The Captain’s Dad
The story of a football triumph and a debt that was paid with interest
IF YOU turn back old files of the Queen’s Journal to the years preceding 1906, you may find occasional reference to Godfrey Barclay, called Sam Barclay by his classmates for no reason except that they liked him.
There may be odd paragraphs about him—in those days the enrolment was small, so that everybody came in for mention at some time or other—but nothing of note will be discovered, for Sam Barclay was a quiet, obscure student, even in that quiet, obscure time. Least of all, will there be found mention of Sam’s athletic skill, of his prowess on the football field, his dazzling achievements on basketball floor and hockey ice.
And that, after all, is not so strange. For Sam’s most triumphant moments, his most spectacular battles for Queen’s, were always rudely spoiled by some triviality.
Queen’s would be fighting desperately on their fifteenyard line, their backs to the wall, battling with the ferocity born of desperation to stave off the Varsity threat and defeat. Fifty-eight minutes of ripping, tearing, bruising football, and Queen’s still three points down. And now, backed up on their fifteen-yard line, defeat staring them in the face. The crowd in the stands would be on their feet, begging, imploring, beseeching them to rally, to fight, to win. Seconds and opportunity slipping rapidly away.
And then-* Sam Barclay. Then young Barclay himself, the idol of every Queen’s man, the fear of every opponent, the greatest quarterback the game had ever produced, would spring into the breach. He would go football crazy; become a fighting, slashing maniac. His helmet ripped off and flung aside, he would crouch, over his team, his voice whipping and hushing his men, goading them into a fresh burst of fighting frenzy, until they ripped the invincible Varsity line to shreds. Then Sam Barclay would hurtle through, head down, ball cuddled in the crook of his arm.
Nobody could catch the fleet Barclay. Was he not the outstanding sprinter at Queen’s? Up the side of the field he would flash, whipping before the packed grandstand, where a frantic, milling throng cheered him, on toward the distant Varsity goal. His feet would skim the turf; he would fly, the Varsity backs lumbering hopelessly in the rear. His team-mates, too, would be left behind. Barclay would be alone, winning singlehanded for Queen’s.
A few crowded, historic seconds. The crowd now suddenly silent, tense a silence more impressive than the insane roar of an instant ago. Sam Barclay still speeding along And then the Varsity goal line. Barclay would fall on the ball as the final whistle sounded. Queen's wins!
The stands, after a hushed fraction of a second, would go mad.
“Barclay! BARclay! BARCLAY!”
And then, when mobs of adoring students were lifting him, chairing him, worshipping him, the clock in the hall would strike and Sam’s dream of glory would vanish. He would start suddenly, blink, and find a textbook under his nase. He would stare at it blankly for an instant, sigh, re-light his cold pipe, grit his teeth, and tackle his study again.
When quietness again descended upon the rooming house the medical book before Sam’s eyes would slowly change to a hockey arena.
In the dying moments of the game, when Queen’s was still two goals down, Sam Barclay would scoop up the puck behind his own goal, circle and swoop and flash down the ice to . . .
Or perhaps it would be the basketball floor.
Great games Sam j 11,i .....1 H ^ , '1 • ~ sion of his room, staring at a textbook or lying open-eyed in the soft
darkness. Historic, toothand-nail battles, every one of them, when victory ■was snatched from defeat at the last moment and the flag nailed to Queen’s masthead. Great teams he captained; invincible football machines pivoted upon his spectacular skill. Sam Barclay, captain always, star among stars. /
And out on the field, the / '
ice, the floor, he did nothing.
In five years at Queen’s, never once did he don a uniform.
It must not be thought that Sam was content to stand on the sidelines, to play his games in quiet corners. He was not. With all the fervor of his soul, he yearned to get out there and fight and sweat for his alma mater. To run thirty yards for a touchdown was to him the ultimate pinnacle of achievement. He dreamed about it, even though he knew it was not for him. He couldn’t play football; he knew it, and that was all there was to it.
