When Debby Martland walked into the prom that night all eyes turned to see the beautiful auburn haired girl, dressed in red. She was stunningly beautiful and popular but not prom queen, that honour went to Erika Young, the blonde.
Debby preferred not to be queen. This meant she could dance with whom she wanted to, her beau was Alec Grainger, who but for an injury would have led Brankton University to the Connaught bowl victory they had deserved since mid-season When they beat Palmer Tech 23-10, in one of the biggest upsets in College football.
All eyes watched Debby when she made her way past the football team, to a table at the back of the hall, where Alec sat on his own, drinking coffee. The crutches on the floor beside him told the tale of the end of what might have been Brankton’s finest middle line backer.
All Debbie saw, was her man in his college jacket, sat alone whilst the team celebrated their glory after beating Yardley the previous week, to win 14 -13 with the last kick of the game “Alec, aren’t you going to join the team love?” Debbie asked.
“No love. I don’t feel I belong there now, after the injury. Let them have their glory.”
“Everybody knows, if you hadn’t been defensive captain until the Championship game. They would never have got anywhere.”
“Could have been, should have been. I know, love, let Dave bathe in his glory, it was a hard game, and I suppose the best team won!”
“You don’t sound convinced. What's on your mind love?”
“Oh, just the different styles of myself and Dave and how we almost lost because of it. I didn’t like the way we won. Then it wasn’t up to me, to make the calls this time was it!”
“Anyway, love, you go and enjoy the evening, don't let me spoil it for my lovely Debby. I saw all the lads looking at you, when you came in.”
“Heck no! Why should I be love? I know we are good no matter what happens. I just want you to feel free to enjoy your night, and not get lumbered with a crock like me.”
“A crock you maybe ,Alec, but you are my crock and I love you.”
“Thanks, that means a lot, when you consider how many good looking guys there are here tonight.”
“Can you tell me what happened in the game against Verlderman. We saw the tape of the game and when you got injured. I can't make out what went wrong love. How did you see it going down?”
“The play was called from the box double tight right.”
“Sorry love, you will have to explain to me!”
I'm sorry Debs, I get so used to talking the game, I forgot I need to tell people. What that meant was a classic Redskin move of the 70s, 2 tight ends on the right to block for a running play. I called the counter, our special 'Pork roll,' this meant instead of 4 linemen and 3 line-backers, we go to 3-4, line goes to the right, line backers to the left, to keep the runner thinking of a new route. As the runner hit the line, the linebackers pushed forward to block. That was whenI felt something tear in my leg and fell to the floor. I was in the middle of the pack and everything went on until the play stopped and the ref saw me holding my leg. Next thing I remember is going to hospital for the cast, now I can't walk or stand for long.”
“That's awful love. We were watching the game film and we think we saw Dave accidentally stand on your ankle.”
“Why would he do that?We are best mates.”
“You tell me! It's no secret that he wanted to be a starter but lacks your fire and steel. It's no secret either, that his family have him marked out for a law firm, even though he wants to play football. If you planned it well, he could get his chance now. Before he was at best a fifth round choice, in other words, he would have to fight for his place, we know he isn’t good enough for that.”
“Okay. Let us assume you are right, what do I get out of this?”
“That is something that has puzzled me since the injury,you had several teams willing to give up 2nd and 3rd round draft picks to get you.You would have been an automatic starter, maybe even Superbowl winner love. Everything points to Dave benefiting at your cost, best friends as you are, I can't see you throwing the chance of big time away, just to hand it to him.”
“Believe me Deb, I got just as much out of this as Dave, I made sure of it. I suggest you look at the school records of 1960, when my dad played here, that might give you an idea.”
“I'll do that tomorrow love.”
“Now go and enjoy the rest of the night, I'll see you in a while.”
While Debbie danced the night away. Alec was busy writing in his notebook, she knew he always had it with him but could not think what he might be writing about this time.
