I try not to bad-mouth people, especially in the paper. But some of the folks at Hugh Mills Stadium were just plain rude.
I promised Dennis Sanders after he signed off the radio for the last time this football season that I would tell this story. I said I'd leave out the most embarrassing parts.
It started when we couldn't find anywhere to eat on the way to Thomson's second round playoff game. My wife and I ended up eating crackers from the only gas station in town.
At the stadium, the Dougherty athletic director almost didn't let Priscilla in the gate to take stats for Channel 6. Once inside, there was nowhere in either of the huge stadium's press boxes for us to sit.
At halftime, there was no Wild Bill Beckum because security wouldn't let him cross the field to share the stats on the radio. Honestly, what was wrong with those people?
But the icing on the cake came later. After the game, I had to write the article and send it without the help of an Internet connection. That means dictation. Fun.
While I was typing, the stadium lights went out. Once I finished, I packed up cameras and computers and decided to help Mr. Sanders carry his radio equipment to the car.
We walked up to the gate we had entered and found a chain and pad lock holding it shut. "OK," we thought, "Maybe it's just this one."
Not a chance.
We set down our heavy bags and spread out over the entire stadium, systematically checking each gate. All were locked. Panic began to set in.
I knew we were safe from harm. No one could get to us, what with the barbed wire topping the eight-foot cement block wall around the entire facility. Should we call the police? Should we climb and risk being cut or robbed? Should we spend the night?
Dennis finally found a spot on the wall where the barbed wire was gone. He climbed up a gate and sat atop the wall eyeing the long drop. Priscilla and I climbed up the scoreboard and stepped onto the wall.
The funniest part was when each of our heads popped up; we scared a group of kids standing outside the stadium talking. They didn't know what had got them. One girl had the courage to stick around and set our stuff on the ground so we could climb over unimpeded.
I jumped down first. Even with my still tender basketball-sprained ankle, I was uninjured. Priscilla scraped her fingers on the wall and lost a few nails. Dennis, well let's just say he didn't quite fare as well as we did. I'm glad our bag of clothes was laying in just the right place.
The moral of the story is this. Avoid playing Dougherty. Either that or take one of a few extra things with you: bolt cutters, ropes, grappling hooks and especially a pillow to stuff down the back of your pants.
Sorry Dennis, I just couldn't resist.