Out of the Henrys who have ruled England, Henry II would have been of more interest to Stéphane Sessegnon, assuming our Sess shares Lorik Cana’s hunger for cultural and historical knowledge – Henry was born in Le Mans, Sess played there. But for John McCormick‘s lurch into English Lit territory as his prelude to the Wear-Tyne derby, Henry V’s your man. Here’s hoping for no Shakespearean tragedy cometh Sunday …
Once more onto the pitch, dear team, once more;
And close the midfield with a wall of red.
Off-season nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the fixture list is in the news,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let Sessegnon run at the Magpie team
with Adam Johnson, let Fletcher o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth young McClean
O’erhang and jutty their confounded backs,
Swill’d with the dead ball skill of Larssen.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, with noblest Mackems.
Whose blood is fet from pitmen!
Pitmen aye, as well as shipwrights who,
Have in these parts from morn till even stood
And shouted for their team on many Derbies:
Dishonour not their mothers; now attest
That those you call fanatics do beseech you.
Be skilful now to men of black and white,
And show them how to play. And you, good fullbacks,
Whose limbs are made of iron, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your contract; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Sun’lan’, Martin, and the lads!’