Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 9:52 a.m.
Red Devil soccer has developed gradually over the years. I was away, writing oddly about race cars that go around and around, for most of its history, but it has been my theory that Clinton High School added a soccer program at just about the time sporting goods manufacturers stopped making blocked-off shoes for straight-on football kicking.
From time immemorial until the end of the 1980s, Red Devil football had exactly one soccer-style placekicker, and the reason I am so attuned to this phenomenon is that the sidewinder in question, in 1978 and 1979, was my brother, Brack, who also played cornerback in the latter year’s Shrine Bowl. Have you ever noticed how seldom it is that a placekicker plays another position nowadays?
What I’m suggesting is that the motives might have been slightly mixed when a soccer team representing District 56 finally took the field.
On Tuesday evening, amid conditions that were almost perfect, Clinton won a Class 3A soccer playoff game for the first time … ever. All I was there to write was this. I took a few photos during the first half and then retired to the sidelines, there to complain about the officiating and be swept up in partisan fervor.
The score was Clinton (11-11) 3, Chester (8-9) 2. The Red Devils will go to Walhalla, an outpost on the far side of Clemson from here, for another match on Thursday night.
Luke Mann, whose father once played football with me; Parker Duncan, son of our Congressman; and Elvis Fitz, who coincidentally kicked field goals and extra points for the football team last fall; scored the goals. The Red Devils outshot the Cyclones, 20-12.
Clinton took a 1-0 lead on Mann’s goal. Then it was 1-1. Then Clinton took the lead again. And Chester tied it. Duncan’s game-winner occurred in the 71st minute, three after Chester’s Jeffery Gulish scored.
At the time, things looked ghoulish. I couldn’t resist.
Duncan’s game-winner led 30 parents of Cyclones to yell aloud something like “oh, fiddlesticks!” and something less wholesome under their breaths, and about 50 Red Devil fans to exult in much the same fashion. The tone was markedly different.
Clinton: “Damned if we didn’t score! He got it! He got it! Who was it? Parker Duncan! Woo-hoo! Go, Parker!”
Duncan, whose thirst for the net is as great as his father’s political ambition, also had an assist, as did Jesus Gonzalez and Patrick Nelson.
If one is standing on a sideline, surrounded by others among the faithful, listening to jeers rising from the little wooden grandstand where the other team’s pilgrims have set up camp, reality gets distorted.
It was as if the officials were willing participants in a seedy attempt by the visitors to brutalize the local lads. Fans were howling for mandatory incarceration, no parole, and all the refs had to offer was a single, solitary yellow card. I even went so far as to suggest one of the co-conspirators might need an update in the prescription for his spectacles. Oh, wait. The ref wasn’t wearing glasses. Contact lenses, undoubtedy. Something was distorting his view.
Many of the fans were quite knowledgeable about the game, no doubt a result of carrying kids all over the Upstate to play club soccer for “select” teams.
If Clinton should win at Walhalla against the Razorbacks – it seems particularly unique a nickname for soccer – then I’m told they will play Berea, the Greenville school that is, according to a reliable source standing next to me, the No. 28 team in the nation.
I’ve got my share of problems, but I’m glad I haven’t been tasked at trying to figure out the top 50 high school soccer teams in America. Lots of variables, I’m thinking.
Ever since I started writing fiction, fans have asked me to write a novel about stock car racing. I kept it a secret while I was working on it. Now it’s out. Lightning in a Bottle is the story of the next big thing, 18-year-old Barrie Jarman.
Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced. Lightning in a Bottle will be in stock shortly.
Signed copies of Lightning in a Bottle are also available at Emma Jane’s, 105 East Main Street on the Square, Clinton.
If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.
Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.
Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.
Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.
The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.
The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.
Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.
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