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Hughton and a hall of mirrors

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Dan Walker | 10:09 UK time, Thursday, 27 January 2011

In a week when plenty of people are talking about the things TV pundits and presenters say and do, I wanted to mention how impressed I was by former Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton on last Saturday's Football Focus.

The former Newcastle manager talked about the past and the future - and from the comments we received afterwards, it seems he only enhanced his reputation as one of the nicer men in football. He was a true gentleman before, during and after the show.

There were topics he did not want to discuss but the way he referred to Mike Ashley as "the owner" tells you a lot. The fact he was voted the BBC North East Sports Personality of the Year indicates he is still highly thought of by others.

What I found interesting was that Hughton hit all the targets he was set by Newcastle. When he was told he was no longer required, the club were 11th in the Premier League. If you want to hear a little more from Hughton, watch this week's Focus Forum below.

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Last Friday was a busy one for Focus. The day began at the London Dungeon, where filming for the opening of last Saturday's programme took place in the hall of mirrors.

There were three of us in there - producer Michael, cameraman Craig and me. We took it in turns to headbutt the walls at various points and, after learning that walking backwards is a little harder than you think, we were happy with the end product.

I am not sure there is anyone in the world who can beat cameraman Craig when it comes to stories about baboons. During the World Cup in South Africa last year, one of the monkeys broke into his hotel room in the middle of the night and started rifling through his stuff. Craig sat motionless on the bed watching the event unfold. Eventually, the baboon discovered a bar of chocolate and got comfortable in the corner of the room. He then ate the whole thing while giving Craig the evil eye.

After leaving the London Dungeon, Craig and I headed straight to Arsenal's training ground to speak to Gunners manager Arsene Wenger. It is always a pleasure to chat with the Frenchman. I like the way he thinks about his answers before launching into his response and he very rarely wanders into the world of cliché.

So Friday was good fun but the real highlight of the weekend came on my way home from Focus on Saturday. I drove past a school about a mile from our house and spotted some kids playing 'W.E.M.B.L.E.Y.' against the school wall while I was waiting at a set of traffic lights. I was instantly transported back in time.

I spent many hours trying to hit the right target on a wall or fence at the same time as looking for the right angle to make it impossible for my mates to do the same. If you are unfamiliar with the rules, failure to hit the correct section of wall would result in you collecting a 'W', then an 'E', and so on. Good for skills and spelling!

I did a bit of Twitter research and it appears that the pastime, which can be played as singles or doubles, has a number of regional variations: 'Cuppies' in the North East, 'Spot' in the West Country, 'Knockout' in Wales, 'Knocky-Outy' in Shropshire and 'Slam' in the Midlands. Someone even claimed they played a version called 'World Cup Willy'!

As much as I loved - and still love - 'W.E.M.B.L.E.Y.' I feel it comes second in the list of childhood football madness behind clear winner 'Headers and Volleys'.

Keown gets a kiss off Vieira after a victory over Manchester United

There is something quite magical about a game that can entertains between two and 22 people for up to week. I think 'Three and In' probably makes the podium, ahead of '60 seconds', purely based on the fact that any infringement results in the classic call of "penalties all round".

It is one of those tremendous phrases - along with "rush goalie" or "fly nets" if you are from Wales - that is sadly missing from the professional footballers' lexicon.

That is one of the great things about football - and many other sports. Away from the Champions League and World Cup finals, the multi-millionaire superstars and all-seater stadiums, there is something very pure and wonderful about a group of mates knocking a ball against a wall or trying to keep it off the ground.

So on to this week's Football Focus - and we have got another FA Cup beauty lined up for you. Martin Keown will be in conversation with former Arsenal team-mate Patrick Vieira, while a freshly shaved Lawro will be back on the sofa.

If you have any questions or comments about the show or you want to share your version of 'W.E.M.B.L.E.Y.' with us, then bung something down below. The best way to follow the build-up to this week's Focus is on Twitter at


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  • Comment number 1.

    Headers and Volleys, classic! 'W.E.M.B.L.E.Y' referred to as 'Walley' up in these north east Scottish parts...

  • Comment number 2.

    Agreed Wembley was the knock out game, goal and through to the next round, two in the final. Singles or Doubles. Loved it.

    60 Seconds was also a personal favourite

  • Comment number 3.

    I've got great memories of both those games, and still play 'Heads and Volleys' with my mates pretty often. The rules used to be different from one part of town to another, everyone seemed to have their own understanding, which often led to disputes. Once we all agreed on the rules though, it's good fun.

    In my pocket of the East Midlands 'W.E.M.B.L.E.Y' was called Wallie/Walley and we usually lost lives when we didn't hit the wall. We also had a chaotic rule where you could kick the ball at other players and if it hit them they lost a life. Good times.

  • Comment number 4.

    You got to love a bit of 28's, 2 for a volley, 3 for a header, 5 for a speckie. Brands at the end, classic...

  • Comment number 5.

    What a flashback!!! I remember playing headers and volleys until very recently with the boys on a sunday morning, im now 31 years old and you still get the boys not having the courage to shoot if the penalty for missing was going in goal!

    You don't see it much these days which is a crying shame, such games kept me out of trouble as a kid and got me attending school, just to get my fix in the playground!

    It was an excellent game with much to be taken from it, ie increasing your ability to make a quick decision and fine tuning your technique at an early age.

  • Comment number 6.

    "Jumpers for goalposts, hmm...isn't it?"

    'Slam' was something we played at school. Aim at the wall as hard as possible and at weird angles, to try and get the ball into such an awkward position that the next person couldn't shoot.

    Simple times...

  • Comment number 7.

    World Cup Willy - Best game ever. FACT!

    One keeper, as many people on pitch as you like (singles or doubles), aim is to score a certain number of goals (agreed at the start) and you're through to the next round. Last person/people to do this are out.

    Penalties all round for handballs and scoring inside the six yard box (unless of course, it was with a header or a 'fancy'!)

