VICTORY SIX: Gridiron Is My Middle Name

A good friend of mine was great enough to tell me his “SPARTANBURG FOOTBALL STORY”,Is what I’ve now come to associate with #THEVIKINGWAY. It’s the way us as fans get to be a part of something we love.I mean ,I hear those people cussing when they want SHS to throw more or run more,should call “this or that”,win or lose they remain…They remain because of the love it.You can be a former player,a child born into,a fan in any way you want.But us,to be however small of a part of #THEVIKINGWAY …means the love is reciprocated. I wish I knew every fans story.But this SUPERFAN..Danny aka VICTORY 6 on local message boards like Palmetto Football Talk,was kind enough to share his. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I did.

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                                                                 The Rivalry!!

Here we are Rivalry week!! To many students, players, coaches and fans, rivalries may vary depending on the age group. To me Dorman is Spartanburg’s natural rivalry dating back to when I was a student at SHS. Although some may say it’s Gaffney and I’m pretty sure the younger generation would say it’s Byrnes, Dorman has always been the Vikings cross town rivalry for years. This game between these two teams has always brought huge crowds no matter if one team is good or not. Last year contest brought over 10,000 fans, the pre-game tailgate was the largest I’ve seen in years. Just thinking of this rivalry brings back a lot of memories of how playing football for the Vikings prepared & changed me for the many challenges in life. Growing up as a kid This is my story. My parents James & Annie Byrd had eight children, Six boys two girl. I am the youngest of the boys and my two sisters are younger than me.

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My father who passed a couple of years ago worked at Drayton Mill in Beaumont until he got injured at work and was forced to retire. My mother was a maid for many different families including doctors, lawyers, etc. They worked very hard to take care of 8 children. Making sure 8 kids were fed, clothed, and sent to school would be hard on any parents. Yes you can say we were poor. Times were hard but they managed to keep us all headed in the right direction….for a while that is. Out of the six boys I was the only one who played organized sports. My brothers were never interested in playing sports they were more interested in running around the neighborhood and getting into trouble. Being the youngest boy I wanted to follow them and do the stuff they were doing which wasn’t good but they would often tell me to go home and watch my two sisters. My mother would sit us down and have long talks with us about staying out of trouble, she was more of the discipline one because my father worked long hours and when he wasn’t working he would be gone hunting with his buddies. That was another way to put food on the table. Anyhow I was the only one of the boys who would really listen to my mother. I knew if my parent worked that hard to take care of us they definitely didn’t have time to come home and punish us for misbehaving.

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Elementary sports I started playing sports in the 5th grade at Chapman Elementary when I played on the basketball team. My sister who was one year younger than I also played on the team with me. The teams back then were Co-ed so now my sister wanted to do everything I did. I won MVP of that team and that’s what got me going in sports. I played basketball & baseball the following year and the trophies started adding up. I liked the feeling of competing against other kids and then being rewarded with a trophy for my hard work. I guess competing with my brothers made it natural for me to want to compete against other kids. My first time playing football was at Cleveland Jr.in the 7th grade. I played RB and football turned out to be my passion. Running the ball and having everyone try to tackle me was fun because they couldn’t catch me. I was so used to running around that neighborhood which to this day is still called the Hill, that running through a few kids was a breeze. Playing football was awesome but unfortunately going to school and then staying after school for practice and then having to walk all the way home after practice wore me out. There were no activity bus to take me home and my parents couldn’t come pick me up because they were always working so I had to quit the team. Just like that my passion for football was gone. Little league football A week after I quit playing at Cleveland a classmate told me he played football at the center. I asked him which one and said Brotherhood. Brotherhood was the recreation center that was located just above where Vic Bailey is on the corner of Pine street in Spartanburg. It was later changed to T.K.Greg Recreation Center. So being that this center was very close to my home I went and tried out for the team. The next week I was the starting tailback. The team consists of 7th & 8th graders. Our head coach was Jessie Carter and he told me he was needing a player like me. I didn’t have to walk to and from practice anymore because he pick me up from school and took me home after practice. That first year of playing organized football made me physically & mentally tough. We played teams like Bethlehem Center AKA BC, Northwest Center, Gospel Work Shop, Fernwood-Glendale, Hillcrest, and Hillbrook. We finished the year with a 6-4 record. That season I ran a least 10 Td and probably around 1100 yards. I also played safety. After the season was over I received the best offensive player trophy at our banquet. The following year was much better, we finished 9-1 I scored at least 18 td’s and over 1200 yards. We played in the Service Bowl against BC at the old Dorman stadium. We lost that game 17 – 7 but just the experience of playing in front of such a large crowd for a country boy like me was overwhelming. I won MVP & best all around player of that team. Some known player on that team was Harold Cleveland, Cornell Bullock, Rodney Sawyer, and Chuck Cunningham just to name few. Cleveland Jr.High switched to Whitlock Jr. High in the middle of my 7th grade year. I went on to play basketball for the 8th grade team. We lost in the 3rd round of the playoffs to West Gaffney.

