I had to laugh yesterday whilst watching the Saracens v Sale game – the commentators kept going on about how the wet conditions were making the ball slippery leading to frequent knock- ons.
When I started playing at school we only had the old leather balls with laces – just try and catch one of those bastards when it’s pissing down!
It was the same when I started playing for Askeans in 1966 – the ‘all weather’ balls weren’t available until well into the 70s.
The leather jobbies were just like the proverbial bar of Camay (without making us ‘look lovelier each day’ – especially the props!).
Not only slippery, the bleeding things got heavier in the wet – so by half time it was like trying to pass a medicine ball or lifting one of Eric’s extra- large pork pies.
If you were stupid enough to try and kick the sodding thing, the game had to stop while the St John’s bloke tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to roughly shove your dislocated ankle back to where it had roughly come from.
The philosophy that it’s better ‘to play without the ball’ became the strategy for every team – you were much better off waiting for your opposite number to drop it (which they inevitably did). You could then hack it on and score – again this was mostly unsuccessful, which is why there were a fuck of a lot of 0-0 draws in the 60s.
To prove that we had to use these impossible to catch balls – here’s a shot of Lunny who was captain of the school 1st XV (about ‘66) holding the leather number plus another photo that proves that every so often, despite it being bloody heavy and slippery, I did manage to catch the bastard (ball not Lunny, obviously).
The fact that there is no one else in the shot is probably because it was half time and all the others were munching on half a satsuma. I’d also like to confirm that it’s not a hunch,, but a bloody great boil on my back! It had cleared up by the time I was in my fifties!