    'Heads and Vol's' - definite close second but only if 'whips' are played at the end!

    Great blog as usual young Jedi!

    Richard Nixon

  • Comment number 8.

    King catch anyone?

    Jeff Wealands

  • Comment number 9.

    Another football game we played at school was World Cup. Other than the nominated goalie, everybody took a country, and you had to score a couple of goals to progress through each round. If you failed, you were out. This progressed through until two were left, then the first person to score three won the World Cup.

    It was a really competitive game as it was every boy for themselves rather than the usual team game.

    It'll be interesting to hear from Patrick Viera - I assume the interview will have a major focus on Arsenal? I think one upcoming issue for Arsenal that could have repurcussions beyond the match itself, is the CL tie against Barcelona. If Arsenal do poorly, I wonder whether it will have a detrimental effect on them in the League, particularly psychological. Arsenal have sometimes suffered from this in the past following an important defeat. For their sakes, I hope they play to the best of the ability and give the Catalan side a good run for their money - anything could happen.

    Finally... following the BBC Online cuts, will your blog be surviving beyond this season? I read from the BBC man's blog that a number of regular blogs are going to be culled, and felt it would be a shame if this one were shelved being that it provides a useful link between Football Focus and those football supporters/followers who read and make contributions on here.

    Captain Pugwash

  • Comment number 10.

    Wembley was just known as 'squash' in my part of Wales, due to it's vague resemblance to the game of the same name, and you lost lives. Our park had a freestanding wall and a number of strategically placed bushes so there was always an obstacle to aim for. Good times! I went past the park recently and they'd taken the wall away and put up a sign saying 'no ball games', end of an era :(

  • Comment number 11.

    Wembley as I know it is one keeper, one goal and very man for himself or in pairs. Score to go through and two in the final. I've lived in the Northeast, Yorkshire, the Midlands and now the West Country, and that has been universal. Never heard of this W.E.M.B.L.E.Y. business.

    We had heads, volleys and beats at school. Great fun.

  • Comment number 12.

    It was 'world cup willie' in southampton!!! that brings back some memories of playing out all day in the summer!

    Also the punishment if you lost headers and volleys.... bum wraps!!! (a free shot to the losers backside from about 4 yards) Lose that in winter and you knew it!!

    Ah, what I would give to be outside now playing football all day...

  • Comment number 13.

    yeah W.E.M.B.L.E.Y or Walley as it was round me was pretty much the enduring memory of my lower and middle school days.
    but Killer was the one i enjoyed the most (1st person in goal, 2nd taking the penalty, then 2nd in goal and 3rd taking penalty and so on, looping round. if u missed your pen, u had to save the next guys pen or u would be knocked out), I may have preferred it due to my position as a penalty taking goalie which meant I won a lot, not really sure though :)

  • Comment number 14.

    60 secs was always a lot of fun, as if you were the goalie you could count the 60 as quick as you liked. Heads and Volleys another classic. I'm from Halifax and they used to call 'rush goalie', 'Goalie When' short for 'Goalie when needed'.
    Reading Stevie G autobiography he was out playing the same game we were as kids, probably just a whole lot better standard.

  • Comment number 15.

    Wall-y in the North East. Wembley was also known as 'knock-out singles/double" and 'headers and volleys" was always "heads and vols"

    Nee blammers!

  • Comment number 16.

    I've never even heard of W.E.M.B.L.E.Y, let alone played it.

    60 is my personal favourite. It was always sadistically amusing when the kid with two left feet scored when the ball had bounced, meaning he was in goal, and then kept conceeding up to a daft number (I think round 17 was our record).

    Good times.

    A: "No-goal! It went over!
    B: "No it never!"
    A: "Yes it did!"
    B: "It was below head height!"
    A: "That's not fair! Your goalie's shorter than ours!" etc. etc.

  • Comment number 17.

    oh yeah and of course, the losers always got bumslaps from between 2 and 10 yards in any game, distant dependent on how evil the kid dishing them out was

  • Comment number 18.

    To explain… 'King-Catch' is essentially 'Headers and Volleys' with a get-out for the goalie. If the keeper catches a shot or a cross he can set-up a chance to score for another player while the careless crosser/shooter rushes in to become the new goalie.

    Fraser Digby

  • Comment number 19.

    Ah, memories, sweet memories...

    Spending all day, literally, 'up the school fields' during the summer holidays playing 'cooler' as we called it (your 'Headers & Volleys' I think), only stopping when the breeze carried the distant call of our Mum's close and we'd be like meercats, heads and noses twitching, with a 'I think I heard my Mum'...

    Electronic gadgets and games? Nah, who needs 'em, when you can write 'BOOBS' on your brick-like LED calculator.

    Here in Cardiff, we had 'SPOT', which I remember was always easier and less controversial with soggy balls (they left a mark on the wall, naughty!) and 'goalie-when' and 'goalie-stick'...

    Kids these days just don't know what they're missing... Way too much to do and so, so complicated... I don't envy them in the slightest.

  • Comment number 20.

    We used to play "World Cup" as well (as outlined by Eric Morecambe).

    Only one jumper used as a goal post though.The other one was the "no ball games" sign.

    Eric Bartholomew

  • Comment number 21.

    if there was no wall then the game reverted to "Kerby"....against the roadside kerb.

  • Comment number 22.

    I'm from the North East (Newcastle) and we called it SPOT too. Never heard anyone call it 'cuppies' up here before...

  • Comment number 23.

    Right that's it, it'll be lunch shortly, I'm sending a circular email and drumming up some support for an impromptu game of wally in the office car park.

    When I was a lad we invented a game called 'pos n neg' - it was classic. A goal got you a point and conceding lost you one, if you missed you became the goalie and could concede a goal from your rebounded miss. Played against a wall the game finished when someone got to +/- 10. Hectic doesn't come close and the much relished schadenfreude as you punished someone with an instant point reduction when they hadn't even reached the goal yet was a joy.

