Works in the Herald 1930

The football season opens today.

'Tis many and many a long year now since first a fellow killed a cow and robbed the creature of its hide. Then, when he'd scraped the hairy side, he tanned it in a noisesome pit and made a little bag from it.

But, finding it would not hold air he wandered to a forest where there grew strange trees, and found that some contained a queer resilient gum. So, being quite a clever chap, he lined his leather bag with sap; then took a long, long breath and blew. Red in the face he puffed anew until the bag was blown up tight: a thing elusive, hard yet light, that to the slightest blow would yield. And then he flung it in a field.

A score of tribesmen gathered there beheld the object, light as air that bounced along, and, as it came: "A game!" they shouted. "Here's a game!"

One seized the thing and rushed away. (Man had discovered how to play.) He ran, he stumbled, almost fell, and after him they rushed, pell-mell (each seeking madly to secure and hold this strange elusive lure) the whole excited, yelling tribe.

'Tis hardly fitting to describe the scene that followed after that - the scene where men cursed, struggled, spat, bit, gouged, kicked, mauled and madly tore from other men the skins they wore. The scene of maimed men lying upon the ground, the sight of spent men out of breath, of battle riot, sudden death.

But all agreed, when it was o'er, they'd never had such fun before, and all agreed it closed too soon - a very pleasant afternoon.

And yet if you go down today, and hear the yells and watch the play, you'll find the prehistoric game and modern football much the same. You'll notice your subconscious rise, responding to the savage cries, until the primal man once more, uprising as he did of yore, impels you to stand up and hoot, "Yah! Tear 'em down! Put in the boot!"

And, though you blush for what you've done you can't deny it's lots of fun.

Herald, 26 April 1930, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003