Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Journalism, Department of English, East Tennessee State University (1997) Excerpted from my first published piece.
He spent one afternoon, at the age of fourteen, glued to the 1966 World Cup semi-final game between England and Portugal, Charlton .v. Eusebio, the Lion .v. the Panther, locked with his mother and kid brother in a tiny bubble of perfect patriotic fervor. Only one of millions of such bubbles scattered that day throughout the green, grey, and unpleasant land, all held within the loving embrace of a nation-sized bubble. Except that is for his father, who was out embracing the oily attempted salvation of their fourteen-year-old car, trying to coax another trouble-free 10,000 miles from an engine that barely had any of its original parts. His father's particular form of escape. Down at the dead end of their street, legs protruding from beneath the front end of the black and chrome car, his shoes scuffed, his trousers rucked and oil stained, lay his father, a bone white shin exposed to an uncaring and heavy sky.
And after Eusebio had ghosted between the stout oak hearts of the English defense, flowing like a black ribbon to strike the ball into the back of the net, it was his duty as eldest son to carry the bad news to his father. He moved slowly up the deserted street. Every street in every city in the land was deserted at that moment. He was the only soul stirring in all of England and he felt the dread weight of his progress along that sunless street. He dawdled past the bleak, faceless cement of the street's apartment buildings, hoping he wouldn't share the fate of the messenger who was executed because of the tidings they bore. Up ahead he saw the car. It looked for a moment as if the vehicle had fallen out of the featureless infinity of the sky to pin his father to the tarmac. When he reached the car he spoke the words almost fearfully, almost apologetically, to the bulls eye holes in the soles of his father's shoes.
“Portugal scored Dad."
There was nothing more to be said. He turned and trudged back to what he prayed was nothing worse than the 1-0 down England had been when he'd left. But then halfway down the street he imagined, could see quite clearly in the dull, grey air before him, Bobby Charlton letting loose a blazing shot from twenty-five - no thirty yards out, a net burster, an equalizer, surely. He ran the last half block home. Three times more that day he carried news of the game to his father's feet but this time each of the trips were occasions for joy, And, yes there surely was a God in Heaven aand today He was a spitfire pilot and the English were surely the happiest of his children. For the boy's vision had been played out not once but twice, there on the flickering monotone of their twelve-inch TV set Bobby Charlton had unleashed two rockets, both had found the back of the net, and mighty Portugal lay at England's feet. It was war in its purest form, without the shitty behavior and the stink of corpses,
The last visit to his father's legs was with the news that the final whistle had gone and that England had reached the final of the greatest football competition in the world. The World Cup. This news provoked in his father's legs what he assumed was some brief, celebratory jig. But despite the momentous nature of the occasion he knew that his father would not return to the apartment until either the light went or the engine submitted to his will.
Causes Luke James Supports
Doctors Without Borders