    Love the blog Dan and wish I could catch Footy Focus more often! Keep up the good work.

    Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

  • Comment number 24.

    We used to play "Barrie" in Fife. It involved try to hit the cross-bar. If you hit it straight on and the ball rebounded towards you then you got 2 points. If it hit the bar and went over (or under) then you would get 1 point. To speed the game up, one person would be on the pitch and the other behind the goals. So, clearly if you missed there was someone there to get the ball and then take his shot. First to 10 was the winner. Great fun but it also helped when it then came to the real thing and either having to pass the ball or for shooting

  • Comment number 25.

    Great read,

    Just thinking back to games we played as kids ((in Northern Ireland esp not seen it here in England) and still do now with my nephews) is a game we played called 2 touch (literally one touch to control and the other to shoot or try and score). It was played on (a quiet street) using gates as goals (either driveway gate or small gates) with you not allowed to cross into the other players half. There were very little rules other than you couldn't handle the ball and if it went out of bounds you could have an extra touch to bring it into play again.

    It taught you control, the ability to think quickly and defend too. Great game shame you don't see kids playing it now adays. Think alot of issue is neighbours just don't want kids playing in the street or damaging anything so they usually chase them off.

    Headers and volleys was also an ace game that usually made the summers go in very quickly!

  • Comment number 26.

    I couldn't tell you where it came from but in Dorset we tended to call it "nods and vods" - never all that sure why. While wembley was played slightly differently. I'm not sure I could say what we called it on the bbc but we'l say it began with A and ended with the loser having the ball rocketed at a specific part of him while facing a wall.

  • Comment number 27.

    Me and my sister were talking about this before, spending literally 6 hours a day in the summer playing footy on the field round the corner!

    the days of 'Rush Goalie' '5 goal head starts' and 'YOU KICKED IT! PLAY ON!'

    fantastic times! even in the winter i'd be on my front kickin the ball into the hedge or leaving the front door open and usin the hedge as a wall to try and get the ball over!

    oh and one last thing... ''THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS BALL TO HAND!'

  • Comment number 28.

    In Bournemouth we liked world cup doubles and singles a lot. Essenitally a keeper and a number of teams made up of 1 or 2 persons.

    Each round you had to score a set number of goals until a team was eliminated with the goals increasing each round until the final.

    Headers and volleys was also one we played a lot.

    I do remember the classic end to these games usually involved "branding" for some unfortunate kid who was the worst loser in the game. He had to face away from the taker and bend over while we blasted the ball at him from 10 yards...or much less if he was too scared to look round and we moved the ball closer!!

    Good days and sometimes we still play these games down the park in the summer!

  • Comment number 29.

    Rush goalies used to be known as 'playing spider' too.

  • Comment number 30.

    Cuppy up in Scotland was the equivalent of the afore mentioned 1 goalie and singular or teams of players trying to get through to the next round..

    Also had a park full of spaced out trees which resulted in Football golf if other games took a turn for the boring..

    Billy Two Hats

  • Comment number 31.

    It was 'Walley' for me or we played Kerby. Wembley was always the knock-out game to me and my favourite. You can play it individually or in pairs and if you score you're through to the next round. It was a great way to spend a break at school for 20 minutes or so.

    I dreaded Headers and Volleys for fear of going in goal. If you didn't catch it or no-one missed you stay in goal, then if you conceded a certain amount of goals everyone gets to kick one shot at you, not fun at all.

  • Comment number 32.

    #28 yes I remember we would sometimes play World Cup doubles as well as singles, as I described above as well. You always hoped that if you were playing doubles, you would get a good playing partner, otherwise you had next to no chance.

    It's good to see #20 also remembers the game.

    Andrew Preview

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm with Danny F, I'm from Barnsley and 'rush goalie' was 'goalie when' and W.E.M.B.L.E.Y was called 'knockout Wem' as in 'knockout Wembley, which was a free for all with one keeper and a pair of jumpers for goalposts.... Fond memories of scoring a 30 yarder (or so it seemed!) that was chalked off for being over head height, to this day I swear it wasn't!! I remember being sent off by the other lads for arguing my point a bit too much!!

    Funny how even at junior school there were still rules that everyone stuck to.

    Good times

  • Comment number 34.

    Our version of Headers & Volleys added the feared "5 & a boot" - the goalies backside being the recipient of a boot from all participants when he let in 5 goals!

    We also used to have One-Touch as our version of WEMBLEY, the subtleties, rules & tatics of which are far too many & varied to be included here!

    Keep up the good work Dan.

    Transvison Vamp

  • Comment number 35.

    Wallee for me - also from the North East and never heard of "cuppies" Ours was just a free standing wall if you missed it you lost a life.

    Headers and volleys was called 1st Division - everyone started in the first division, you could only score with a header or a volley and after an agreed number had been scored against a keeper (think it was 10) they were relegated to the 2nd, and so on. If you missed you took your turn in goal.

    Great days - dreading going home cos your school trousers were thick with mud!

  • Comment number 36.

    another one we talked about was if we didnt use our jumpers for goalposts we'd use either up-turned bikes, trainers or mounds of grass... and the other team would always try and make your goal bigger!

    #32 i didn't play world cup doubles we were boring and called it a knockout, and the final taking ages because usually for me the 2 best players (me and tom) were in the final.

  • Comment number 37.

    I am 19 and definitely plate variations of these games at primary and high school. We called it 'wallie' or 'shapes' and you lost lives if you missed or got hit with the ball when it wasn't your turn. If you lost all your lives you got a 'red hot ar*e' when you stood against the wall and every other player got to take a shot at your behind. Always kept us entertained! We also have a game called 'cuppie' which can be played in doubles or singles but it doesn't match any of the descriptions.

  • Comment number 38.


