As at Melbourne, a voice from the public address system explained the unfamiliar action. "What they go into a huddle for is to determine the strategy of the next play.... The London Rockets have two more downs to pick up 13 yards. If they do so, they get another four downs."
In general, the British spectators did not agree with the posters' claim that football was fast and exciting. A common complaint was: "Too slow—too many stoppages." But there were those who got the point, stoppages and all. "It's rather like our Rugby," they said. "And probably tougher."
Half time was perhaps the most fun to the British. They liked the stunts of the card section (made up of 300 teen-agers, the children of Air Force personnel who attend a dependents' high school near Teddington). And the jazz music and complex marching patterns of the 751st Air Force Band made them reluctant to queue up for the hot dogs.
There was one young man down on the field who was clearly a hero, even to the least knowing. Tony Small, a 24-year-old fullback from Longview, Texas, contributed four touchdowns to the final score: London 32, Wiesbaden 7. On the first of these, Small made a flying leap, intercepted a Wiesbaden pass and tore off a tremendous run. That message almost got through. While the Americans in the stands went wild, a tweed-clad English gentleman leaped to his feet and removed his pipe from his mouth in sheer excitement. "Oh ho," he said, and sat down.
In theory, the ideal competitor in the military pentathlon would be the leading man of a Franz Lehar operetta, and the perfect setting would be Ruritania, circa 1905. For this event was designed to test the beautiful skills that a soldier needed in the days of spurs and swords: running, riding, fencing, swimming and shooting.
Two gold medals are offered in the pentathlon—one to the best all-round individual and one to the team (three men) with the highest score. At Melbourne the Russians considered these facts, plus the grim fact that their delegation has proved to be merely the biggest, not the best, Olympic team. Then they added a sixth military skill to the pentathlon: strategy.
It was clear that they had about equal chances at both medals, but no shoo-in for either. Their own Konstantin Salnikov won the world pentathlon championship in Switzerland last year, but now he would be up against Lars Hall of Sweden. Hall took the individual medal at Helsinki in 1952 and was expected to take it again at Melbourne. So the Russians killed their chance at one victory in order to better their chance at the other: they axed Salnikov, their best all-round man. In his place they put Ivan Deriuguine, a powerful youngster who rides, fences and shoots badly but swims and runs very well. And so, with a chance to finish well up in each of the five events and with Salnikov hurt and bitter at being dumped, the Russians waded in.
It was heavy going at first. The Americans George Lambert and Jack Daniels took first and second place in the 5,000-meter riding event and nailed up a 560-point lead. Sweden, Finland and Hungary made the competition heavy and hard. But the Russian team gained 185 points on the Americans in fencing and 20 more in shooting. Then young Ivan Deriuguine had a chance to shine in his specialties.
He flashed through the 300-meter swim in a world-record pentathlon time of 3.46. And in the final event, a two-and-a-half-mile run, he and his hard-conditioned teammates finished third, fourth and fifth. They stood around casually recovering their breaths as the Americans (and many others as well) struggled to the finish and collapsed into the arms of teammates. The American margin was gone: Russia won the gold medal for team competition, America the silver one. George Lambert shook off his teammates and stood exhausted on his own two feet. "We were supposed to be tough," he gasped, "but they were tougher."