Posted: August 4, 2012 in thomas t fields jr., Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

For years after I hung up the cleats and only spent time at the stadium watching football and not participating I still had this built in clock that told me it was time to get ready for the season to start.  I don’t know if it was the lazy hot summer days or the smell of freshly cut summer grass or maybe the biological clock that was noting that the sun was shining one minute less every day; whatever it was there was an internal clock that said it’s time to strap on the chin strap.

There  was just something special about going out and running until you were ready to pass out, honing the agility drills and dong everything you could to beat the brains out of your best friend.  Then when it was all over you would head to the Dairy Etta or A&W and relish in the physical accomplishments you had just achieved.  It was just so, American.  Football is something that no one except Americans can understand and this may be one of our secrets to our success as a great nation.  I don’t know whether it takes a unique set of individuals to love a sport such as football or if the love of football helps to develop a set of unique individuals that are willing to sacrifice everything for a special cause .  Perhaps it a little of both..

During WWII, during half time of the Cotton Bowl, many of the college players were sworn into the military.  What a fitting end to a great season and what a fitting sacrifice for a great country.

Thinks have changed so much over the years and much of the innocence of our beloved sport has been lost but it still builds the character and discipline and individual needs required in life.  Today there are high school programs that have more coaches than we had players on our freshman team.  Prior to Doc Elliot stadium, the track practice was at the area that is now the girls softball field and the 440 was practiced around the baseball field.  The facilities were lacking but the heart was no less than today.

In the mid sixties Farmerville would open up its season at the  Holly Ridge Jamboree.  There is on longer a Holly Ridge High School but back then it was a great way to usher in the school year.  I can remember as a seventh grader in my first year in football taking the bus driven by James Peyton Smith to Holly Ridge.  For one dollar the students could go to the jamboree.  There was hero worship of the varsity players.  I can recall how special it was when Billy Anderson and Gary Len Allbritton slipped on the bus to ride back to Farmerville with the students.  It was magical when as a second grader Donny Gates or Mikey Rabun would visit my cousin Buddy who lived next door.  Life was simple and fun and the football game was so special.

Inter-parish rivalry was very strong. The Farmerville Farmers would battle the Bernice Bears and a Farmerville student had better not be caught in the dreaded Bears Den, the hamburger stand that is now just a memory where High Way 167 splits south of town. As an eighth grade I dared to enter and was told to stay with my Bernice friends and I would be OK.

Today, football still demands the admiration of so many.  It is more technical and more demanding that in the past.  It is doubtful that many players go from practice to the hayfields to work until the sun goes down.  The players are larger, much larger, quicker and faster and the game is still loved by the towns that the teams represent.  The players are still looked on with hero worship by the under classmen and the lessons learned on the practice field will continue to fuel the leaders of a great nation.

Buckle up the chin straps, the season is right around the corner; the internal clock tells me so.  See you at the game.


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