                                                                BECOMING A VIKING

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 My 9th grade year at Whitlock I played for the C-Team at Spartanburg High school. This was the first time I got to wear the famous Blue & Gold uniforms. Playing for the Vikings was a totally difference experience. From C-team all the way up to Varsity. Everything was very organized. The coaches were loud and aggressive. You had to do everything the right way or you would have to run the hill. Anyone who’s played for the Vikings know what running the hill was like. After playing RB my two years of center ball I decided I wanted to switch strictly to defense. Running TD’s were getting boring since I was so fast that no one could catch me. I was a very aggressive player so I wanted to see if I could stop the RB, I wanted to hit someone hard like they wanted to hit me. I was a very rough kid and the coaches use to say Byrd don’t take no prisoners. I wanted to inflict pain. I remember playing against Boiling Springs and they were punting to us, we had a punt return on and I was the last man coming around the wall. As our return man hit the corner there were a player coming straight for him but he did not see me, I hit him so hard on that crack back block that he went down and stayed down. After laying there for a while the trainers came out to assist him. Once they got him to the sideline he began to have a seizure. The game was stopped for a short time as the EMS had to come and take him to the hospital. The teams huddled together and said a prayer then the game continued. I was almost in tears for what I had done to this kid. The coaches comforted me and told me I had done nothing wrong, that was part of the game. We went on to a 9-0 record and played Gaffney in the last game of the season for the title.Learning experience ..This game taught me a lot about discipline. We actually played Gaffney the first game of that season and beat them. There wasn’t many teams in our conference so we played them the first and last game. My position was defensive end, back in those day teams pretty much ran the ball out of the I-formation or the wing –T. Defensive ends weren’t nearly the size they are today. I remember making a lot of tackles in that game and we were winning by two scores. Then after one play there were a player still trying to block me and he push me down. I got up, grabbed him and threw him to the ground. We begin to throw punches at each and the next thing you know the refs had broken us apart and sent us to our sidelines. They then told both coaches that we were ejected from the game. Next thing you know Gaffney started coming back and eventually won the game. My HC Coach Mulwee told me that Gaffney had intentionally sent a player in the game who hadn’t played the entire game just to get me out of the game and it worked. After that game I felt so bad for not holding my composure and letting the team down. I felt like I was the main reason we lost because I wasn’t there to do MY Part. That one game taught me that there will be time in your life where you just have to walk away or take the high road.
                                                                   LIFE LESSONS

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Everything I learned during my time as a student & football player at Spartanburg High School has propelled me to being a very successful person in society. Playing football was the anchor that held me down and kept me from making bad decision as a teenager. Often you see kids getting in trouble at an early age and then it follows them throughout their adult life. I encourage all kids to participate in as many school activities as possible. That could be any sport, club, etc. Trouble is very easy to get into but extremely hard to get out of. I have five children, four sons and one daughter. I also have a daughter who is not biologically mine but I have been taking care of here since she was three years old, so to me and her I am her father. She is a senior at Spartanburg high this year. All of my kids have attended SHS. The most noticeable to the football fans would be TY BYRD #10, just like his father, he also played for the Vikings. Three have graduated from college and one is in his last year of college. And one who will be in Jr. High next year. So there is where the bloodline runs in the Viking Nation……oh wait a minute, I almost forgot. There is one more addition to the Viking family. And this is why the game between Spartanburg and Dorman is such a BIG rivalry.
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                                                               Rivalry week Continues!!
I remember the week of the rivalry game with Dorman our coaches took us behind the locker room and pointed to the ground. There were three tombstones placed in a row with our best offensive players names on them. They said some Dorman kids had come over and placed them there the night before. They were sending us a message that they were going to kill our offense. Not literally kill, but you get their point. So our defense made it our priority mission to shut their offense out. That week we practiced harder than we had the entire season. Once the final seconds ticked off the clock that night at Snyder Field we had defeated Dorman 21-0. Beating Dorman is a MUST for every Viking. But now here’s the ironic part of my life, My wife T.Byrd is a Dorman graduate!! How in the world do a Viking marry a Cavalier? I don’t know the answer to that but our marriage is great. When the Vikings are playing anybody but Dorman you will see her and I wearing Vikings gear!!
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We have traveled many places to watch the Vikings play. From Crawfordville FL, to Dalton Ga, from Matthews Charlotte to Etowah Ga. We are often asked do we have a kid playing on the team and we answer no even though the Byrd bloodline run deep in Vikings Nation. The response we always get is y’all have to be some dedicated fans to travel so far and not have a kid playing. We always respond with these are ALL our kids!! For the kids who parents don’t get a chance to come watch you play just know the BYRD family is there to root you on. We you here that air horn blowing, that is us. Now the other side of this marriage gets heated for Rivalry week. When it’s time for Spartanburg and Dorman to play our home is divided. We’ve bet pay checks, meals, and anything you can imagine on this game. She has gotten more win only because when we meet Dorman was on their little winning streak but now I’m looking for my 3rd victory in a row!! This should be a good game. This week you will definitely see us wearing opposite gear in the stands…..

The Spartanburg Vikings (5-2) will travel to the “U” Dorman (5-2) this coming Friday for a region match up. Dorman is coming off a thrilling victory over Gaffney (5-2) by the score of 48-45. The Vikings had a bye week and are looking to up their region total to 2-0. Dorman is already sitting at 2-0 after defeating Boiling Springs (6-1) a week ago and Gaffney this past Friday. I think the key to victory in this game will be which defense plays the best. Both teams have good skill players but the defensive play will dictate the winner of this game. Look the Vikings defense took take control and put the Vikes in the driver’s seat in Region III 5A!!…….**!!!Go Vikings!!!**

 Spartanburg Vikings – 28

Dorman Cavaliers – 17

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