|Posted on Friday, November 26, 2004 - 5:42 am: || |
Just thought you might be interested in a little more information than that in the notes on the suspects on this site. Anyway was in college myself (the house at Eton for king's (academic) scholars) which is the house in which JKStephen was in the late 19th century. The most important game of the wall game "season" is the annual St.Andrew's day collegers v oppidans (the towns people literally, basically 10 boys from the rest of the school ie non-scholars). After this match a few weeks later there is a college wall dinner in the cloisters attended by kings scholars and guests. At the end wine is passed round and each member of the team stands and says "in piam memoriam JKS" (in pious memory JKS) in recognition of his legendary status as the greatest wall game player ever. He was keeper (captain) for a few years I think, legends about him include his enormous physical strength and once him holding up the entire oppidan bully singlehanded (like holding an entire scrum on your own). Annals written by each keeper are passed on so I have read what he wrote about the game and himself while at Eton. Mainly bland stuff, not much to get excited about although might be worth trying to have a look if there are any serious enthusiasts of him as the ripper. These annals are unoffical and are passed on from captain to captain each year so will be held by the current keeper now in college. I would say that it's the most violent game I've ever played and his love of it might suggest a violent disposition. Well hope that's vaguely interesting
Post Number: 315
|Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 10:36 am: || |
For those of us hopelessly at sea (as well as across the sea) could you give a brief description of how the Wall Game is played.
Jennifer D. Pegg
Post Number: 1328
|Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 1:09 pm: || |
as far as my memory (not of playing the Eton wall game or being in the presence of anyone about to do so i might add but rather from the wonders of TV!)serves me the rules to the Eton wall game are complex and baffling!!!
heres a link to the official Eton College web pages!!
Post Number: 1577
|Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 1:12 pm: || |
From The Economist
It's arguably the world's most elite sport. And to spectators, certainly one of the dullest. The wall game is played on only one ground in the world, at Eton College, a few miles west of London; and even there, only by a select few of the school's 70 “collegers”, or scholarship-holders, plus a small number of “oppidans”, the fee-payers who comprise most of the school's roughly 1,300 pupils. Add a few former (or unsuspecting) players invited to make up the occasional visiting side, and you have the wall game community of the planet.
There are no wall-game leagues, no points tables, no ruling body, and the only match that matters is the annual one between collegers and oppidans, formerly played on St Andrew's Day, November 30th, but now on a Saturday a few days earlier. In that game, and earlier ones as the two sides (separately) get in practice for it, the usual scoreline is 0-0. Last year, with Britain's Prince Harry playing for them, the oppidans achieved a rare 2-0 win. This year, the collegers and oppidans drew 0-0.
Why such a low score? For a start, the playing area: bounded on one side by a high brick wall, it is 110 metres long but only five wide. Then the game itself. Massed beside the wall in a scrum, a half-dozen mud-caked players, collectively called the “bully”, try laboriously to push the rival half-dozen¯as well as the ball, usually invisible and almost incidental in this struggle¯to the far end of the field.
Two or three more from each ten-man side wait, usually on hands and feet, and even muddier, in formation beside them. One, clean-faced and upright, lags behind, hoping the ball will emerge loose from the bully, so he can kick it forward off the playing area: a valuable opportunity, since play will restart opposite where the ball comes to rest, not where it went out of play.
With no width to allow open play, that is about the only means of gaining ground at speed. But it is rare: it depends on a blunder by the other side, since you can't pass the ball backward, or simply leave it behind as you advance, for your man to kick. Nor can you pick it up and run with it. The standard way forward is to shove and shove, inch by hard-earned inch. With two well-matched teams and only 30 minutes of play, often neither side reaches its opponent's end at all.
And if you do at last get that far, the final few yards, marked off by a white line up the wall, are called calx¯Latin for “chalk”, probably from that white line. Once there, if you can lift the ball up against the wall with your foot and touch it with your hand, you earn a “shy”, worth one point.
A shy also gives you the right to throw the ball at “goal”: at one end a garden wall, at the other a tree (an ancient and giant oak until recently, when first it died and then the stump, still serving as the goal, was set alight by vandals and a young tree had to be planted in its place). Hit the target and you have scored a goal, worth ten points. But the angle to the door is acute and the young tree slim. It can be done; indeed, a goal was scored in a junior game a few weeks ago, but St Andrew's Day games have been goalless since 1909.
So the usual outcome is much mud, toil and sweat, little movement and no score. But less blood than in the past. In the good old days when The Economist's reporter played, the rules allowed “knuckling”: plant your fist, gently and not with a blow, anywhere on an opponent's face except his eyes, and rotate it. The fist was usually gloved, often encrusted with dried mud, and to the victim the effect was like being sandpapered.