And so Sam Barclay, class of Medicine 1906, smoked his pipe and dreamed his dreams, and did such work as was essential. He passed his examinations neither poorly nor well; good enough to get by. Presently, because the time came around, he graduated.
Doctor Barclay settled down, quite typically, in a
sleepy old Ontario town. After a time he married Amy Boyd, a quiet, loyal little woman who was wise enough to leave his dreams to himself. For Sam Barclay continued to dream.
For instance, there appeared frequently in his pipe smoke nowadays the figure of a great surgeon of international repute, a man famous and successful beyond description. It was the same figure who had flashed up and down the football field in his college days.
ONE day Doctor Barclay was puttering about in his little lab when his wife came in. She seated herself, looked away out the window, and began to talk about this and that. Presently she turned to asking questions— with an increasing shy reticence. Suddenly Sam, out of his experience as a husband and physician, dropped a beaker and whirled upon her, face shining.
“By George!” he breathed.
During the succeeding weeks the doctor went through the motions of his work in a pink haze. Because he was methodical by nature, he worked thoroughly, but his mind was not upon his tasks. More and more often he sought his pipe and the open fireplace.
Gone now was the great physician in the firelight. In his place appeared a tiny, toddling little figure—a boy—• that scrambled to a place on his father’s knee and imperiously demanded stories. Whereupon Sam chuckled; the little fellow would be coming to the right place, all right.
The small figure in the heart of the fire grew rapidly, however. In half an hour, for instance, he would have increased surprisingly in stature. In fact, he would be in high school; or rather, on the high-school baseball team, which was much more important. The sturdy young chap would be pitcher, of course, and after pitching a Stirling brand of ball he would crash out a home run in the ninth to win his own game. Whereupon Sam would squirm ecstatically in his chair.
Before the next pipe was smoked out, that dream youth would appear in Queen’s tricolor. With three minutes to go and the championship at stake, the Queen’s captain would snatch the ball and . . .
THE doctor put a card under his doorbell and took his wife to the best hospital in Toronto for the event. At the zero hour he outraged every hospital regulation by smoking furiously in the corridor outside his wife’s door. And when the beaming nurse opened the door and beckoned, he jammed the hot pipe in his coat pocket and shuffled in.
A glance at the pale face in the white bed, smiling weakly but proudly. She was all right. Thank God! He turned to the nurse, looked at the tiny bundle she held in her arms.
A minute face, still lobster tinted, nestling in the wrapper. A boy? Yes. Barclay, Junior, doubled an infinitesimal fist and most distinctly made a pass at his daddy. Exactly one year from that day, Doctor Barclay and his wife might have been seen entering a sports goods store, where the doctor, to his wife’s dismay, proceeded to order an astounding assortment of footballs, hockey sticks, skates, baseball gloves, tennis racquets, boxing gloves and so on.
“By George!” breathed Sam.
“But Sam, dear,” protested Mrs. Barclay in an undertone, ‘‘don't be silly. He can’t use all that. Why, the child’s only one year—”
“He can sleep with ’em,” responded her husband grimly. “He’s got to get used to them.”
'""PWENTY-THREE years later Doctor Barclay and his wife might have been seen entering the little old city of Kingston. There was a light in their eyes and a glow in their hearts, for this was a great day for them. A great day for Kingston, too.
This was the day of the much-heralded Queen’sVarsity football game, on which hung one championship and a thousand hopes and fears. The last game of the season, and, according to the dopesters, it was to be a titanic struggle.
McGill, fielding the weakest team in years, had been eliminated long since. Western had shown surprising strength, catching the great Varsity machine napping once, only to lose twice to Queen’s, which let them out. And then the youthful Tricolor team, either through stage fright or overconfidence, had curled up and died before fourteen thousand people in the big Toronto stadium. Their first defeat of the season, and it placed Varsity on even terms, each having lost once.
Today was to see the return engagement—the great game for which Doctor Barclay had closed shop and brought his wife along.
