Monday, September 17, 2007
This past weekend Cap'n Pappy conned Mammy in to going down to Florida under the auspice of "visiting friends". What Mammy neglected to realize was that the Vols were in town and they was lookin' fer an ass beatin'. Cap'n Pappy files this report from the Swampy Marshland:
The Pilgrimage (with respect to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales)
In September when the tropical lows begin to form off the coast of Africa
And the leaves begin to change in most college towns
Sightings of the reptiles Albert and Alberta (the Gator mascots) begin
And football fans begin their pilgrimages
To the place where only Gators get out alive: The Swamp!
Yes, the Florida Field at the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is the mecca
For cowboys from Kissimmee, bucanneers from Captiva
Water moccasin skinners from Alligator Alley, crackers from Sopchoppy.
They begin their pilgrimages closer than we did and in more esteemed transports
Swamp Things, horned Cadilllacs, satellite-dished RV’s with smokers in tow
Orange and blue way-off-road Big Feet, F250’s sporting pennants and awnings
Wend their way to the little town uphill from Payne’s Prairie, Gainesville.
Ben Hill Griffin, cattle rancher and grove boss from my part of the state, typified the loyalty to the Orange & Blue
Y’all need a new stadium? Hell, why didn’t ya tell me, boys.
Few head of cattle later, the impenetrable walls of the Swamp appear. Impenetrable because you can’t get OUT til the Gators stop feedin.
Photo from EDSBS
The rhymenocerous graze, after...
This pilgrimage was the first for my wife, co-creator of the Sports Brethren
She grew up a Redskins fan, an NFL fan, and has never understood the magnetism of college football. No doubt because the only college football she was exposed to was ACC (wait til hoops season). She thinks Cameron Indoor is loud.
We arrive Friday and already the RV’s have the satellite dishes out. The pigs are smokin. By Saturday at 0900 hours, the transports are parked on every square inch of concrete and sand and the speakers are blaring Rocky Top and the Orange and the Blue. On this Saturday as the nearly 100,000 of the Gator Nation fill up the Swamp, the national champion Gator roundball team is introduced and receive their championship rings. As the practicing teams clear the field, Mr. 2 Bits leads the first cheer. Mr. 2 Bits, an 85 year old gentleman in seersucker, saddle oxfords, tie, and straw boater, who has not missed a home game since Tennessee was half of North Carolina, seems to tolerate the 110 degree field temperature better than the Vols. As he jogs off the field, the chant begins. The 50,000 in the student section are “Orange”: a 3.5 on the Richter. The 50,000 on our side are “Blue” and the drink in my Gator cup is vibrating like the footfalls of T Rex in Jurassic Park.
This continues louder and louder until on the Big Screen we hear the 2 notes of the Jaws theme and see live footage of real alligators in a swamp feeding frenzy. At this moment the team races onto the field from the SouthEast corner of the Swamp and you have the audible equivalent of Krakatoa. My wife is laughing and holding her ears. Laughing because the game has not even begun and Redskin fans in DC are wondering what that noise was. Holding her ears so that they don’t bleed.
The kickoff ensues, the Vols punt after their first drive falters, and the punt is promptly returned by Brandon James for a touchdown. As Mick Hubert, voice of the Gators, would put it: Oh My! The first half stays relatively close until Mercy Percy Harvin starts making moves that would put a sailfish to shame, Tim Tebow alternates strikes between single wing, T quarterback, and shotgun, Woody Pierre-Louis, the French cornerback, shuts down Ainge’s passing game and there you go Dustin Doe shuts down the run. The only break in the beatdown is between the 3d and 4th quarters when the crowd sings We are the Boys from Old F-L-O-R-I-D-A. At one point in the 4th quarter, the Vols begin a series on their 10 or 15 with a delay of game and a 6 men on the line illegal formation penalty. 59 points later after Tennessee is dispatched the throngs along the roads from the stadiums graciously crank up the speakers to accompany the Orange and White RV’s leaving to the tune of Rocky Top.
The Swamp transports head back home along US 441, the Woodpecker Trail, the EC Rowell thru the Green Swamp, and the Sunshine State Parkway to rest their throats til next home game. 17 in a row have fallen in the Swamp. My wife is happy to return to North Carolina and the land of the sane, Tobacco Road, land of hoop dreams. There are far too many dangerous animals on the other side of the Great Okeefenokee.
Capn Pappy 9/07