Post Number: 316
|Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 2:11 pm: || |
Jen & Chris,
Thanks muchly. It is times like this, when people go above and beyond to answer my "restless curiousity," that more than make up for the occasional bursts of churlish and boorish behavior on the boards.
As far as the Game goes, I suppose you had to be there to appreciate it. It sounds rather like a combination of some of the neighborhood games we made up as kids and the "Townie-Preppie" hockey game that was once a staple of the Christmas vacation week in my home town.
The children of the well-to-do would usually depart for boarding (prep) school after 7th grade, leaving behind a lot of unsatisfied grudges that were redressed in the unofficial hockey game that was generally scheduled at dawn on one or another local pond. And there was never a score because seconds after the start it would become a brawl.
I considered myself a "Switzerland" in the simmering Townie-Preppie wars, but was conned one year into being the Townie goalie. That in itself is another story, but suffice to say that despite having a "ringside seat" for the blood letting I took no part.
Robert Charles Linford
Post Number: 3568
|Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 3:17 pm: || |
On the subject of obscure public school games, this story concerns Sir Robin Butler, Cabinet Secretaty (a top civil servant) under Margaret Thatcher.
In "Whitehall" by Peter Hennessy, Andrew Marr in the "Independent" is quoted thus :
Butler was captaining his house team in the obscure sport of Harrow football. They went one goal up early on and Butler spent the rest of the match sitting on the ball while both sides fought furiously over him. Eventually he was carried off, bloodied but unbowed, without another goal having been scored. No one was quite sure whether this was a splendid example of house spirit or sharp practice.
Hennessy goes on :
It was entirely typical of the man, in this reply to a letter from me, for him to write :
I can't remember whether I told you the story about Harrow football or you got it from someone else. Anyway it is true and I suppose that it is character-revealing. The point is that kneeling on the ball was within the rules. The convention was that you then stood up and struggled forward. My innovation was to notice that the rules didn't require you to do so. When I next see you I will demonstrate!
Mark Andrew Pardoe
Post Number: 275
|Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 4:14 pm: || |
Both odd games but they still seem more interesting than basketball.
Post Number: 1254
|Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 6:06 pm: || |
Something that interests here is the legendary physical strength of J K Stephen.This is not unlike the picture we get of MJ Druitt who was apparently a champion "Fives" player-a feat which would have demanded great strength in the arms and wrists.As well as this Druitt was an outstanding bowler though not quite in the championship league for cricket.
As both are JtR suspects--[though in the case of neither is there a shred of actual evidence]--it is nevertheless of interest that they have several things in common:
-Both were from the upper middle classes.
-Both possessed unusual skill at games and unusual physical strength.
-Both were barristers
-Both had links with the Duke of Clarence[JKS was his tutor at Cambridge,while MJDruitt should have attended a ball to which the Duke of Clarence went in December 1888.[Druitt had probab;y drowned by then.
-both had links with the Chiswick,Hammersmith area of West London-Druitt"s mother ended her life in an asylum in Chiswick and Druitt"s body was found nearby a house we understand was used for "literary soirees" by JK Stephens and his friends[who knows maybe Druitt was one of the "friends" half intending to attend one of these elite little gatherings but ended his life instead ending up just round the corner from the house!].
-Both had mental health problems,JK Stephens ending his young life in an asylum like Druitt"s mother and Druitt apparently ending his life because he thought he was "going to end up like Mother"[or similar such wording].
There is something about the connection that may unravel the mystery one day-only Druitt was considered seriously as a suspect by the police but only Machnaghten cites him as his prime suspect.
Anyway they were both superb sportsmen if nothing else it seems.
Thanks for the item Rod and the info Chris
Christopher T George
Post Number: 1144
|Posted on Monday, November 29, 2004 - 1:23 pm: || |
It has often been said that Jack the Ripper must have been a man with great upper body strength. Certainly, although I have not given him much regard up to this point as a personally favored suspect, if J. K. Stephen did possess such great upper body strength, as demonstrated by his legendary prowess in the Eton Wall Game, this might be one reason to view him as a viable suspect at least physically.
Christopher T. George
North American Editor
|Posted on Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - 5:28 am: || |
It is a 0-0 draw usually although I managed to lose to the oppidans aswell, 2-0. No goal has been scored since 1909, this was supposedly scored by Harold Macmillan although this is a myth, but he was in the team I think (he was certainly in college). Anyway chris has got it spot on except that I would say that knuckling although illegal is still much part of the game, nasty game as it is, certainly dont think I'll be turning up for any "friendlies" in the future...
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