Over the campus hung that intangible, indescribable holiday atmosphere that pervades a college on football days. Queen’s that day was a world apart, a higher plane, to which all things other than football were of negligible importance.
Students who could afford to slope lectures gathered in low-voiced knots here and there around the college grounds. They smoked heavily, cocked weather-wise eyes toward the sky, confirmed and denied rumors that Hartstone couldn’t play on account of a turned ankle, and for the tenth time wandered off to inspect the condition of the turf in the stadium. In the lecture rooms, professors talked listlessly and hopelessly to rows of wooden-headed dolts. Students near windows craned their necks to see groups of \ arsity men and women trip by, decked with flowing blue and white, laughing, confident, carefree. They eyed these visitors with a certain tolerant condescension; were they not to be soundly trounced that afternoon?
Through all this a quiet, unobtrusive couple wandered; the man the most pathetic sight ever seen on a campus—the old grad.
Two o’clock, and all roads led to the stadium. Motor cars in droves, hooting and tooting, snorting and humming, all jockeying for position in the parking
areas. Along Union Street the Queen’s band blared its way, leading a long procession of student rooters, a procession that snake-danced, scuffled, cavorted, and did everything but behave itself as a procession should. When it arrived at the gates there was a donnybrook, spirited but goodnatured, to get within. They poured through, and the rooters’ section was filled.
Hustling, white-trousered cheer leaders hurried about before the bleacher sections, bawling instructions through megaphones, putting the rooters through their paces. The women students, gay with colors and chrysanthemums, were a splash of color against their sombre male background. But they were not less exuberant. Confidence and contagious enthusiasm reigned in those long bleacher rows.
Across the field, in the big grandstand, the crowd was just as jolly, if less restive. The ushers were kept hopping, piloting parties to their chairs and dashing back for more. Great good humor in the stands. Rugs unfolded, tucked about knees. Hands waved; greetings called. Jokes shouted about, everybody laughing. Everybody happy. A football crowd.
Down in front, third row, centre section, sat a quiet couple. The man was an unobtrusive sort of fellow; his wife was a shy little woman. She seemed just a little bewildered, pressing close against the man at her side, unconsciously perhaps. The gentleman was getting elderly; his hair was greying a trifle at the temples. He was an alumnus, that fellow. That was Sam Barclay, Class of Medicine 1906, back for the big game.
A cheer broke out in the bleacher sections. The Varsity team was taking the field. They broke from the doorway under the grandstand and scattered over the immaculate turf. Flashing blue and white legs, padded shorts, bright sweaters and glistening helmets. New yellow footballs, thudding off husky toes, spiralling and turning high in the sunlight, to be caught finally in dextrous arms.
Linemen springing quickly in and out of practice formations; rear-guard men trying the wind with long punts.
And up in the stands, the Varsity rooters’ contingent shouting a frantic welcome.
A heavy, sturdy team, this Varsity machine, and yet fast. Efficiency and confidence were visible in every movement; every smoothly-working formation showed the perfection of skill and stern training. These men were here to win today. They were out to trounce Queen’s in her own back yard. They had the material, the experience, and the confidence. It was going to be done.
Now a frenzied roar from every section of the stadium.
The Queen’s team. There they came, resplendent in tricolor, single file, full across the field before turning to trot side by side, passing the ball laterally, before the crowds. Full across the field, trotting to the sweet praise of thousands of throats.
And they were led, of course, by their captain—Bob Barclay himself. Barclay, Class of Medicine 1931, captain and quarterback of his team, generally acknowledged to be the greatest field general in Canada. A great boy, that Barclay. Starred on the hockey team, he did, and held a substitute’s place on the basketball squad. An all-round athlete, and the idol of every Queen’s man. And withal, a good student.
Now he led his team, trotted out before them to do battle with the invincible Varsity machine.
Up in the stands, the quiet little woman was straining forward eagerly in her chair. Her eyes were starry.
“Isn’t that him? Sam! Out there in front! Isn’t it?”