    I introduced my nephew to 'Barrie' on Sunday, he's seven and loved it, ended up beating me 10-6, a future Lionel Messi (I hope!!)

  • Comment number 39.

    I remember, back when I were a lad! Me and a friend came up with a game called, quite simply, "The Crossbar Game". Rules are simple.

    One team either side of the goal. You aim for the bar, the post or the corner piece joining them together.

    Post = 2 point
    Bar = 4 points
    "Yeboah" - 6 points
    Corner piece = 10 points

    Points are doubled with your weak foot and no shots allowed within 12 yards. Brilliant game, kept us entertained for hours and I've spread the word for about 15 years, man and boy!

  • Comment number 40.

    When we played Headers and Volleys at school, or 'Gooma' (not sure why), we played it if you missed or the keeper caught it without it bouncing you went in net. Once 5 goals had been scored, whoever happened to be in net at that point got 'beats'. It started with a soft punch off all the players, then after another 5 goals it went to medium punch, then hard punch, then soft punch and kick, medium, hard. Following this (if dinner time permitted), it would be the TUNNEL OF DEATH!. This involved all players lining up leaning on the wall to create a tunnel. The keeper then had to run through the tunnel whilst all the other players kicked them as hard as possible! It then went back to soft punch for some reason!

    Wembley was a simple knockout singles/doubles game with one net and one keeper. The first person out had to go in net on the next game.

    Good times.

  • Comment number 41.

    Squash, in the Scottish Borders, was our Wembley. Better than that though was World Cup doubles or singles....unless you went out in the first round that is! It was one goal to get through the first round, 2 for the second etc. It could be a long wait!

    Me and my brother used to use the washing line posts as goals. We'd spend hours trying to curl in free kicks from round the side of the house!

  • Comment number 42.

    #38 i still play that, only in crewe we call it crossbar tennis! we got quite drunk one time and played trip crossbar tennis... i only lost my tshirt haha

  • Comment number 43.

    where we live in the Melton Mowbray it was always called walley, but by far the best game was "heads and vollies", normal rules applied, although we sometimes through blasts in to a game, this is where if a 'keeper let in five goals every player was alowwed to blast the ball at them from the six yard line while the keeper faced away from them. Brilliant!!

  • Comment number 44.

    Down south it was called World Cup Willie.
    We also played - Spot, and Headers and Volleys as well as Football in the Alley (handy when you live on a council estate), Kerby (safer than playing chicken!) and Headers (one v one with jumpers for goal post).

  • Comment number 45.

    #7 said:
    World Cup Willy - Best game ever. FACT!

    One keeper, as many people on pitch as you like (singles or doubles), aim is to score a certain number of goals (agreed at the start) and you're through to the next round. Last person/people to do this are out.

    Penalties all round for handballs and scoring inside the six yard box (unless of course, it was with a header or a 'fancy'!)


    Up here in Shetland, we just called this, "World Cuppy."

    Exact same game though, including no shots from inside 6 yards, except headers and tricks. Singles or doubles. Magic memories.

    Me and my pals for years would go out to the local park EVERY night and play from 6 or 7pm til 11pm or midnight non-stop. The great thing about Shetland's summer is that sunset is at like 1am!!! Wonderful times!! :)

    Other popular games were Wally (called W.E.M.B.L.E.Y in the blog), Headers & Volleys (obviously!), and we had the cross bar challenge well before Soccer AM did!!

  • Comment number 46.

    Judging by the responses on here this is very much a generation thing. I wonder if any teenagers are reading this and shaking their heads about the "old codgers" wittering on..

  • Comment number 47.

    "grandmasterflash80" that is a great shout. Memories of playing two touch on Wednesday nights in our church hall, the goalposts being two columns at end of the hall. How I miss those days

  • Comment number 48.

    Sorry for the double post but the other games I forgot about was called "Numbers." Two teams of however many players you wanted and 1 goalie. Each player on each team had a number. When the goalie shouted your number or numbers or multiple players, you had to rush on from the side, collect the ball from the centre spot first and try to score first. Best moment ever was in this game. One lad sent a 35-yard piledriver that was heading straight in, I launched myself at it, it brushed my head and sneaked in past the keeper!! As I remember we still lost that game 15-9, but I didn't care, for one day I felt like Bergkamp!!! hahaha!

  • Comment number 49.

    Headers and Volleys was called 'Bonehead', back where I'm from (Forest of Dean). Always thought it was a strange thing to call it. We called all v all with one goalkeeper 'Wembley'. I have fond memories of perfecting the art of volleys with a Ryan Giggs Sunball (detached from the shades) during Summer holidays with mates.

  • Comment number 50.

    #37 is only 19, #46, but it does look like the average age of those of us reminicising is probably around 35 or so.

    Digressing a little, one of the other big childhood favourites (albeit more like rugby than football) was British Bulldog. A great game, although one or two officious teachers would sometimes try and stop it because they thought it was dangerous... yet I don't remember a single injury to anyone in all the times I played it. Health and Safety was around even in the 80's and at the beginning of the 90's.

    The Green Cross Code Man

  • Comment number 51.

    not at all! I'm 19 reading this and all the games match up just the names are different.

  • Comment number 52.

    Strip Barrie? sounds good, obviously better playing with a load of ladies...

    Wait.....was that sexist?

  • Comment number 53.

    Ah headers n volleys, what a game! We used to play that there are 11 points, a volley took off 1 point, a header 2 and round the world (everybody touching it without the ball touching the floor) 3. Post/bar saved all. Whoever was in goal when the points ran out and the doggy life was taken got brands. If you missed the player getting brands you join them. Many, many hours of my life spent playing that game.

  • Comment number 54.

    Just for noting, I'm only just turned 22, we had all these games in the 90's, folks!! :)

  • Comment number 55.

