Steven Cooke

Rookie (01-04-1958 / Sheffield)

Another Zulu Dawn - Poem by Steven Cooke

Another Zulu Dawn
(The Battle for Orgreave Pit)

Cries of Zulu as miners rushed the barricades
Truncheons banging against riot shields
A nation at war with itself
Men of South Yorkshire,
United in the right to defend their pit

Maggie’s the Caesar of capitalism
Her legionnaires bought with 30 pieces of silver
Brought from the four corners of this septic isle
To take away another man’s right.
To destroy his culture, his freedom, his way of life

A democracy of road blocks and strip searches
England for the few
While miners live on Pots of rabbit stew
Demonised by the elected south,
Propaganda their stew.

Orgreave, now a place of forgotten ghosts
And Coal the driver of this great economic power
All gone
Memories, now overwhelmed by the banks and the city

But power is fleeting, a house of cards
For they too have felt the wind of recession
So beware the hurricane, or you too might become extinct
And what Caesar will save you.

Footnote to this poem
This poem is about the Miners’ Strike, June 18th 1984
As a young lad and bizarre as it may seem I played in a 5 a side football match at Orgreave Pit on this day.
My way was blocked by 1000s of miners and a cordon of Police blocking our access with barriers of Riot Shields.
We made our way to the front and asked a Policeman to let us through. To my amazement the cordon opened and we were let through.

Behind us was a surge of Miners all shouting Zulu. It must have been a rallying call, for me it was a magnificent site, a place of community rebellion, a place to be proud of. In response the Police beat their shields with truncheons. The sounds were deafening,
From the sides mounted police horses galloped into the crowd causing miners to fall and split. This was war without guns. The Miners regrouped and the Cry of Zulu saw miners coming over fields and down the lane charging at the barricade of shields, the sounds of the clashes were unbelievable. At the end of the day I was coming home there were coaches of police holding up their wage packets to the window at the remnants of miners now left, a final insult to the miners. None of this was reported at the time.

What the general public did not know was the government intervention on reporting the struggle. Many incidents were deliberately withheld from the public. Never before in the history of this country have the forces of State been used on its own people to implement a policy by a minority. An account of this battle can be found on Wikipedia. In light of recent press spying and phone tapping, one can see that the seeds of such practices were sewn here at Orgreave. On a more happy memory the rock singer Bruce Springsteen was playing his concert in Sheffield. He donated free tickets to all the striking miners and gave £50,000 to the striker’s fund, as he came from a mining family. A reflection of the strong community links by miners throughout the world.

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, December 11, 2011

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