There is a council park in Northmead with a "walled" basketball court. By walled I mean those largish mesh fences that stand 15 feet tall. Basketball is a sport for the very tall of the world, and those people who are able to shoot from far away.
Most of my friends do not have this ability, so we came up with our own game.
Pole Ball is very similar indoor football in nature. The obvious differences being that instead of there being a goal, there is only a pole. Also, we decided that because it was so easy to shoot from pretty well much anywhere, within the circle, everyone is allowed to use their hands in defence of the ball. Other variations follow in that you are allowed to push and shove anyone you want, irrespective of whether they have the ball or not. Oh and did I mention that this also includes pushing people into the wall - also allowed.
You can have a really great shot lined up and be ready to kick when someone will either shoulder you off the ball or worse, someone will come along, shove you in the back and then push your face into the wall.
It's more akin to the original spirit of the game of football, a form of organised mayhem. It's veyr easy to see why in 1314 the then Mayor of London, Nicholas Farndon, issued a proclamation:
"And whereas there is a great uproar in the City through certain tumults arising from the striking of great footballs in the field of the public – from which many evils perchance may arise – which may God forbid – we do command and do forbid, on the King's behalf, upon pain of imprisonment, that such games shall not be practised henceforth within this city."
Admittedly Farndon didn't want shopfronts and windows being destroyed, and certainly by the time the FA was founded in1861, this ancient proclamation was ignored. It does make you wonder what an uncontained football match would look like. It would be very different from the great terraces of today.
Pole Ball at least recaptures the mood with all this pushing and shoving; you get a very fast paced game which doesn't require skill but does require a liberal use of Band-Aids. How many times have we walked away from this covered in scrapes and bruises? If you get out the Dettol to disinfect the wounds, it's like having 15,000 stinging nettles pressed against your skin at once.
Some people will tell you of the pain of losing. I wonder if they played Pole Ball whether they'd also tell of the sting of winning. Pain of imprisonment? I wonder of that is like a grazed knee.