    Red "bum" headers and volleys was the best game in school. all line up to take pens who ever misses goes in goal. if the keeper catches a volley or a header the person who volleyed/headed it is in. concede 3 goals and the players line up like a penalty shoot out to have free shots at the keepers "bum"

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm from Sheffield and we played spot, wembley, headers and volleys and 3 and in. When I worked in shopfitting, we used to rig up a makeshift tennis court and played football tennis doubles (headers, volleys and half-volleys). How about head tennis in the swimming pool on holiday - classic british pastime!

  • Comment number 57.

    Lived in south shields for 10 years and have been in shropshire for the last 15 - game names never changed in either location! played spot against a wall not wembley(often trying to wedge the ball under a nearby car or behind a fence for the next person!). Knock out wem was a round based 1 and through game with 3 goals in the final game! Heads and volleys was known as either that or 16's due to having 16 points at the start (-1 for a volley -2 for a head -3 for a special and one wide and you went in or whoever hit the post or bar for the 3rd time with the same keeper went in! the keeper also got out if he caught the ball one handed!!) first person to lose all points would be the one to get ''red arsed''!! First keeper to go in always got 5 bonus points to so started on 21! Great memories!!

  • Comment number 58.

    Another quality blog Dan. Feel sorry for Chris Hughton but maybe the fact that he's never once whinged about being booted out unfairly speaks volumes for his suitability for being a ruthless premier league manager?

    Anyway, the game we used to play as nippers was 'bend.' Might have an iffy game but here is how it was played: it was just a normal game of 'English Crossing' which was having a shot on the volley or one bounce and if you hit it wide or over then you went in goals. Except if you let in the 10th goal then you had to bend over facing the wall and everyone got one chance to smash the ball at you.

    Variations from when we were older were having to score the last goal from the half-way line of the school playground and also having an order of who went first to last having the shot at the loser. If you missed hitting them with your shot you had to line up on the wall next to your mate and hope that everyone else had as bad a shot as you. For that reason, the person who scored the last goal to make the loser 'bend' would go last to ensure they weren't hit.

    To my eternal shame I once ran away when I was due to line up on the wall. Shocking.

  • Comment number 59.

    Some classic games here... World Cup singles and doubles was a favourite too, although hard work if you got knocked out early (boring) or stayed in a long time (tiring).

    I wonder if Andy Connor will come up with something suitably surreal this week... cat's playing keepy uppy perhaps but using a grapefruit instead of a football?

    Jossy's Giants

  • Comment number 60.

    In Norwich the games were:
    Headers and Volleys (also known as Doggy). Same format as Headers and Volleys but everytime you concede you lose a life. First person to lose all there lives can use the 'Doggy' life.

    W.E.M.B.L.E.Y that Dan refers to was called Rebounds.

    Wembley Singles/Doubles was the standard jumpers for goal posts, one goal you're through to the next round. 3 in the final.

    Haha, bulldog. What a game. We used to play takedown bulldog, which says it all. Take someone down by any means possible and they join you in the middle.

    Man what I would do for a game of takedown bulldog with my work colleagues.

  • Comment number 61.

    Walley was one of my favourites because we had an old bike shed on the edge of the playground at my school.

    We played headers and vollies but I hated being in goal!! We always called it cuppies when you have 1 keeper and either singles or doubles. My favourite was doubles because my best mate was on the school footy team haha!!

    #46 It seems refreshing that Dan was able to witness a game but I do wonder if its widespread. In my town most of the smallish areas of grass I used to play on are now strictly no ball games and a lot of the garage areas etc. are all gated shut to keep the kids out. I must admit there are also a lot more cars around my mum and dad's house these days so kids in the street tend to get chased off pretty sharpish too!

  • Comment number 62.

    #46 Completely disagree I'm 23 and most of these games match up...although where I'm from in Ireland Heads and Volleys is called Heads and Flicks....rules seem similar enough although in our version a keeper can get out of goal if he makes a "clean catch" (catches the ball cleanly from a shot without the ball touching the ground and the keeper can't fumble it probably came into our game through Gaelic football) we also have red arse for the loser....amazing how all these games are more or less the same wherever you go just with small local names and variations

  • Comment number 63.

    When I was a kid, we played the following:

    60 Seconds - 60 to score 1 header or volley, then 2, then 3 etc. If you didn't do it in 60 seconds it went to last catch - you had to score the required goals but if the keeper caught the ball, whoever hit it went in net

    Headers & Volleys - Only headers in the area, volleys outside. If you got caught or scored without volleying you went in net.

    Walley - Same as W.E.M.B.L.E.Y

    Wembley Singles - One keeper, every outfield player for themselves. Last to score went out, then next round last to score 2 went out etc.

    Wembley Doubles - Same as Singles but paired up.

    Still play headers and volleys. We also still go on the five-a-side pitch behind my house and play keeper vs keeper - can only shoot at each other from your own area. Pretty challenging considering the small nets. I so need to get out of work and get a ball after all this....

  • Comment number 64.

    At the start of summer, with all the fuss over the ball that would be used at the world cup, i decided to buy one and see what the fuss was about. When weekend came, I rang round some of my mates and about 11 of us had a kick about on the field where we all used to play junior football. After about an hour of playing wembley, (where the tried and tested rule of 'fleaing up' and paper scissor stones rule was not needed as we had somebody who enjoyed being in net) one of my mates said we should instead play 'heads and volleys'.
    I then made the schoolboy error of shouting bagsy not in net last, but, within seconds i had remembered every single rule, screaming 'wides and overs!!!!'
    Thankfully my mate joe was daft enough to volley over from 6 yards and was in net for 'botty's', where I managed to hit him square on in the arse, much to his dismay as a croud had seemingly appeared from nowhere to watch his humiliation.

    The fun didnt last long though, on our third round of games, i managed to volley wide, hitting my shiny new yellow ball into a thorn bush. We then retreated to the local newsagents for an ice pop...... did i mention that we are all at least 23 years old haha

    Julian Joachim

  • Comment number 65.

