‘Not everyone can be a sporting God’
THERE comes a time in every young boy’s life where you realise that you might never play in the FA Cup final, serve for the match at Wimbledon or bowl a maiden over at Lords.
Not everyone can be a sporting God, but in your late teens you can become a local hero if you learn to play pub games.
For some reason Lord Williams’s School never gave me lessons in pool, snooker, darts or bar billiards.
Mr Jones was sadistically happy to send me running in driving rain towards Moreton but why didn’t he tell me to have a game of Crib in the Royal Oak when I got there?
Those are valuable lessons which would have been far more use to me than learning to throw a discus or javelin.
For those of us who have stayed in Oxfordshire for most of our lives the one game they really should add to the syllabus at Lord Bills is Aunt Sally. If anyone has never tried it then it is basically a case of throwing sticks at other sticks balanced on a metal stick.
There are probably other rules but those are the only ones you really need.
You take six sticks the size of rolling pins and lob them the length of an average back garden, aiming to knock a little white ‘doll’ off of the iron pole.
You can’t hit the metal pole as that is an ‘iron’ and doesn’t count.
You have to go and fetch your sticks back (‘weed the garden’) and the important thing is to be a bit rubbish for the first two games but show your true colours in the third because this is the beer leg and is the only one that really matters.
There are leagues all across Oxfordshire and last Friday the Oxfordshire Indoor Aunt Sally Finals were held in Thame.
I was amazed to see how many people were there and what a wide range of ages it attracted.
To be honest when I used to play the stick throwing just got in the way of the drinking, but last week saw some serious competition.
It was ultra competitive and there was some near Olympic standard throwing.
I spoke to an expert who told me that throwing indoors is actually much harder than outdoors because the atmospherics are different.No, I don’t really believe him either, but as the heat intensified and the grand final came closer the idea that this was a serious sport became more feasible.
It may not be the most athletic game you ever see but there is a lot of skill, there are moments of drama and tension and it was proper sport.
A good night, and top sport.
Aunt Sally is the Daddy.