Years before Disney and Pixar pinched the title of our sport and turned it into children’s film I used to play Wall-e (actually that’s phonetically, it may have been spelt ‘Wall-ee’ but as we never used to have mobile phones to text each other as whether anyone fancied playing it I never once saw it wrote down).
It wasn’t difficult to find a place to play. All was needed was at least two players (you could play solo but that was called ‘practice’) and a wall or a garage door or side of a shed. In fact all you needed was a flat surface, even a kerbstone would suffice if there wasn’t anything else available. Oh and you needed a ball of course !
The object was simple, one of you would kick the ball against the wall and the other would try to follow the path of the rebound and then kick it back against the same wall and so on and so on until someone missed and the ball didn’t make it back to the wall. You weren’t allowed to stop the ball before kicking it back but the ‘rules’ did allow for the ball to stop naturally – the problem being with employing this tactic is this distance from the wall could be quite a long way away at times making the return shot very difficult.
I must have played the game thousands of times with only one mishap. My friend Ged and I were playing in front of his house against the low wall that separated the pavement from his front garden.
All went well for the first ten minutes or so until faced with a particularly long shot I took aim and let fly with all the power to my kick I could muster.
The ball flew through the air…curving in a slight arc it was heading straight towards its goal….it started to rise as the air got underneath….it was now still heading for the wall but at midriff height…at a height just the same as the top of the wall.
My look of glee as the ball hit the wall was short-lived. It hit the wall okay…right on the top…which launched it onwards towards the living room window which was now the only solid medium in its path.
I wish it actually had been solid like the wall…but it was glass…and it broke…it broke with a very loud ‘SMASH’.
We looked at each other and just as young lads do we did the only thing we could in the circumstances…
…we ran !
We didn’t actually get very far before his mum came out screaming at us both and we sheepishly returned to her, rather forlorn and nervous at the undoubted telling off to come.
But despite the telling off, I still managed to have a little smile to myself…I had won, I had beaten Ged, as there was no way he could kick it back against the wall be it that the ball now lay semi-deflated surrounded by shards of glass at the side of his front room sofa !