The next day, as requested Debbie turned up at the library archive section to review the old school game reports, it was there she found the first part of her answer, just as Alec said she would. The report for the game against Mildermere “The Brankton side held their own against the might of a much stronger Mildermere team for three quarters and could have possibly forced extra time but for an unfortunate accident involving ace run blocking line backer Fred Grainger. Deep into the third quarter Grainger was blocking a 3rd and short, when he collapsed holding his left leg. As he tried to stand, it was obvious he was unable and had to be carried off on a stretcher. With the game close, this was a critical blow to Brankton. This blow which was to cost them the game and title chance as Mildermere ran out 30-20 winners, later on taking both the Championship pennant and the Connaught bowl.”
“Maybe that is what Alec was worried about,” Debbie thought, as she wound onto the next page to find what happened to Alec’s father. The story ended with “After being carried off last week, it has been reported that Fred Grainger’s injury is worse than thought. The Achilles tendon is torn so bad, he will need major surgery and will not be able to play again. Oh my poor thing, he was worried it would come back to haunt him, for his chance at the big time.”
After putting the reels back on the shelf and thanking the librarian, Debbie went for her coffee and to meet Alec for dinner. “Hi love, I did as you asked and read about your dad’s serious injury, that was terrible.”
“I know,Deb. He never got over it and still walks with a limp as you know.”
“Is that why you got injured then love and gave Dave his chance?”
“You have twoparts of the theory now love but are still missing two.”
“What do I get from this? And what actually happened that day?”
“I know you were worried about your dad’s injury coming back sometime to ruin your chances and I know you were never really into playing football. You were the best we had, but your heart was never really there.It has been in your writing, which is why you carry your notebook. Which brings me to a good point, what were you writing last night love?”
“After my injury and knowing I want to write, the coach approached the Dean and they agreed for me to write the game reports. They thought who better than a former player.”
“I can't fault them there. Even though you have a football grant, your writing is great. When will we see the report?”
“The paper is out tomorrow with my report .”
“Great, I look forward to reading it. Now back to our original question. I see you wanting to get out of the game to be a writer and not wanting to end up with a limp like your dad. But the accident?”
“You saw the film.What did you think?”
“Being honest, I couldn't say what happened.”
The following day the report came out as scheduled, Alec’s first match report for the Brankton courier made the headlines “For the fist time in their 75 year history Brankton college lifted the Connaught bowl last week, in a hard game of defenses they came from behind to win 14-13. One of the reasons for the close fought game was the change in styles of defense forced upon Brankton by the career ending injury to line backer Alec Grainger. After a scoreless first half Yardley took the lead with a running touch down, made possible by a classic Cowboys move from the great Tom Landry playbook ( the Statue of Liberty). This involves the QB, taking a five step drop, usually signifying a long throw, this will stop the cornerbacks and safties from moving up close. As he gets the ball he draws his arm back, the running back takes the ball from him, with the corners and safties expecting the pass play. They are too deep to stop the running game. Brankton’s offence never got the chance to shine, as they were held to two feld goals by kicker Paul Lucan, one of forty yards and the second from thirty-five yards.
The only time offence did move was when QB sensation of the season Dirk Morrison ran in from fifteen yards on a QB scramble. The following conversation for the extra point was blocked giving Brankton an 11-6 lead going into the final quarter.
Yardley ran the ball well taking as much time off the clock as they thought they would need, before QB Ashley Cummings threw a forty yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jake Loomings, this tied the game at 11-11, with only a minute left. Yardley went for a fake kick and Cummings threw to tight end Dave Jackson to give Yardley the lead 13-11. When all looked sealed for a Yardley win, they took a chance on an on-side kick and keeping possession rather than kicking deep. Brankton got the kick and ran it back ten yards, giving Paul Lucan a fifty yard kick to make to win the game.
After taking the kick, and seeing the ball sail high, Lucan turned around and sat waiting, head in his hands. Either it would be a roar, signalling a Brankton win or a sigh for a Yardley victory.The ball hit the post and ricocheted in, the roar could be heard all around the ground.”
“That is a great report!” Debbie commented. “Not at all biased or vindictive as to you weren't playing.”
“Thanks love, I am a reporter darling, my personal feelings don’t come into it. I was just reporting on a football game.”
“I've looked at the film again and no matter how many times, I still can't make out if it was accident or planned between you and Dave. You both benefited from your injury.”