Sunday, February 15, 2009

It's only a game

For centuries the game of football was played on the fields of England’s finest schools. In 1823 Rugby School developed a game similar to football, but the players were permitted to pick up the ball and run with it. And so the game known worldwide as Rugby was invented.

In England in 1863 the Football Association was formed and the rules by which football is played today were written. Football (soccer in the US, a name formed from the word association) is the most popular game played worldwide, and the World Cup is the biggest international sporting tournament known to man.

A game similar to tennis was played widely from the 11th century in France. Its popularity spread to England and even King Henry VIII was an enthusiastic player. But in 1625 it was once again the English who laid down the rules by which it is played today. The first annual international tournament began in 1877 at Wimbledon.

Table tennis or Ping Pong was not invented by the Chinese. It was started in England in 1880 and began with Cambridge University students using cigar boxes and champagne corks.

England’s national game is of course cricket. The game as we know it today was originally played by the Marylebone Cricket Club in the 18th century. Today it is played on almost every continent.

So why have I laid out all these facts?

Well, England last won the Football World Cup in 1966.

We have only won the Rugby World cup once and that was in 2003.

Table Tennis? Forget it!

The last Wimbledon Tennis champions we saw were Fred Perry in 1936 and Virginia Wade in 1977.

As for cricket, we did win the Ashes a couple of years ago, but our record in international Test Matches is lamentable.

But there is some good news!

We invented the game of darts in the town of Grimsby way back when, and we are pretty good at that.

The Marquess of Queensbury wrote the rules for boxing in 1865, and we have had a fair few champions at most weights.

Horse racing, both on the flat and steeplechase have their origins at Newmarket in England and we have had our fair share of record beating jockeys.

We are also good at Wellie Wanging, the Pancake Race, Duck Herding, Conkers, Aunt Sally, Barrel Walking and Cheese Rolling.

My favourite English sport? Lawn Mower Racing. It’s great!


  1. Well now I would have thought ya sport would have been wine swilling!

  2. lol - I found this post very charming! I know a few Americans that would like to take you up on that lawn mower racing.... :D

  3. Wellie Wanging? Huh? Is that the same as Gumboot throwing. Pancake race, duck herding, conkers, aunt Sally what are those? Sounds like fun anyway. I have seen that cheese chasing thing on T.V. What about bog swimming/snorkelling? They have lawn mower races in Spirit lake Idaho, my blog friend told me about them. He he. Fun post Keith.

  4. Wellie wanging Is that boot throwing what they do here? And Aunt Sally sounds like a good sport to me. How does that work? ALl better than rugby which is the holy sport here.
    I've got an award waiting for you Keith

  5. When I had The Star Inn at Eynsham in Oxfordshire, we had two Aunt Sally teams. One lot would play at home as t'other played away. Absolutely great fun, I promise you.
    PS. Dickiebo always travelled with the away team as he had to 'buy the first round'!!

  6. Hi Keith, great post, what about Tiddleywinks? and didn't we invent Snooker too? Enjoyed reading this sporting post!

  7. Laughing. This is one funny piece - a little history, a lot of giggle. Lawn Mower Racing is catching on here -

  8. Only someone from Yorkshire could come up with Wellie Wanging. A simple misspelling and it is a totally different sport all together.

  9. 'We' may be good at conkers, but I seem to recall you getting a black eye last time you played and declaring it was a ridiculous sport! By the way I've still got my winning thirteener sitting undamaged waiting for next conker season.

  10. stick to the pub my friend! xo

  11. I vote for the English...I would a lot rather that I think of an idea and someone else do the work!

    Thank you for the comment on my blog. Pub songs are next!


  12. This was very interesting. I had no idea England was so creative sports-wise. I would guess that Wellie Wanging has something to do with throwing rain boots around, but I don't like to assume.

  13. one of my first boyfriends was into darts and my current has a lawn maintenance business. he tells me if he cuts more lawns quickly, he makes more money - guess he also likes lawn mower racing!

  14. your post is very inspiring and it has given me a great deal of knowledge regarding the game cricket along with some other games. i enjoyed reading it very much.

  15. Lawn mower racing - I think my hubby would go for that! Wellie Wanging--I wonder what that is. It sounds interesting. Enjoyed this post.

  16. Nice essay even so. I liked the historical run-up and that funny summary of fringe sports. I'm left wondering for those who watch, it's about winning? National identity? And what is Aunt Sally? Will you tell us?



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