In 1984, the University of South Carolina Football team started 9-0 and moved to number 2 in the polls. This was a heady times for the Gamecocks. William Price Fox, noted author and Gamecock fanatic wrote a book about that "Black Magic" season which I got for Christmas the following year. Arch-rival Clemson was on probation that year and could not appear on television live. As a result, the biggest game of the year was only shown on tape delay. Fox and his game-watching companion couldn't get tickets for the game and were stuck waiting for the replay that night. Now, in South Carolina, there is no bigger event than the Carolina-Clemson football game. There would be almost no way to avoid knowing the result in the lag between the final whistle and the replay. Fox and his buddy decided to garrison themselves in a rural motel, stocked with enough liquor and food to ensure they would not have to leave the room at all during the day. The motel was off the main roads so they didn't have to worry too much about someone in a passing car yelling out the score. It happens. Like I said, this is a big deal. Long story short; they made it to game time without knowing the outcome, Carolina scored late to win the game, and Mike Hold and William "The Refrigerator" Perry had a signature moment in the rivalry.
I do not have to go to those lengths to watch a delayed West Ham match. First off, I don't think there is a rural motel in South Carolina that would carry Setanta. Secondly, there are only a few other West Ham fans in town and they don't have my phone number where they could call and spoil the score for me. Against Hartlepool, there was one moment of spoiler potential. I had arrived at the pub a few minutes before the match and the Man U-Sp*r match was on. I watched the end of it and should have known better than to continue to watch after it was over. Of course, West Ham was the first highlight shown. As soon as I saw the claret and blue, I clapped my hands over my ears and ran out of the building. A few moments later, another patron came out and said it was alright for me to come back in. Of course he also said WHU won 7-0 and he was sorry to spoil it for me. I told him if that was the actual score, I would forgive him.
The match itself was pretty bland. The Irons looked subdued while Hartlepool looked to be trying their best for every moment. David tried hard as well but with better results. Of course, we are not exactly Goliath are we? At about the 41 minute mark, my youngest boy said, "I gotta go to the bathroom!" Yes, there was an exclamation point at the end of his sentence. When a four year old says that, you are pretty much stuck going to the bathroom. As he was wrapping up, the five year old came knocking on the door. By the time, we got done, it was extra time and the score was 2-0. Fantastic timing boys.
Middlesbrough is next in February and the team should be more up for that match. The sweet sixteen is nice but eight is great. First up though, is free-falling Hull. These do not appear to be the same teams that faced each other a few months ago. I see a much different result occurring this time. Of course, I won't actually see the result as I don't think the match is even live on broadband and the first replay I could reasonably get to is on Friday. I won't be able to stay off the Internet or Fox Soccer that long. Well, life can't be all surprises can it?