And Sam Barclay, opening his mouth to speak, found a lump in his throat. He couldn’t speak. He groped for his wife’s hand under the rug, held it. For a moment, the field and the players were blurred and misty before his eyes.
Uî ARCLAY led his youngsters to the south end of the field, there to snap them through a few formations and limber them up. A grim-looking lot, these kids. Their faces were stern, their jaws set. They knew they were up against it. They had a wholesome respect for this confident, colorful aggregation in blue and white at the other end of the field, and they showed it by carefully refraining from looking in that direction.
And now the ball was centred, up-ended in mid-field. Queen’s, defending the south end, were drawn up in their own territory; the Varsity team faced them. An instant of silence: A single note from the band. Then the opening bar of God Save the King.
Down on the field, twenty-two helmeted figures, the cream of the country’s young manhood, still as statues. Up in the stands, a mighty crowd, male heads bared, standing at attention. Over all the golden October sunlight, and the simple strains of the anthem. All in tribute to something greater than a great game.
The last note faded to silence. There was a roar from the rooters’ sections, a creaking of benches under resumed loads, the shrill of a whistle, running feet, u thud. The game!
Varsity kicked off, a low, lobbing ball that went deep into Queen’s territory before Hartstone nailed it twenty yards out. He ran it back ten yards before he was pulled down. Queen’s ball on their thirty-yard line, and they didn’t go behind that line during the game.
Barclay, the quarterback, was quick to get his men on the ball. He stood easily, just behind his centre man, his hand resting on the crouching man's back, his crisp, decisive voice barking signals. A picturesque field general, this.
“Twenty-nine! Forty-four! Eighteen!”
Here he made an instant’s pause.
Now swift, smooth shifts in the Queen's formation.
“One! Two! Three!”
The ball was snapped. Barclay snatched it, thrust it into the stomach of a sturdy middle winger. The man hit the line; there was the dull, solid thud of body on body— and the man stopped. It was a simple buck through the left wing, and it made no impression whatever on the Varsity defenses. Queen’s hadn’t gained an inch.
Barclay gave them another from the right, with the same result. Right there he decided that this heavy Blue and White line was not to be penetrated in that way.
On the third down, Hartstone punted beautifully, kicking with the wind, and the play moved into the north end of the field. Varsity’s ball.
If the Blue and White line had proved impervious to straight thrusts, the Tricolor now proved that they were just as capable in that regard. Although lighter and less powerful, they were in there to fight. They had strength born of the will to win—or, at least, to avoid defeat. They held tight while Varsity battered away, forcing the enemy to kick on the third down. Five minutes later the game had assumed a humdrum aspect. Two bucks and a kick—the safe, sure tactics.
Barclay was holding his team in, evidently content to take advantage of the wind on the exchange of punts, and to wait for the breaks. And he was canny. He was giving his youngsters time to overcome their stage fright, to strike their stride. Also, he was studying that Blue and White line, testing it, watching for points of weakness in the immovable wall.
The Varsity squad, meanwhile, looked just a little bewildered. It was evident that they had intended to push their way through by sheer force. Instead, they were met by a grim-lipped bunch of lads who hurled them back, as much by force of will as by brawn. That Queen’s quarterback, moreover, seemed to have an uncanny knack of foretelling their plays, and of getting his men in the right place at the right time. Obviously, the Varsity pivot man settled down to play a waiting game, content to let the Tricolor team wear itself out in battering his inflexible line.
So, for fifteen minutes, the game see-sawed back and forth across mid-field, devoid of excitement, giving the fans little to cheer for.
At quarter time the teams changed ends, and Queen’s found themselves in possession on their forty-yard line, and now they were facing the wind.
'T'HEN, suddenly, a new note came into Barclay’s voice; in his first signal there was the ring of undeniable command, of indomitable, all-conquering force of will.By his tones alone he whipped and lashed his men.
And they responded eagerly; they pricked up their ears and dug in their toes. The whole Queen’s team became suddenly electrified, bursting with pent-up energy, rearing to go.
