by Kevin Henning
It wasn’t always “jumpers for goalposts” when we were kids and when I watch my own lads with their mates these days, I still recognise some of the games we played. All we needed was a ball and something to aim at. Here are the best games we played round our way :
Knockout / Wembley
Known as Knockout on the Ellesmere Park Estate, this popular game was referred to as Wembley elsewhere. It was the footballing equivalent of every man for himself.
The goalie would punt the ball skywards and shout “Two B’s” which meant that the ball had to bounce twice before anyone could touch it otherwise it’d be penalties all round for everyone bar the rule breaker.
If the ball was left to bounce twice, each player present would battle to score an individual goal in order to reach the next round. When all but one player had scored (usually the child with Dunlop trainers on), he would be “knocked out” (not literally, that’d be ridiculous) and the next round would commence a man light. This would continue until one player had won each round up to the final.
The winner would normally refuse a second game on the grounds that his tea was ready but it was a familiar cop out by somebody who knew they’d fluked it and didn’t fancy their chances of defending the title.
Headers & Volleys
A group of kids nominate a child of questionable ability to go in net and proceed to set each other up for volleys which would be blasted ruthlessly in the general direction of the goal. If the poor swine in net managed to catch the thunderbolt aimed at him or a volley went wide of the goal, the lad who’d taken the shot had to replace the goalie.
Although part of the name of this game, headers were rarer than an Arsenal open top bus parade. It was all about perfecting the practise of the volley. Marco Van Basten’s thunderbolt in 1988 saw the popularity of this game increase tenfold.
A simple game that required a ball and a wall. Participants took it in turns to have one touch of the ball. The aim was to hit the wall. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Wrong. Nasty little swine would try to create an angle for their shot and blast it as hard as they possibly could to create increasingly difficult shots.
You could either take your shot while the ball was still moving if you reacted quickly enough or wait until it stopped in order to compose yourself. The winner of the game would get to kick the next game off.
Almost identical to ‘Headers & Volleys’, the only difference being that the keeper had the added task of counting out a minute whilst trying to stop rockets smashed at him from the participants. The aim was to score a header or volley within the 60 seconds. If not, the last person to touch the ball would take a turn in goal. If successful, the target would be increased by a goal until an impossible target was found.
Rumours that the game was referred to as ’70 seconds’ in the Govan area of Glasgow are probably untrue.
Kick Ball Hide
Hide and Seek fused with the Beautiful Game in this glorious pastime on our avenue. Whoever was “on” would watch as the nominated kicker did his best Hotshot Hamish impersonation by trying to kick the ball onto the next estate.
While the unlucky one fagged the ball, everyone else would scarper and hide in the gardens of our lovely neighbours. We’d keep quiet and out of sight and pray for the sound of the ball being punted again whereupon a session of “Cat Crawling” would commence as we attempted to find an even better hiding place. This process could repeat itself until the early hours during the summer holidays.
Leather The Ball At The Girls
A game invented to with the aim of impressing the fairer sex who we were noticing at an ever increasing rate, ‘Leather the ball at the girls’ had the complete opposite effect.
The lads in our year would gather round in a group not dissimilar to the bunch of girls stood twenty or so yards away. Every couple of minutes, the ball would be rolled away from the group and an immediate dare would be announced by the the roller. The dare would be the straightforward task of smashing the ball at the group of girls we hoped would be sufficiently impressed enough to let us enjoy a spot of touchy feely at the next youth club disco.
Plastic cups of hot chocolate would be knocked over and toasted tea-cakes would be sent spinning through the air as our accuracy improved term after term. The downside was the ever growing delays in our sexual developments as the girls whose bones you attempted to break during the days refused to let you near them by night.