It has become a cliche to claim that a sports team has "snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory," but that is exactly how the two teams I follow most closely turned this past Saturday into a fan's nightmare. To begin with, my second favorite team, the Alabama Crimson Tide, managed to blow a big lead late in the Arkansas game and ended up losing 34-31. A late turnover here by Bama and a stupid penalty there by Bama, and -- all of a sudden -- time and Bama's luck had run out, and the Razorbacks had managed to tie the game. It took two overtimes, but Bama lost the game, a game that really should have been won by Coach Shula's boys. I felt terrible as that game ended, but things got even worse when my true favorite team, the Clay Recreation Under-14 Soccer Cougars went down 1-0 to everybody's traditional soccer enemy, the Mountain Brook Soccer Club. Despite the efforts of my handsome, tall, intelligent and talented grandson Jake and his hard-charging mates, a last minute error by some other grandfather's grandson allowed those accursed lads in Brookie-red shirts to take a corner kick which resulted in a cheap goal slipped into the net behind the keeper's back. Still someone else's grandson -- no names will be mentioned here! -- misplayed his position at keeper by getting too close to the guy taking the corner and also failed to direct a fullback to guard the back side of the net so that the long corner kick dropped over the keeper's head and no one was there by the far post except a red-shirt who tapped the ball in for an easy score. After 68 minutes of flawless play, someone else's grandson, with only two minutes to go in the match -- again I'll not call any names today! -- had really screwed up at goal-keeper and robbed us of a tie which might have kept us even in the standings with first-place Mountain Brook. As the Saturday evening sunset lengthened the shadows over the well-manicured upper soccer field at Mountain Brook High School, the nightmare was complete; both my teams had managed to stumble into embarassing defeats when they should have won.
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