On the first down, the Tricolor uncorked the most beautiful play in Canadian football—the end run. The front line extended rapidly to the left; the ball was snapped high and clear into the arms of Hartstone; the speedy back streaked away across the field, accompanied by two running mates. As he was tackled he passed the ball, and its receiver found himself opposite a hole big as a barn door. Before he was pulled down he had covered twenty yards, the first gain of the game. The stands had plenty to cheer for now.
That play opened an onslaught on the Varsity citadel that left the enemy gasping.
Barclay abandoned the tight game; he snapped his men through extension plays, end runs, fake kick formations. He played the wide-open, spectacular brand of football—a joy to behold. The light, speedy Queen’s team ran their sturdy opponents ragged for twelve minutes. They slipped around the ends for gains, trickled through holes made by trick plays for gains, took breathtaking chances in passing for gains. They did everything but score.
At the goal line, they were outlucked.
Five times in ten minutes they found themselves a few yards out, faced by the snarling, surly Blue and White, with a golden opportunity to score. And, just as often, they failed to deliver the goodis. It was not that they lacked the punch; merely that
things went wrong at the critical moment. Perhaps the Varsity men would guess right for once, and be there to meet them. Or somebody would gum up a play. The score of bad breaks that may happen occurred at the wrong moment.
The stands were in a frenzy. Protests against this brand of luck came in a continuous roar from the bleacher sections. Here was the team they loved, playing winning football, but unable to score. Rooters were mad with exasperation.
Barclay the quarterback, down on the field, was in a similar condition, but he controlled himself, used his seething impatience to advantage in driving his team.
It was close to half time; he had to have a score before then. This jinx had to be broken; he had to get the hard-luck idea out of his men’s heads.
With two minutes to go until half time, it looked as if he was to succeed. Queen’s was in possession twenty yards out, and well over on the right side of the field. The Varsity men were thoroughly tuckered from the speedy play, and a snappy end run would probably get around them.
It started off beautifully. Barclay got the play off smoothly, his backfielders streaking off in perfect formation to the left, Hartstone carrying the ball. It was going to work. Hartstone at the outside Varsity wing man now; he was tackled; he passed to young Brown, who had only to scamper across. And Brown dropped the ball !
Barclay, speeding along with the play in anticipation of just such an emergency as this, fell upon it.
Well, if they couldn’t score a touchdown, perhaps they could kick a drop from fifteen yards out.
He got his men on the ball, abused them sincerely, barked his signals savagely. Hartstone received a perfect snap, was given perfect protection, and the ball rose in a perfect arc from his educated toe. Leisurely it went up until it—struck the crossbar and bounded back into the field. Varsity recovered.
A tough blow for Queen’s, but it saved the moment for the Blue and White. The Varsity quarter fairly oozed relief.
While his burly men arranged themselves, he glanced at the timekeeper, who was holding up one finger. One minute until half time. For the first time that day, he tried a trick play himself.
"Eighteen! Thirty-six! Forty-one! Twenty-two!”
Barclay, keen as a hawk, saw the enemy forming up for a regulation buck through right wing.
“Hike! One! Two! Three!”
There was the Blue and White middle winger, coming like a cyclone, hands outstretched for the ball. There
was the Varsity quarter ready for him, crouched, waiting to thrust it into his arms. The Tricolor shifted swiftly to meet the threat.
And then the Varsity general whirled like a flash and passed the ball laterally to an unnoticed man on the short end.
“The short end! The short end !”
But his men were too slow. Barclay broke up the play himself.
A wicked flying tackle, and he had the runner literally by the shoelaces. He hung on like a leech, and they went down together, Barclay underneath. Other Tricolor men piled on unnecessarily.
As they picked themselves up the half-time whistle trilled. The game half over, and no score.
Leisurely the little pile of men sorted themselves out and started for the dressing rooms. But a man and woman up in the stands, watching earnestly, with their hearts in their mouths, saw that the last man—the tricolored figure under the heap—didn’t get up. He lay there, quiet and still. Barclay, the peerless quarterback, the mainspring of the Queen’s team, was hurt.
