Matches shall be played over three unequal periods: two playtimes and a
lunchtime. Each of these periods shall begin shortly
after the ringing of a bell, and although a bell is
also rung towards the end of these periods, play may continue for up to
ten minutes afterwards, depending on the nihilism or "bottle" of the
participants with regard to corporal punishment meted out to latecomers
back to the classroom.
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).
The object is to force the ball between two large, unkempt piles of
jackets, in lieu of goalposts. These piles may grow or shrink throughout
the match, depending on the number of participants and the prevailing
weather. As the number of players increases, so shall the piles. Each
jacket added to the pile by a new addition to a side should be placed on
the inside, nearest the goalkeeper, thus reducing the target area. It is
also important that the sleeve of one of the jackets should jut out across
the goalmouth, as it will often be claimed that the ball went "over the
post" and it can henceforth be asserted that the outstretched sleeve
denotes the innermost part of the pile and thus the inside of the post.
The on-going reduction of the size of the goal is the responsibility of
any respectable defence and should be undertaken conscientiously with
resourcefulness and imagination. In the absence of a crossbar, the upper
limit of the target area is observed as being slightly above head height,
although when the height at which a ball passed between the jackets is in
dispute, judgment shall lie with an arbitrary
adjudicator from one of the sides. He is known as the "best fighter"; his
decision is final and may be enforced with physical violence
if anyone wants to stretch a point.
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.
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.
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
There are a variety of types of ball approved for Primary School Football.
The following three notable examples are described.
1. The plastic balloon. An extremely lightweight model, used primarily in
the early part of the season and seldom after that due to having burst.
Identifiable by blue pentagonal paneling and the names of that year's
Premier League sides printed all over it.
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
2. The rough-finish Mitre. Half football, half Portuguese Man o' War. On
the verge of a ban in the European Court of Human Rights, this model is
not for sale to children. Used exclusively by teachers during gym classes
as a kind of aversion therapy. Made from highly durable fibre-glass,
stuffed with neutron star and coated with dead jellyfish.
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,
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.
There is no offside, for two reasons: one, "it's no' a full-size pitch",
and two, none of the players actually know what offside is.
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.
The absence of a referee means that disputes must be resolved between the
opposing teams rather than decided by an arbiter.
are two accepted ways of doing this.
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
2. Fighting. Those up on their ancient Hellenic politics
will understand that the concept we know as "justice" rests in these
circumstances with the hand of the strong. What the winner says, goes, and
what the winner says is just, for who shall dispute him? It is by such
noble philosophical principles that the supreme adjudicator, or Best
Fighter, is effectively elected.
To ensure a fair and balanced contest, teams are selected democratically
in a turns-about picking process, with either side beginning as a one-man
selection committee and growing from there.
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.
Playground football tactics are best explained in terms of team formation.
Whereas senior sides tend to choose - according to
circumstance - from among a number of standard options (e.g., 4-4-2,
4-3-3, 5-3-2), the playground side is usually more rigid in sticking to
the all-purpose 1-1-17 formation. This formation is a sturdy basis for the
unique style of play, ball-flow and territorial give-and-take that makes
the playground game such a renowned and strategically engrossing
spectacle. Just as the 5-3-2 formation is sometimes referred to in
practice as "Cattenaccio", the 1-1-17 formation gives rise to a style of
play that is best described as "Nomadic". All but perhaps four of
participants (see also Offside) migrate en masse from one area of the
pitch to another, following the ball, and it is tactically vital that
every last one of them remains within a ten-yard radius of it at all
Much stoppage time in the senior game is down to injured players requiring
treatment on the field of play. The playground game flows freer having
adopted the refereeing philosophy of "no Post-Mortem, no free-kick", and
play will continue around and even on top of a participant who has fallen
in the course of his endeavours. However, the playground game is
nonetheless subject to other interruptions, and some examples are listed
1. Ball on school roof or over school wall. The retrieval time
itself is negligible in these cases. The stoppage is most prolonged by the
argument to decide which player must risk life, limb or four of the belt
to scale the drainpipe or negotiate the barbed wire in order to return the
ball to play. Disputes usually arise between the player who actually
struck the ball and any others he claims it may have struck before
disappearing into forbidden territory. In the case of the Best Fighter
having been adjudged responsible for such an incident, a volunteer is
often required to go in his stead or the game may be abandoned, as the
Best Fighter is entitled to observe that A: "Ye canny make me"; or B:
"It's no' ma baw anyway".
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.
3. Bigger boys steal ball. A highly irritating interruption, the
length of which is determined by the players' experience in dealing with
this sort of
thing. The intruders will seldom actually steal the ball, but will
improvise their own kickabout amongst themselves, occasionally inviting
the younger players to attempt to tackle them. Standing around looking
bored and unimpressed usually results in a quick restart. Shows
frustration and engaging in attempts to win back the ball can prolong the
stoppage indefinitely. Informing the intruders that one of the
players' older brother is "Mad Chic Murphy" or some other noted local
pugilist can also ensure minimum delay.
4. Menopausal old bag confiscates ball. More of a threat in
the street or local green kickabout than within the school walls. Sad,
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.
Goal-scorers are entitled to a maximum run of thirty yards with their
hands in the air, making crowd noises and saluting imaginary
packed terraces. Congratulation by teammates is in the measure appropriate
to the importance of the goal in view of the current scoreline (for
instance, making it 34-12 does not entitle the player to drop to his knees
and make the sign of the cross), and the extent of the scorer's
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.
At senior level, each side often has one appointed penalty-taker, who will
defer to a team-mate in special circumstances, such as
his requiring one more for a hat-trick. The playground side has two
appointed penalty-takers: the Best Player and the Best Fighter. The
arrangement is simple: the Best Player takes the penalties when his side
is a retrievable margin behind, and the Best Fighter at all other times.
If the side is comfortably in front, the ball-owner may be invited to take
a penalty. Goalkeepers are often the subject of temporary
substitutions at penalties,
forced to give up their position to the Best Player or Best Fighter, who
recognise the kudos attached to the heroic act of saving one of these
kicks, and are buggered if "Wee Titch" is going to steal any of it.
This is known also as the Summer Holidays, which the players usually spend
dabbling briefly in other sports: tennis for a fortnight while Wimbledon
is on the telly; pitch-and-putt for four days during the Open; and cricket
for about an hour and a half until they discover that it
really is as boring to play
as it is to watch.
Ohio Youth Soccer Association North