    50. At 13:19pm on 27th Jan 2011, Eric Morecambe wrote:

    Used to play Bulldogs as well but one lad got a bloody nose when someone was trying to catch him and it got banned at my school.

    They also made us start to use sponge balls but on a tarmac playgound. The ball was pretty much useless by the end of the day and falling apart. Think this came in because 1 kid got hit by a ball in the face and again got a bloody nose (I hope it wasn't the same kid!!)

  • Comment number 66.

    Always played as Slam in Birmingham. Rush goalie known as running goalie, not the best position to play! No shin pads, bruises all over and Mom saying, you'll get ulcerated legs you know........What!!
    Would go out on the field for 5, 10 maybe 15 a side football after tea and still be out there playing in the dark. Neighbours shouting at us to clear off home.
    Great memories from long ago.

  • Comment number 67.

    Walley was by far the king! I remember epic games me and my mates used to play with a size 1 football. I've just suggested to my workmates that instead of playing 5 a side on a Tuesday we should just do mega walley somewhere. Noboday shared my enthusiasm, so I sit here now with my dream in tatters.

  • Comment number 68.

    Happy memories of skipping lessons at 6th form to play our variation of Heads n' V's.

    Having to score 5 heads and volleys, if the keeper caught the ball then whoever touched it last had to go in goal. Whoever was in goal when the last point was scored stood on the goal line with their back to us, while each player took it in turns to take a penalty against the keeper, with the back of the head being a fantastic place to land a shot!

    Later variations included the 'car park rule' where if you kicked the ball over the fence into the staff car park you were automatically in goal.

    Wish my boss would let me head outside for a kick I miss college!!!

  • Comment number 69.

    We didn't have much space on our school playground and so our preference was a game of one touch one bounce. Before, during and after school. Any number could play and you were out if someone passed you the ball and you failed to pass it on to someone else using only one touch and allowing only one bounce

  • Comment number 70.

    #39 Good to see someone else mentioning "Yeboah". For an entire generation in Leeds a goal isn't worth it if it doesn't go in off the bar.

    Bit of a deviation but I always enjoyed a game of 'Elbow Cricket'. For the uninitiated the ball is usually a bit of rolled up tin foil, the batsmen sits opposite the bowler (underarm only) and has to hit the ball with his elbows (hands together and behind the head). Runs are scored based on the distance the ball is hit and fielders are always on one handed catches. Fun, frantic and excellent catching practice as you are essentially fielding at silly mid on/off at all times.

  • Comment number 71.

    I'm from Manchester...
    Wall-ey was the game where you kicked the ball against the wall.
    Kerby was the game where you had to throw or kick the ball at the kerb. If you hit it, you got to move into the middle of the road for your next throw (better on a quiet road this one).
    Wembley (singles or doubles) involved one keeper and then either every man for himself, or teams ot 2, trying to score. You went through to the next round if you scored and dropped out if you were last left. You had to score 2 goals in round 2, 3 in round 3 etc. We always used to finish off with a penalty shootout.
    60 seconds/headers and vollies had numerous different rules depending on which road you lived on. The cause of many arguments over whose turn it was to go in net.
    Great times.

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    At school we organised ourselves an interclass league that get properly competitive. I'll never forget scoring direct from a goal kick, probably my finest hour! I was always the nutter who would wear shorts all year round so I could slide tackle people without getting shouted at for ruining my trousers. I have vague memories of kicking a ball against a wall with some sort of objective as well, I think we gave it the imaginative name of 'wall ball'. Good times.

    In the parks 3 and in was king - either every boy for himself (tackle and shoot) or in teams of 2 or 3 (pass and shoot), in which case one unlucky guy had to go in goal and the other(s) were defenders. What was also fun was getting as many of your mates together as you could and having ridiculously large games with the ever present jumpers as goals. I've played a variation on headers and volleys as well I think, called BUMS. Keep the ball in the air, you get a letter for a mis-control or bad pass. The idea was to think up the rudest word or phrase possible, and whoever collected the letters first had to shout the word/phrase as loud as they could before having the ball kicked at them by the others.

    @46 - I was playing these games no more than 10 years ago. Young kids still play lots of football games like these, but I find they tend to stop earlier nowadays. It would be a real shame if they died out, but I'm sure they won't. The problem is that people are less willing to let young children just go and play on their own unsupervised now. You used to almost have to fight for space at my local parks, or get there early and shotgun the space for an entire glorious summer day! Not so much so now.

  • Comment number 74.

    Ahhhh Nostaligia ........

    All the same but slightly different - reminds me of playing with local kids when visiting family and having to observe their obscure coloquial rules!!
    We had various variants back in our day including .. FA Singles/Doubles which allowed players to pick teams that had qualified for the FA Cup and pick our favourite players .. remember many times winning the FA Cup as Cheltenham with Goals from Neil Grayson or Jason Eaton! or World Cup Singles which allowed World Cup teams - Particularly sucessful around the 1998 WC When I also won as Chile with a Marcelo Salas screamer into the top bin for a 3-2 comeback win against my brother... needless to say he was fuming!

    Rush Keepers also refered to as 'poppin' Keepers - as anyone could - 'pop in' to the net.

    Headers & Volleys played against an open Garage door with shouts of 'POST SAVES ALL!' Also particularly enjoyed stitching your mates by letting a weak shot or a poor header roll out wide when it could easily be rescued! Also 'long-rangers allowed' of the floor from outside the box!

    Straight out after School - In for tea @ six - back out after The Simpsons to start again until dark. Epic days.....

  • Comment number 75.