A low sound, almost a moan, ran through the crowd as the fact went home. Trainers with black bags raced out; departing players turned back, concern written on their faces. A hurried consultation over him, a signal to the bench, and stretcher bearers appeared on the run. Blimey Austin, the team’s surgeon, rose from the bench and peeled off his coat.
. AS THEY carried Bob Barclay through the doorway under the stands, a couple in the third row looked down into his unconscious face with feelings indescribable. Their son!
When the teams trotted out after half time Barclay was missing. Nor did he appear on the substitutes’ bench. Despair settled in the rooters’ sections. He was badly hurt. Their goose was cooked now.
The effect of the star quarter’s absence soon became noticeable. Young Burley, the second string pivot man, replaced him. He was a thorough-going, conscientious lad who would be good with a couple of years seasoning, but as yet he wasn’t sure of himself. His lack of confidence crept into his voice and thence to his men. And they tightened up, went back to safety first football.
Gone were all the flash and dash, the speed and verve, that had characterized their game before. Instead, a plodding, methodical game; desultory and uninteresting. The Tricolor played good steady football because they were trained to do so, but it was not the battling, winning brand. With Barclay had gone the essential spirit. The fighting force of will that led them and drove them was absent. The Queen’s team had become mediocre.
And as they wearied themselves at plunging, and wore themselves out at throwing back the Varsity thrusts, the Blue and White steamroller became more and more effective. Slowly but surely the Queen’s line was pushed back and back, rallying at times but gradually losing ground, until just before threequarter time, they found themselves backed up on their thirtyyard line. Here they rallied in sheer, grim-lipped desperation and threw back two Varsity plunges. Then the enemy backfielder, given all the time and protection he needed, dropped a beautiful field goal square between the posts. Varsity 3; Queen’s 0.
Wild delight in the Varsity rooters’ section. Black gloom over the rest of the stadium.
The teams changed ends for the last period, and Queen’s kicked off. Then began the same weary, heartbreaking process all over again. Slowly, the Tricolor began to give ground again. The Blue and White had started another irresistible march on the Queen’s citadel.
Up in the stands, a grey-haired alumnus could stand it no longer. He rose and made his way miserably downstairs, where he searched until he discovered the Queen’s dressing room. At the doorway, he paused. His eyes brimmed and his throat closed. For there, sitting alone, disconsolate, on a bench, was his son. The lad’s head, swathed in bandages, drooped hopelessly, supported by his hands.
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The Captain’s Dad
Continued from page 16
The young man looked up slowly at the sound of footsteps on the concrete floor. “Hullo, dad,” he said, dully.
He went back to studying the floor. Sam Barclay found himself unable to speak. He came close and laid a kindly hand on the lad’s shoulder.
He mastered himself.
“How do you feel, son?”
“Not bad, considering. It’s my head. The doctor says I can’t go back.” Another silence.
“What’s the score, dad?”
“For Varsity, I suppose.”
“How much time left?”
“Three or four minutes, I guess,” Sam gulped. “Maybe less.”
Silence again. There was nothing to say. That hand on his shoulder surprised Bob. Such things were rare between the two. The old man must be rather cut up about it.
And then, on his own hand, fell a hot tear. It seared him. He leaped to his feet. “Dad!”
His father swallowed and turned away. “Dad! What is it?”
“Nothing, son. I—I guess I’m an old fool, that’s all.”
Bob snatched his father’s shoulders, whirled him around, forced the older man to look at him.
“Tell me, pop!” Years since he had used that expression.
Sam gulped and brushed his hand across his eyes. He had to speak.
“Well, I—we—your mother and I were—kind of hoping you’d—be out there to—to win at the end—Bob.”
Bob Barclay, still holding his father’s shoulders, suddenly looked away with unseeing eyes. In a flash it all came to him—the years of careful coaching in all sports when he was a child, and after that the intense interest his father had taken in all his athletic ventures. And this, which was to have been the climax of all that, now was spoiled.
