Juanico’s Legacy

Travelling uphill through Portuguese suburbs.
Wearing short sleeves in February –
absolute bliss. Nuggets known as
‘sad football facts’ are found
in the chasms of Wikipedia entries.

Feeling like undercover agents
as we slip through gaps in gates
to bathe in the blue of Lisbon’s Holy Trinity.
Jesus has the best view of all, standing
tall above the expansive Tagus.
He can see the National Stadium
where Juanico was famous for a year,
thanks to his winning goal against
local neighbours Benfica –
the last silver cup for the
makers of crusty egg pastries.

But we didn’t know any of that yet.
Fourteen months later with Iberia
under lock and key, history and
the pseudonym of Benjamin Franklin
find me. Frank Jones: fifty-six years married
and the king of Richmond’s Spiders,
claimed his own last triumph in 1971
when a lighthouse off the coast of
Alabama no longer shone.

All their marks still remain, however, in the
names of five children, foundations
and fans repeating their love for a team in rebirth.
Even in the brain – and now words – of a man
stuck in rural England. Unearthed by chance
but recognised nonetheless.

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