I’m staring out of my window today. Out of my window and at the street. I hardly see the two men arguing about a car parking space, or the boy delivering Pizza Hut leaflets featuring images of hot dog crusts.
I see a different street. My childhood street. The one I scuffed my shoes and grew up on, the one where the lamp-posts were wickets and the conifers goals. The one where games of kerbie stopped only for sausage and chips or cars.
In the summer: cricket, one-hand-one-bounce cricket. In the winter, spring, autumn and summer: football, and our games within it. Wembley Singles or Doubles – that unique combination of attacking and defending the same goal. ‘Smash the ball at Father Stonehouse’s door and leg it’. ‘Arthur Fowler Zone’ (the garden of an empty house where any act of violence was permitted). Actually, those two were probably unique to us. And Headers and Volleys, glorious Headers and Volleys.
Some knew this as ’60 Seconds’; even within our village there was a clear, controversial split. In South Yorkshire they had the miners’ strike, where stay-outs didn’t speak to scabs. In the North Riding we had H&Vers and 60ers. Brutal.
Both games were essentially the same: score by only a header or a volley while the keeper counts to 60. With each goal, the time reduces by five seconds, the keeper stays in. If he makes the 60 (or 55, 50 etc) not out, then it’s ‘Last Touch’; whoever dares to shoot and is caught goes in goal. The shame. I remember a rumour that someone had got hapless custodian Sammy Chapman ‘down to five seconds in the third 60’. If only we’d shown as much interest in classroom maths.
It’s Friday afternoon. Who’s first in nets?