by Spartanburg Dawg (Mike Floyd)
Georgia trailed 21-20 and time was running out on what he knew was too good to last forever. Florida had the ball with less than four minutes remaining in the game, and things were getting worse by the second. “Dear God,” he thought to himself, “I think I’m going to be sick.”The game was on television, but he wasn’t watching. Instead, he was in the car at the local soccer fields, suffering with Munson on the weak, AM radio of his 1976 Dodge Colt. His son had a soccer match, as he did every Saturday, and he’d always made a point to attend, even if soccer didn’t make a bit of sense to him. It was just being there that mattered. And it meant a lot to his son, too. Almost 20 years later, he’s proud to joke that he’ll never attend another Little League game. No baseball. No football. No basketball. “Seen enough to last a lifetime,” he says with a smile. But in his heart, he knows he’ll be there when the grandchildren come and the cycle begins again. Most of the time, he really enjoyed himself watching his kid play ball.
But on this day, he’s wasn’t a damn bit happy about being at that soccer field. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Frankly, he just wanted to go home, go to bed and be left the Hell alone. Maybe mix a stiff bourbon and take the phone off the hook.
Top-ranked Notre Dame had inexplicably tied winless Georgia Tech just moments earlier, and everybody knew what that meant. Ranked second in the country, the ‘Dawgs were about to let an opportunity slip away in Jacksonville. Right through our fingers! Dear God, we were so close. And the sick feeling came over him once again.
And then he got out of the car, cursed beneath his breath and slammed the door. It was over. The damn thing was over the Dawgs had broken his heart again. He just couldn’t take anymore.You’d think he’d have learned by now, but this one was worse than most. Hell, it was worse than any. It had never been this bad.
The car was perched a top a hill that overlooked the soccer match, and he followed a trail down to field level. And he stood there, hands on his hips, staring directly at the ground. Then at the field. And at the ground again. He took two steps toward his wife, who was standing on the sidelines. She caught his eye and could tell that it was bad. But he knew walking over to her would mean he’d have to speak, and he just wasn’t sure he could do that right now. Especially not with all those Clemson b**tards over there.
So he turned around and began climbing back up the hill. “I’ve been with them this long,” he said to himself. “I might as well hear it end.” It wouldn’t be the first time the ‘Dawgs had taken a fall, although he really thought this might be the year things were different. He stared at the ground as he traced his steps up the incline.
As he approached the car, he realized that in his haste to leave a few moments earlier, he’d mistakenly left the radio on and the window rolled down. So with the door closed and the window open, he placed his forehead on the roof and stood beside the car to listen as his dreams fell apart.
“Florida in a stand-up five….they may or may not blitz….they won’t,” growled Munson, and he raised his head from the roof when he realized the Dawgs had the ball. “Buck back….third down on the eight…..”
“On the eight,” he thought. “It’s over. The damn thing is over.”
“….in trouble….got a block behind him….gonna throw on the run…..complete to the 25, to the 30, 40, Lindsay Scott 45, 50, 45, 40 …. Run Lindsay! ….25, 20, 15, 10, 5…. LINDSAY SCOTT! LINDSAY SCOTT! LINDSAY SCOTT!”
There was a feeling of shock, at first. A numbness. Complete and total disbelief. And then the joy came, a feeling of such incomparable happiness that the best writer in the world couldn’t put it into words. And then came the tears. A grown man, standing alone in a parking lot in Spartanburg, South Carolina, crying like a baby. It wasn’t a sight one saw everyday, and I’m sure more than a few of the locals thought that the poor slob over there beside that yellow car had just seen his life fall apart.
The soccer game was over moments later and I walked off the field toward my mom. She immediately told me that she thought Georgia won, but no real details were available. Apparently, dad hadn’t composed himself enough at that point to make it down the hill, but she had seen him beside the car and knew it had to be good.
We walked toward the car and dad could barely spit it out. It came out something like “Lindsay 90 yards they won can you believe it they won and it’s over.” I look back now and realize he was still in shock. I was a bit worried about the old man, actually, as he stood before us with puffy eyes and told mom to drive us home. No doubt him handing her the keys was the second miracle of the
It wasn’t until I got home and saw the replay on television that I realized the magnitude of the event. And even at age 10, I knew then and there that this damn soccer business just wasn’t for me. Any sport that required my father to sit in a car by himself and listen to the Dawgs through the static of a sorry radio because he loved me so much that he had rather attend my crummy soccer match than watch the Georgia game on television told me all I needed to know.
I hear they still play soccer on Saturday, but they don’t play it with me. After November 8, 1980, I’m proud to say I never touched a soccer ball again.