    Great blog as always Dan. I can at least match Craig's baboon story; I spend a fair bit of time in sub-Saharan Africa, on a trip to Zimbabwe in the late 90's I was driving through a national park (Matopos if you're interested) and stopped off to use a public toilet. On my return I noticed a HUGE male baboon approaching my VW mini van. He proceeded to figure out how to open the sliding door and jumped in, having rummaged through the entire vehicle the clever primate located an large unopen foil bag of biscuits. The brute ran off, sat on a rocky ledge a few metres away and open the bag, exactly as a human would do. Finally, and this is the amazing part, he lined up the entire troop and handed each and every one a biscuit before scarpering up a tree. Just thought I'd share that with you!

  • Comment number 76.

    RE: Comment #71 (Jeppo from Manchester)

    Kerby! Wow! This really should be an olympic sport! Did you play by the rules where you received additional points if headed the ball across or threw the ball backwards over your head? Or was that just me an my crazy ways?

  • Comment number 77.

    Headers, Volleys AND BEATS!
    Maybe this is the South West version or maybe you have toned it down for the beeb? Anyway, 3 goals and everyone gets to punch the keeper, (not in the face, though still a bit nerve-wracking with 20+ people playing). If the goalie throws the ball out and it hits you before hitting the ground, congrats - you are now in goal..

  • Comment number 78.

    Being 20 and having left school only four years ago, I can tell you all of these rituals are still alive.

    We called the wall game, "Wall Ball" but it was the same game. For us in the South East, Wembley was the knockout game where 1 goal is scored and you are through. To be honest we still play this down the park all the time.

    And I laughed a lot when you reminded me of "Penalties all-round".

    Great blog and a chance to reminisce about the good old days of lunchtime football.

  • Comment number 79.

    Surely Crawley Town won FA Singles with a late Raphael Meade Strike on more than one occasion eh Danboy?! Thanks for bringing it all back - really fancy some Campbell's Meatballs and Pasta follwed by some Gino Ginelli as a retro tea now!!

    Efan Ekoku

  • Comment number 80.

    I'm 21 and I still play W.E.M.B.L.E.Y! There is a football "cage" and a bit of wall near where I live so if the cage is taken we play W.E.M.B.L.E.Y or 60 seconds whilst we wait.

    Then once we get end of the cage we play Red Arse. This is headers and volleys where the guy who runs out of goalie lives gets a penalty shoot out at his backside!

    We have "house rules" where we start off with cross bar challenge for who starts in goal and a 50:50 will be decided by majority ruling. If you reach zero lives you still have the oppotunity to save yourself for you have to concede a goal from a headed set peice.

    It is a great game because my touch and finish has improved massively as a result and regained the confidence in my left foot.

  • Comment number 81.

    In Bournemouth too no.28!!
    Redhill Park in the 80's!

    1. World Cup - remember back in 86 - take a team and a player..2 in the final
    2. Headers and Volleys - or as we called it 'stars on 45' 5 pints for a header or volley, 5 points to the goalie for a save..first one to 45! .Don't set yourself up and not in the 6 yard box!!
    3. Spot - wall and a tennis ball at school

    good days!!

  • Comment number 82.

    A few games spring to mind here. Obviously you had 'wall-ball', which was called any name that you wanted- rude or otherwise- and that would be the word that you would spell. Then there was '60-seconds', a variation of 'headers and volleys', but one which you had to get 1 goal, then 2 goals etc within the 60 second time limit, until someone broke the rules and had to go in goal. These rules included kicking the ball straight into the keepers hands, hand-balling it, scoring a goal which wasn't a volley or simply kicking out of play. Additional rules that were sometimes included were that a header would mean you automatically went to the next round, and 'post saves all', meaning that if the ball hits the post or bar on the way into the goal or out of play you just carry on from the goalie with no change whatsoever. My favourite game however was 'corners', a game played mostly in a cage at the park or at the astro-turf 5-a-side pitches. 4-6 people would each have a goal, and 5 lives to begin with. Every goal which you concede means you lose a life, and when you get to 1, you go on 'doggie', meaning you can only get out by a header. The only 2 rules were- you're only allowed one touch, and the first person who has to leave as their Mum has made dinner gets 'beats' from the other players!

  • Comment number 83.

    I can confirm that here in Bedford both World Cup and Headers and Volleys were popular.

    Slight variation in definitions; ‘Teams’ meant we played in pairs and ‘All-Against-All’ meant, well… just that! Like everyone else we had ‘Rush Goalie’ which meant the ‘keeper could play ‘on-pitch’ but we also had ‘Flog Goalie’ which meant that whoever the last man back was acted as ‘keeper. I have no idea where the phrase came from.

    I remember the biggest source of arguments was ‘post’. Whenever the ball rolled over the obligatory jumper-for-goalpost, there would be an inquisition as to whether the ball would have bounced out or if it would have been ‘post-and-in’. Whilst walking my dog last week I was heartened to hear a group of boys having just such an argument (for the record, the consensus on that occasion was that it would have been post-and-in).

  • Comment number 84.

    76. At 13:54pm on 27th Jan 2011, bremmersbantham wrote:

    Kerby was a quality game (made better by the fact I lived in a cul-de-sac so less car traffic!) We also had the extra points for over the head backwards throws.

  • Comment number 85.

    Did anyone else play 40-40?
    One person was the poor so-and-so who had to stand face against the tree/wall/post and count to forty with their eyes closed while everyone else ran off to hide somewhere. We had a playground and paths that went round the whole of our lower-school building so some would go to the lengths of running round the whole school building in order to approach from the opposite side and try and sneak in. We also had a sunken playground, surrounded by a wall, which some people would jump down to and hide behind. What then happened was that the person who had counted then had to linger near their tree as this is what people had to try and get to without being spotted. If you were spotted, the other person had to shout 40, 40, and your name. If you made it, you had to shout 40 40. If you were spotted, then you joined the first person in trying to spot everyone else, and so on and so on.

    Happy Days...

    Max Headroom

  • Comment number 86.

    @85 (surreybloke123)

    Would that be the imfamous game of 40-40 "i see you"? Great game, brings back some memories that does.

  • Comment number 87.

