combatants clash in a sea of arms and legs – a river of blood and tissue – a cacophony of shouts and screams. Trapped between the chairs, a man goes down in a flurry of limbs and curses. Another leaps headlong into the crowd from one of the steel stanchions. Pain and mayhem reign in what will be recorded in tomorrow’s papers as the worst home derby for years.

The boot strikes the ball and the black and white projectile sails through the air. Water and grass crease from its surface, the impact of leather against leather forcing it to sail and curve through the air. He feels it in his core – knows that this is the final shot of the match – prays that this one will count.

The goalie leaps into the air with legs like springs – powering himself away from the ground, defying gravity and reaching for the heavens. He can do it, he knows he can, his lightening run from the goal line bringing him into position.

The public address system goes quiet and for a brief second, antagonists hold punches in midair as they watch the drama unfold on the field below. Men forget to hate – blood runs freely down police uniforms, and the crowd holds it breath.


The Tannoy screams back to life.

The goalkeeper thumps hard onto wet grass, knowing that he has failed, the scream of the crowd telling him what he already suspected. He had felt the ball brush his fingertips, hoped that his efforts had been enough.

The striker – his eyes wide, mouth open – turns on one foot. The cheer already rising in his throat,  rips off his shirt and heads for his moment of glory on the sideline. Three-Two with nothing left to play for. The referee’s whistle clarions time across the field – players embrace whilst others drop their shoulders and stare at the ball in the back of the net.

In the stands, cheers die on the lips of rough men intent on doing  grievous bodily harm; combat now justified by the finality of a loss at home. They may have lost the match, but the battle on the terraces is still theirs for the winning.


  1. robyn January 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    Absolutely beautiful!

    I was right there in the crowd, holding my breath and beer, frozen in time along with everyone else…just waiting to kick some ass!

    I’m very proud of you.


  2. Steve Green January 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Very well written in scenery and battle. Extremely good portrayal of the brutal reality of many a football fan’s Saturday, from the days of the skinheads, through to modern times.

  3. Raven Corinn Carluk January 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Great pacing. Fantastically done.

  4. flyingscribbler January 28, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    Colin, i’m no football fan, but you took me to the terraces and showed me the gritty emotion of it all both on and off the pitch. Considering I have never been to a match, I feel that I might have now. Great writing. Esp liked the Agincourt reference.


  1. Tweets that mention TERRACE-ORISM-FLASHFICTION « I-10 Blog -- Topsy.com - January 21, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Olivia Tejeda, Raven Corinn Carluk. Raven Corinn Carluk said: RT @crjames55 An arse-kicking read – war on the terraces. FlashFiction from the FlashBastard http://bit.ly/eqUYwl #fridayflash […]

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