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!