    We used to play 2 football games at school 'Wembley' and 'Fives'.

    Wembley as others have said is one goal, one keeper, and every man or doubles for himself in a free for all and who ever is last in each round goes out. God I miss that hour lunch break at school when we used to play this.

    Fives was when you picked a side of a wall and you would take it in turns to hit the wall with the ball. Every time you missed or touched/ball touches you when it's not your turn you lost one of your 5 lives. It used to be excellent on the side of our schools gym as there was so many ways you could end up needing to do a trick shot as there was no direct line to the wall.

    Please can I be 14 years old again!

  • Comment number 88.


    Yup that sounds the same game, we may have had to say that as well, but can't quite remember now. We once had about 25 of us playing, on a lovely sunny warm day, was brilliant.

    Another one that has come to mind, although I can't remember the name is where you had two teams, and as above, you started off at a particular point like a tree. Actually, it was something like foxes and hounds if I remember correctly. One team did the running, and the other did the chasing. They would run off, with say 5 seconds head start, and you would have to pursue them, sometimes for ages if they were a good runner. Once you caught them, you had to shout something (don't remember what) and bring them back to the start point, which then put them out of the game. If you had unbalanced teams, it would be a massacre.

    Brilliant days...

    Ronald Reagan

  • Comment number 89.

    77. At 13:54pm on 27th Jan 2011, Malink wrote:

    Headers, Volleys AND BEATS!

    I remember at school the game "My son".Essentially it was minor thuggery.Punch in the leg,"Dead leg,my son."

    I think we got that one out of the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad rulebook.

    Endeavor Morse

  • Comment number 90.

    @ 87

    I remember 'fives' as well, but under a different name. If you were feeling particularly mean you could aim the ball so it bounced into people deliberately, leading to people diving all over the place to get out of the way. It was one touch too if I remember correctly.

    Further to the 40-40 game, you had to be tagged to be caught and help the finders, leading to some astonishing races for safety. I remember running into a netball post at full stretch while desperately evading my pursuer. Must have looked hilarious!

  • Comment number 91.

    89. At 14:25pm on 27th Jan 2011, jacksofbuxton wrote:

    That has brought back a memory of a game which was occasionally played (thankfully) which was called 'crop kingdom'. Im not sure whether it was only played in the glossop area or all over but, 'crop kingdom' was essentially wembley but we all encouraged each other to do the worst foul possible, so no shouts of 'pens' all round in this one.

  • Comment number 92.

    88. At 14:25pm on 27th Jan 2011, Surreybloke123 wrote:

    Used to play foxes and hounds at school but I can't remember what you had to say when you caught someone either.

    Pretty nostalgic blog Dan, best blog on the BBC. Is it true this might be lost at the end of the season?

  • Comment number 93.

    Nice one Dan. Makes me wish for double Maths, no lunch and an hour kicking a tennis ball round a concrete netball pitch (14 a side of course)
    To confirm, Devon's version of football-squash was of course SPOT, although we used to call the '2 goals and you're thru free-for-all' Wembley.
    Me and a few mates also had a pretty savage version of the latter, which became commonly known as 'hack footie'...basically one goalie (who could foul or come out) and three or four of you to score 3 to win, but fouls allowed. Penalties all round for handball but the objective was to stop your mate scoring with a dramatic, blatant hack! No broken bones, no blood but loads of bruising and mud :) Brilliant!

  • Comment number 94.


    Same area mate, forgot about Kerby.

    We used to have a rule where if the ball bounced back from the kerb and you caught it, you got to throw again but you could throw from the middle of the road. As long as one foot was in the middle, you could almost do the splits leaning towards the kerb to get closer and rack up the points. Pity kids can't play it nowadays with all the boy racers and chavs whizzing around.

  • Comment number 95.

    World Cup Willy was awesome, esp doubles

    Calvin Broadus

  • Comment number 96.

    I'm 16 and from York, and we play "heads and v's" :D Great fun! Also play 'Cuppie' singles and doubles. Good times :)

  • Comment number 97.

    Also, rush goalies was often changed to 'Monkey Rush' not a clue why though, but it meant anyone could go in nets at any time without notice to the other team! Mugsy, looks like you played hack footie too :) On the whole age theory I reckon most of us are 20s? I'm 26

  • Comment number 98.

    We called it "Wall Ball" and had an old gargae door alongside the metal workshop . Brilliant !! as it had a white frame that made those tight calls easy to make with a wet tennis ball . It was Hawkeye before its time. We had the same World Cup order which was basically alphabetical and I always went after a bloke who wore Cowboy boots !! You either had a restart or high bouncing ball to deal with. We even had lads buying school shoes with a "straighter instep" for wall ball purposes. It was the only game that made me ditch my DM's for some sensible straight edgers from Clarks. Happy days. If you could get on that Garage roof without getting caught the bounty was huge. Best haul was 6 tennis balls .

  • Comment number 99.

    Growing up in Cardiff, we called H&V's 'Cooler'. Don't ask me why!

    We also had a variation of 'Cooler' called 'Tan-Arse'. This was basically the same rules as H&V's or Cooler except the loser of the game had to stand on the goal line, bend over with their trousers pulled down to their ankles and everyone had a 'free shot' to try hit the losers backside with the ball. Quite literally leaving you with a red bottom, or 'tan-arse'!

  • Comment number 100.

    #93. - 'an hour kicking a tennis ball round a concrete netball pitch (14 a side of course)' oh yea, that takes me back, kicking the shins into each other.
    Great blog Dan, bringing back so many fond memories from not just my summer but these chaps as well. Heads and Volleys is of course the king, fortunately we had a field with a goal so we could get away from arguments of whether it was in or over. I made myself (unofficially) crossbar king, to those who didn't want to start in goal in H & V we'd have a crossbar challenge, I think 80% of my attempts in that challenge made in sweetly on the bar. Did anyone else have the same?

    Quentin Tarantino


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