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"Nooligan" and "Street Boy"

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“Nooligan” and “Street Boy”

By Hamza Mush

The poems “Nooligan” by Roger McGough and “Street Boy” by Gareth Owen are two poems which both deal with the issue of teenage hooliganism, and both poets use language to create a vivid sense of character. Although both deal with the same theme, there are many similarities and differences between the two.

“Nooligan” is about a boy who thinks he is really powerful and harsh but is actually an uneducated boy trying to be a real hooligan. “Street Boy” is also about a hooligan except that he actually is more powerful and has a higher status than the inferior “Nooligan”.

One of the main similarities is that both the poets present the characters as using slang language or some sort of incorrect form of English. In “Nooligan” for example the boy says in the fourth line of the third verse:

Football’s me game

(Well, watchin’)

McGough has used “me” instead of my. This portrays the “Nooligan” as unintelligent and uneducated because of the use

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There is another resemblance between the two poems and that is the use of rhyme. Both poems use the same rhyming scheme. “Nooligan” uses ABCBD while “Street Boy” uses ABCB. The only difference is the last line of “Nooligan” which is in parenthesis and doesn’t rhyme or fit with any of the other lines.

I’m the boss

(Well, one of them)

Roger McGough has done this deliberately to make the last line stand out, gives an anti-climax effect. That last line creates humor in the poem and shows the true personality of the “Nooligan”. It tells the reader that he isn’t actually what he’s pretending to be. Not only that but the line in brackets always starts with “well”.

One other obvious correspondence between the two poems is the actual theme they are based on. Both are to do with teenage hooliganism and both the “Nooligans” are very aggressive and violent. This excerpt from “Street Boy” clearly shows us the aggressiveness of the hooligan.

My head is full of silence

My mouth is full of shout

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Don’t give a toss

                                                           …I’m the boss

Those two lines aren’t quite aggressive and violent as the “Nooligan" is supposed to be. On the contrary, the tone in “Street Boy” is aggressive and strong. Gareth Owen uses a stronger and more sophisticated vocabulary which makes us think that the boy actually is what he’s saying he is. The words “stompin’”, “silence”, “spaced”, “stoned” all show that.

        In conclusion, the two poems are very interesting and engaging in terms of the use of words, tone, structure etc. The poets Roger McGough (“Nooligan”) and Gareth Owen (“Street Boy”) use specific techniques to give the poems a certain effect. There are differences and similarities between the two obviously. The main similarity is the poets’ use of slang and an incorrect form of English and the main difference is the language and vocabulary between the two poems. Something worth mentioning is that the poets have made the poems relate to all teenagers in general since the name of the “Nooligan” and the “Street Boy” aren’t given. So overall, there are a lot of similarities and differences between the two, but both are to the point and give you a general idea of what the poem is about.

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