He looked again at the grey head bent before him, tears suspiciously close to his own eyes. Then, giving his father an affectionate little shake, he dropped his hands and sped from the room.
Outside at the bench now, standing before the disconsolate coach.
“How much time?” he snapped. “About two minutes. And the score’s three, nothing—for Varsity, if you want to know.”
“I’m going in.”
“The doctor says—”
“I don’t care a hoot what the doctor says !”
He snatched a helmet from the bench and raced along the sidelines to the play. But the helmet wouldn’t go on over the bandages; he flung it impatiently aside. On the next down he suddenly appeared behind his men, and with a gesture sent the relieved Burley scooting for the bench.
In the stands, along the bleachers, a low, incredulous murmur began. It grew and swelled to a roar, a delirious paean of thanksgiving. Barclay was back !
As yet, the wearied, battered Tricolor men didn’t know what it was all about. They heard it, but they were too listless to look around. And then a voice barked behind them—a voice that startled them, electrified them.
'“FIRED heads snapped up. Startled eyes peered back over bruised shoulders. There stood their captain, eyes gleaming darkly in a pale, set face under white bandages, irresistible in their command to fight.
The tricolored men grinned and dug in their toes.
It was Varsity’s ball, and Varsity had pushed Queen’s back to the thirty-five yard line. The steam-roller was functioning superbly now; they wanted another score.
The Blue and White pivot man, not interested in the bandaged head before him, had another play going; a huge wing man coming with terrific force through his right wing. And then something happened. In some miraculous fashion, a bandaged figure appeared, ran right through the Varsity defense, nailed the runner and threw him viciously for a loss. The Queen’s man sprang up, first on his feet.
The Blue and White tried a criss-cross buck, a highly perfected play of theirs, and once again the Queen’s quarter guessed it, struck unerringly, and broke it up.
One more Varsity down. Would they kick?
The Blue and White quarterback looked over the situation deliberately. Visibly, he made a decision.
“Eighteen! Thirty-six! Forty-one! Twenty-two !”
Bob Barclay started. That signal was familiar. The fake buck and the long pass. The one he had nailed before ! Well, if had done it once—
“Hike! One! Two! Three!”
There came the fake plunger. There was the quarterback, tense, evidently ready to hand him the ball. And then he whirled and passed the ball to where the wing man should have been waiting. It thudded into the arms of—Bob Barclay.
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Coniinued from page 54
He hurtled away, head down, the ball cuddled in the crook of his arm.
Nobody could catch the fleet Barclay. Was he not the outstanding sprinter at Queen’s? Up the side of the field he flashed, whipping before the packed grandstand, where a frantic, milling throng cheered him, on toward the distant Varsity goal. His feet skimmed the turf; he flew, the Varsity backs lumbering hopelessly in the rear. His own team-mates, too, were left behind. Bob Barclay was alone, winning singlehanded for Queen’s.
A few crowded, tense seconds. The stands suddenly were hushed, motionless. They saw the bandaged head suddenly falter; they saw his knees begin to sag under him. His burst of false strength was waning.
Only a few more yards, but it looked like a mile. More and more slowly went the runner; closer and closer came the pursuing Blue and White. The boy was staggering now. Frantically, he looked over his shoulder for someone to whom to pass the ball. There was nobody.
Had to go it alone. Hard, though. Funny how a fellow got so tired. The ball was heavy. Couldn’t be much farther. Couldn’t do it, anyway. Too bad. Everybody’d be disappointed. Dad would be watching . . .
Bob made a final, despairing lunge and fell unconscious on the ball—across the Varsity line.
The final whistle blew just then, but nobody heard it. The stands had gone mad, insane with delight.
“Barclay! BARclay! BARCLAY!”
Up on the scoreboard flashed a new sign:
Queen’s 5; Varsity 3 Game Over
Up in the stands, tears ran down a man’s cheeks and he was unashamed.