Paterson uses irony when he describes Farquhar’s only success as a
setback in the club’s downward spiral. Farquhar then negates his triumph with an
own-goal in the replay. The expression
fifty-year slide together with the continuous list (lines 25-29) suggests the team’s steady, gradual decline. At each stage more of their fame and status are eroded, leaving and ending with
nobody. We are left with a sinister image of:
...grim fathers and perverts with Old English Sheepdogs / lining the touch, moaning softly.
The team’s loyal fans have been replaced by seedy old men hiding their ugly actions under sheepskin coats. The expression
moaning softly suggests a low, disturbing sound. This contrasts with the animated crowd portrayed at the beginning of the poem.
Despite the fact the team is moving forwards through time, their general direction is backwards. This runs against a more usual narrative of moving from nothing to success, from zero to hero.
Paterson moves from success to failure rather than the usual progression which would be from the small boy kicking the ball in the street, to the school boy games, to the Highland Division and beyond. In doing this he questions if we really do ‘progress’ in life and what result do we put in all the effort for?