Almanac (Backyard ISO) Games: I’ve Found a Winner

My career on hold having bowed my head to Dictator Dan’s supreme direction that we purveyors of real estate are no longer essential, my heart and mind waning as I come to grips with the fact I am not required in this small economy, my borders shrunk to 5 km and not even a passport will allow me to pass, oh for the yellow card of cholera in years past.


So the  isolated  team of three,  eldest daughter having escaped some time ago and  unless you count Chase the 6 year old kelpie who’s ballcentric and sees nothing else, and maybe the possum or two that seem to have taken lodgings in the roof, search the numerous rooms that have taken on their own museum like qualities, full of stuff, once possessions, now just stuff gathering dust and looking like those forlorn smudged glass cases sprinkled in ancient dust with moth-eaten stuffed birds in the Russell Street Melbourne Museum.


But oh what joy – the hours of tedium broken when we discover a steamer truck stored in trust having been passed down the generations of the Earl clan – we pry the lid free and sneeze in anticipation (no need for a covid test I can still taste and even smell the the wine when I open it at least, hold my breath a second and don’t suffer anything more than a morning headache) … discover  parchment paper within a reeded scroll.  An ancient game ……….


With gloved hands we unfurl the brittle and yellowed parchment and …


“The distance between the goals and the goal posts shall be decided upon by the captains of the sides playing.


The captains on each side shall toss for the choice of Goal, the side losing the toss has the kick off from the centre point between the goals.”


It goes on to describe some other interesting features  where …


“Each team will have 18 players with 2 in reserve and each shall start in a designated position known as full forward, half forward, centre, half back and full back.


The transition of the ball is by hand or foot. If by hand it must be held in the palm of one hand and dispatched by the other clenched fist by striking the butt of the ball from the palm of the other, it cannot be slapped or thrown.


If by foot then  it must be dropped from hand and struck by foot – either foot is acceptable and those wanting to become adept at the game should be able to both kick and hand pass on either side.


You can mark (catch) the ball which must be from a kick that has travelled 10m, has not been touched in flight and has not bounced on the ground. You may then stop the game whilst you make your decision on the restart of the game.


If the ball is in play – meaning not being thrown up when the game has stopped for a score, or the umpire awarding a free kick ( an umpire shall be clad in white and adjudicate the game impartially and only be heard when either stopping the game, awarding a free kick or signalling a mark. He shall use a whistle to signify his interruption of the game and use hand signals in making the decision) a player possessing the ball may be tackled between shoulder and waist and if not surrendering the ball by hand or foot shall forfeit the ball to the opposition as a free kick.


A player may shepherd an opposition player not more than 5m from the ball and must never push an opposition player in the back.


The object of the game is to kick the ball between 4 goal posts to score. The taller of the two central and spaced 6.4m apart and the smaller  a further 6.4m either side of the larger posts. Six points shall be scored by an unotuched kick going through the larger posts and a minor score of 1 point  if touched or having gone through between one of the taller and smaller posts.


The team with the highest score shall win the game.”


We assume the game must’ve been created by the the French given the reference to metrics and there’s no reference to the type of ball but we experiment and determine that the shape of a rugby ball is best suited to the hand pass and a series of kicks can be designed using this shape as opposed to a round ball.


So the goals are set on a miniature scale in the backyard and we take, son and wife on one side and Chase and I the other  I reckon he’s got the best ball skills) … the possums take up the goals in the trees. Teams are taken from surrounding suburbs Collingwood and Fitzroy, the players of each team from street names  then we pretend to kick and hand pass and score goals, champions in , Bedford, Alexander, Brown, Francis, John, Mason, Palmer and Robert star for Collingwood  (the Woods) whilst Albert, Bell, Charles, Eades, Graham, James , Rose, Wood and Young stand out for Fitzroy (the Roys)


Exhausted some two hours later we imbibe with a beverage named after another famous player/ street in Beer. And Chase is awarded dog of the match.


Good luck folks I reckon if you all take to the streets and the backyard it may catch on




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A Fitzroy resident keen on local content sports and the offbeat. Community first, after the good family of course.

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