primary school football (soccer) - the rules of the game
In practice there is a sliding scale of nihilism, from those who hasten to stand in line as soon as the bell rings, through those who will hang on until the time they estimate it takes the teachers to down the last of their G &T's and journey from the staffroom, known as "chancers", and finally to those who will hang on until a teacher actually has to physically retrieve them, known as "bampots". This sliding scale is intended to radically alter the logistics of a match in progress, often having dramatic effects on the scoreline as the number of remaining participants drops. It is important, therefore, in picking the sides, to achieve a fair balance of poofs, chancers and bampots in order that the scoreline achieved over a sustained period of play - a lunchtime, for instance - is not totally nullified by a five-minute post-bell onslaught of five bampots against one. The scoreline, to be carried over from the previous period of the match, is in the trust of the last bampots to leave the field of play, and may be the matter of some debate. This must be resolved in one of the approved manners (see Adjudication).
There are no pitch markings. Instead, physical objects denote the boundaries, ranging from the most common - walls and buildings - to roads or burns. Corners and throw-ins are redundant where bylines or touchlines are denoted by a two-storey building or a six-foot granite wall; instead, a scrum should be instigated to decide possession. This should begin with the ball trapped between the brickwork and two opposing players and should escalate to include as many team members as can get there before the now egg-shaped ball finally emerges, often with a dismembered foot and shin attached. At this point, goalkeepers should look out for the player who takes possession of the escaped ball and begins bearing down on goal, as most of those involved in the scrum will be unaware that the ball is no longer amidst their feet. The goalkeeper should also try not to be distracted by the inevitable fighting that has by this point broken out.
In games on large open spaces, the length of the pitch is obviously denoted by the jacket piles, but the width is a variable. In the absence of roads, water hazards etc, the width is determined by how far out the attacking winger has to meander before the pursuing defender gets fed up and heads back towards where the rest of the players are waiting, often as far as quarter of a mile away.
It is often observed that the playing area is "no' a full-size pitch". This can be invoked verbally to justify placing a wall of players eighteen inches from the ball at direct free kicks It is the formal response to "yards", which the kick-taker will incant meaninglessly as he places the ball.
Advantages: low sting factor, low burst-nose probability, cheap, discourages a long-ball game.
Disadvantages: over-susceptible to influence of the wind,
difficult to control, almost magnetically drawn to flat school roofs
Advantages: looks quite grown up, makes for high-scoring matches (keepers won't even attempt to catch it).
Disadvantages: scars or maims anything it touches.
3. The "Tubey". Genuine leather ball, identifiable by brown all-over colouring. Was once black and white, before ravages of games on concrete, but owners can never remember when. Adored by everybody, especially keepers.
Advantages: feels good, easily controlled, makes a satisfying "whump" noise when you kick it.
Disadvantages: turns into medicine ball when wet, smells
like a dead dog.
The lack of an offside rule gives rise to a unique sub-division of strikers. These players hang around the opposing goalmouth while play carries on at the other end, awaiting a long pass forward out of defence which they can help past the keeper before running the entire length of the pitch with their arms in the air to greet utterly imaginary adulation. These are known variously as "poachers", "gloryhunters" and "fly wee bastards". These players display a remarkable degree of self-security, seemingly happy in their own appraisals of their achievements, and caring little for their teammates' failure to appreciate the contribution they have made. They know that it can be for nothing other than their enviable goal tallies that they are so bitterly despised.
1.Compromise. An arrangement is devised that is found acceptable by both
sides. Sway is usually given to an action that is in
accordance with the spirit of competition, ensuring that the game does not
turn into "a pure skoosh". For example, in the event of a dispute as to
whether the ball in fact crossed the line, or whether the ball has gone
inside or "over" the post, the attacking side may offer the ultimatum:
"Penalty or goal." It is not recorded whether any side has ever opted for
the latter. It is on occasions that such arrangements or ultimatum do not
prove acceptable to both sides that the second adjudicatory method comes
The initial selectors are usually the recognised two Best Players of the assembled group. Their first selections will be the two recognised Best Fighters, to ensure a fair balance in the adjudication process, and to ensure that they don't have their own performances impaired throughout the match by profusely bleeding noses. They will then proceed to pick teammates in a roughly meritocratic order, selecting on grounds of skill and tactical awareness, but not forgetting that while there is a sliding scale of players' ability, there is also a sliding scale of players' brutality and propensities towards motiveless violence. A selecting captain might baffle a talented striker by picking the less nimble Big Jazza ahead of him, and may explain, perhaps in the words of Linden B Johnson upon his retention of J. Edgar Hoover as the head of the FBI, that he'd "rather have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in".
Special consideration is also given during the selection process to the owner of the ball. It is tacitly knowledged to be "his gemme", and he must be shown a degree of politeness for fear that he takes the huff at being picked late and withdraws his favours.
Another aspect of team selection that may confuse those
only familiar with the game at senior level will be the choice of
goalkeepers, who will inevitably be the last players to be picked. Unlike
in the senior game, where the goalkeeper is often the tallest member of
his team, in the playground, the goalkeeper is usually the smallest.
Senior aficionados must appreciate that playground selectors have a
different agenda and are looking for altogether different properties in a
goalkeeper. These can be listed briefly as: compliance, poor fighting
ability, meekness, fear and anything else that makes it easier for their
team-mates to banish the wee bugger between the sticks while they go off
in search of personal glory up the other end.
2. Stray dog on pitch. An interruption of unpredictable
duration. The dog does not have to make off with the ball, it merely has
to run around barking loudly, snarling and occasionally drooling or
foaming at the mouth. This will ensure a dramatic reduction in the number
of playing staff as 27 of them simultaneously volunteer to go indoors and
inform the teacher of the threat. The length of the interruption can
sometimes be gauged by the breed of dog. A deranged Irish Setter could
take ten minutes to tire itself of running in circles, for instance, while
a Jack Russell may take up to fifteen minutes to corner and force out
through the gates. An Alsatian means instant abandonment.
4. Menopausal old bag confiscates ball. More of a threat in the street or local green kickabout than within the school walls. Sad, blue-rinsed, ill-tempered, Tory-voting cat-owner transfers her anger about the array of failures that has been her life to nine-year-olds who have committed the heinous crime of letting their ball cross her privet Line of Death. Interruption (loss of ball) is predicted to last "until you learn how to play with it properly", but instruction on how to achieve this without actually having the bloody thing is not usually forwarded. Tact is required in these circumstances, even when the return of the ball seems highly unlikely, as further irritation of woman may result in the more serious stoppage: Menopausal old bag calls police.
A fabulous solo dismantling of the defence or 25-yard* rocket shot will elicit applause and back-pats from the entire team and the more magnanimous of the opponents. However, a tap-in in the midst of a chaotic scramble will be heralded with the epithet "poachin' wee bastard" from the opposing defence amidst mild acknowledgment from teammates. NOTE* - Actually eight yards, but calculated as relative distance because "it's no' a full-size pitch".
Applying an unnecessary final touch when a ball is already rolling into the goal will elicit a burst nose from the original striker.
Kneeling down to head the ball over the line when defence and keeper are already beaten will elicit a thoroughly deserved kicking.
As a footnote, however, it should be stressed that any goal scored by the Best Fighter will be met with universal acclaim, even if it falls into any of the latter three categories.