Thursday, August 8, 2013

No. 301 – Dreamer

Performer: Supertramp
Songwriters: Rick Davies, Roger Hodgson
Original Release: Crime of the Century
Year: 1974
Definitive Version: Paris, 1980

Growing up in the shadow of Ohio Stadium meant that I was a football fan when I was a kid. What choice did I have—particularly when I was raised by a dyed-in-the-wool Buckeye fan?

But Dad wasn’t just an Ohio State fan; he also was a huge fan of Upper Arlington High School—his alma mater. He used to go to all their games long before I entered the UA school system. As it happened, Ohio State and UA had super teams, title-winning teams, at about the same time in the late Sixties, and Dad was in his heyday.

Naturally, I became a fan of both, and Dad started taking me to games. I don’t remember the first UA football game I attended—it was at least 1971—but I definitely remember the first Ohio State game.

By the time I was deemed old enough to go, I followed Ohio State almost as closely as Dad, so going to my first game was something of a religious experience. The game in question was in 1972 against North Carolina, and it was the first game by a freshman named Archie Griffin. Four quarters later, Griffin had run for a school record in yards and began a legendary college career. That’s a pretty good first game, no?

In 1974, UA had another good team, and Dad and I went to all the games, including the state semifinal game at Ohio Stadium and the state championship game in Akron’s Rubber Bowl, adjacent to the world’s largest air hangar—the one for the Goodyear blimp. It wasn’t to be, alas. UA got waxed by Warren Harding, 41-8.

Ohio State continued to have good teams thereafter, and I mentioned my “come to Jesus” moment after the 1980 Rose Bowl. UA, however, did not. They were never terrible, but they weren’t all that great … until I got to high school.

No, I didn’t play; I was just a schmuck fan. UA games on Friday night were the epicenter of my social life at the time. It was a good location, so I could rendezvous with my new buddy Mike coming from the south. My friends from the north, Jim and Jeff and others, would be there.

My junior year, in 1980, the team was really good—state ranked. Even better, I and my friends now had drivers licenses, so not only did we go to all the home games, but we also went to all the road games, too.

That was the last year UA was in the Central Ohio League, so road games were against teams in Lancaster and Newark, which made for much more fun road trips than say Worthington or Dublin, just up the road. The most memorable game in 1980 was the one in Lancaster. Jeff and I went, and I remember hearing this song on the radio on the drive. The Paris album had just come out, and the live version of Dreamer was everywhere. I never didn’t like hearing it.

Anyway, the Lancaster game had a big buildup. During the week, the Lancaster coach had been quoted in The Dispatch and gave UA some billboard material. He said how Lancaster was looking forward to this game, because they loved to beat the rich kids from Upper Arlington.

In retrospect, I’m not sure he said it in a derogatory fashion. Instead, he might have been saying that Lancaster, which wasn’t a rich community, measured itself by how well they played teams that had more resources. If they beat the rich kids, who had better facilities, they were having a great season.

Let’s face it: I didn’t have it nearly as well as other UA kids did, but kids from UA ARE the rich kids in the grand scheme of things. They certainly are compared with kids in Lancaster by any measurement you care to use.

Well, we rich kids didn’t take to kindly being dissed, even if it was somewhat innocuous, so we came prepared. Jeff and I were in the midst of what was by far the most rowdy student section I’d ever been part of at UA, cheering nonstop the entire game—to the point where things got a little tense when some Lancaster kids came over and a near-brawl broke out before cooler heads prevailed.

Not that we were innocents in all this. We had this cute little cheer, “We got money, yes we do. We got money, how bout you?” We got more! We got more!” And a few people would hold up a sheet with a big green dollar sign painted on it. Yes, that’s just the kind of thing you can expect form the hardscrabble streets of the Golden Ghetto. By the way, UA won, barely.

The team went to the playoffs that year and routed Sandusky in a first-round game, which meant now it was time to play THE state powerhouse at the time—Cincinnati Moeller. This was when Moeller was coached by Gerry Faust, just before he went to Notre Dame, and Moeller won everything every year. UA had a good team, but Moeller had a great team. The result was the worst beating I ever saw UA take: 36-0. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicated.

The next year, my senior year, UA was even better. Early in the year, UA went to play Cincinnati Princeton, which was the only team that had beaten Moeller in the past six years. Jim, Mike and I spent the night in Cincinnati … getting into absolutely no trouble whatsoever. How much trouble can you get into when you go to watch Private Benjamin? Anyway, UA destroyed what was at the time the No. 2 team in the state: 38-14. Wow, We really DO have a good team this year.

Sure enough, UA went 10-0, beat an undefeated Eastmoor in a Columbus showdown in the first round of the playoffs and went back to Dayton to face … an undefeated Cincinnati Moeller. Hot damn, revenge will be sweet.

It wasn’t. UA lost 14-0—shut out again by the damned Crusaders—and unlike the previous year, this one was a very bitter pill to swallow. The offensive playcalling was abysmal and the execution worse. It was like UA forgot everything it had done that whole year. Heck, Moeller didn’t even win the state title that year, losing the next weekend in the finals. They weren’t that good.

I went away to college the next year, and that all but ended my interest in UA football until 2000 when UA went all the way to the state title—the first big-school title by a team from Central Ohio since Upper Arlington did it in 1969. I watched the final game on TV at home. UA didn’t have to face nemesis Moeller or Princeton or other powers Cleveland St. Ignatius or Lakewood St. Edward.

There was a lot of talk about how UA got lucky, because it only had to face Solon in the final game. Well, you play who you play, and UA won it all. That was the last UA game I ever saw, which I would say is called going out on top as a fan.

700 songs down, 300 to go.

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