Orgreave Ballad

Written as a poem by a supporter in 1984 describing what she saw at Orgreave

Memories of Orgreave

AnkieHoogvelt (Police Watch 1984)

I thought I was in Cherokee when first I heard those drums;

the battle cry was fearsome; it put me off my lunch!

Five thousand police werebanging batons on their shield;

they showed their mighty force, the sticks they planned to wield.

They prepared to advance with valour, right to the top of the hill.

It stiffened resolve and gave them guts; they loved their war like drill!

Stacked like proper soldiers, in lines some ten foot deep,

they faced in equal numberminers, both resolute and meek.

But the miners had no weapons. Nor could they pick up none.

They were in a grassy field, for Christ sake, and frolicking in fun.

Standing in a circle they would spit as hard they could,

and compare with exciting gestures the colour of their soot.

Curious, we came closer to see what the larking was about

and there a surprising, and wholesome, truth came out.

By the time of Orgreave the strike was four months on.

This meant that for the miners at least one victory was won.

Freed from the daily descent into those dusty pits

their lungs, once black, returned to white, as when smokers quit.

 

When the sun was at its highest, in that very clear blue sky,

suddenlya total silence fell; we looked and saw the reason why.

Some miners had rolled a tyre down, towards the massed black forces.

The police lines parted and through the gap jumped mounted horses.

They galloped up the track, twocolumns side by side.

There wasn’t room for any more, the path was not that wide.

The impact was electric; the miners scattered and some fell.

My friend and I, wescrambled up the bank, feeling none too well.

Safe behind their cavalry, the police then charged up hill;

atfirst in fine formation, the more military the thrill.

Next, they spread out in pairs, or groups of three,

and chased the fleeing miners with purpose, full of glee.

At the last they did what police do best;

therewere scuttles, and they made arrests.

Minor charges were enough to take some miners in,

like swearing as in ‘bloody’ which in England is a sin.

Much of what happened, alas, we could no longer see,

for,by then, we were gasping, hiding behind a tree.

Two policemen found us and told us not unkindly

to go home at once, so we obeyed them blindly

Walking back through the village there was no hint of battle.

Justnormal daily routine and ordinary tittle tattle.

Back home we wondered where indeed we had been;

was it a play or was it for real what we had seen?