Alfred Edward Thomas Watson.

The Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes online

. (page 25 of 52)
Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 25 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

schools ; twenty clubs are affiliated to the South of England Lacrosse
Association, these including Bristol and Wills' of the West, where
there are seven clubs playing regularly, while the Midlands have
three clubs in all. A strong start at Cardiff this season gives hope
of the game in Wales, and a revival in Ireland would be very

Although the Manchester and London districts are agreed


in their enthusiasm over a game which gives the fullest oppor-
tunities for the exercise of skill, pace, and endurance, they
differ in regard to the programmes they arrange. In the North,
League matches predominate, and are considered necessary to the
salvation of the game. In the South they were tried and found
wanting, and men are content with ordinary games and a knock-out
competition — the Flags — in the latter part of the season. The
North say that League games make men keener and teams keep
together better when they are played ; the South reply that League
matches supply a false incentive, and lacrosse can stand on its own
merits. The North retort that it is a rare thing for the South to

Digitized by



beat the North, and Leagues might give the South a better chance.
The South point out that the North have in any case a far larger
band of players from whom to select a team. Here are the two
sides of a question which will not be settled by any argument of
mine, and if both divisions are satisfied there is no necessity for
acrimony in the notes of lacrosse writers at a loss for a subject.

The game is soundly governed in this country, and as it is
delightfully free from rules and penalties the controlling bodies are
not greatly exercised in mind regarding doubtful points. Lacrosse
men are not cursed by too much whistle, and it is one of the few

5. *\PLAY"

games which can be played in a fairly satisfactory manner without
a referee. This is, of course, due to the absence of an off-side rule,
which is all that the spectator need know about rules, and explains
the position of the field of twelve a side, with the first attack man
right on to the goal he is attacking. Naturally such a formation
leads to heavy scoring, and reporters of games might reflect on this
when they describe a 10 to 5 victory as an easy win ; it has probably
been a very hard fight from start to finish, with one attack only
slightly the better, and both defences somewhat outclassed.

Digitized by




For the benefit of the uninitiated the following diagram is given
to show lacrosse positions, A being members of one team and B
their opponents : —

I A. Goal. I

A. Point.
S. 1st Home.

A, Cover Point.

B. 2nd Home.

A . Defence Wing.

B. Attack Wing.

A . Attack Wing.

B. Defence Wing.

A. 3rd Man.

B. 3rd Home.

A. Centre.
• Ball.

B. Centre.

A. 3rd Home.

B, 3rd Man.

A . Defence Wing.

B. Attack Wing.

A, Attack Wing.

B. Defence Wing.

A. 2nd Home.

B. Cover Point.

A. 1st Home.

B. Point.

I S. Goal. I

With a defence paired with an attack right up the field, lacrosse
is in a great measure a man-to-man contest, eleven duels in con-
stant progress, and the goalkeepers taking a hand on occasion.

The first photograph gives a good idea of the ''pairing,'*
showing as it does half the field, with the centres facing.

The duels were very marked in the days when a defence man's
great object was to throw the ball hard and far somewhere among
the homes ; then point, cover, and third man often practically sat
on their respective opponents and the ball went to the goalkeeper.
It was excellent defence in those days, but not so noticeable now,
except when there is a bright particular '* star " in a team to be

Digitized by



kept quiet, and his checker has orders practically to confine him-
self to this duty. The photograph "Close Checking" vvas specially
taken to illustrate this, and the ball is coming to the player in the
dark jersey.

In the old game men kept in a great measure to the positions
as shown in the diagram, and attacks played defences' own game by
not wandering much, while a good dodger was considered a brilliant
attack. Now attacks more often than not '* buzz " down on goal in
a body, with the wings wide, and are constantly moving in and out
to trick their opponents, while instead of long shots at goal there is a
continual passing and repassing of the ball at close quarters, until


a man is well placed and sufficiently clear ot opposition to shoot
with good chance of success. Defence wings and third man, too,
assist in forcing the attack, while defence men often work the ball
up by short passes instead of long throws.

There are many more bright incidents in the niodern open
game than in the old, while there has been a remarkable improve-
ment in crosse-handling, the main feature of the game, in the last
few years.

The improvement in modern lacrosse, both from the point ol
view of player and spectator, is entirely due to the valuable lessons

Digitized by



learned from the members of the Toronto team who visited England
in igo2. The Canadians revolutionised English play, showing us
quickly that our old-fashioned methods were useless against modern
tactics ; they taught us the science of backing-up and short passing
both on attack and defence, and, in fact, gave us an inkling of
the real possibilities of lacrosse.

That they beat us all round is a matter of ancient history, but
they did it with new weapons, and introduced to us a more baggy,
more handy, smaller and lighter crosse. Bagginess, when the
new crosse is in action, is shown in some of the photographs in
the article.


After a little preliminary hesitation we were all converted and
altered our rules to admit the new weapon. Now if perchance we
lay loving hands on one of the old-fashioned clumsy implements
with which we performed doughty deeds of old, it is but to wonder
how we could ever have played with such a stick.

With the stick now in general use it is natural that the game
should have improved, for catching is much easier, manoeuvres are
thereby facilitated, and lacrosse gains in pace and brightness. The
new crosse has, in fact, greatly simplified the elements of the game,

Digitized by



while it has added to the skill of match play, and the novice who
troubles to practise can by its aid naore rapidly make himself a
useful member of his team than in former days.

The novice must always find lacrosse harder than other games,
for anybody can kick or hit a ball in some fashion, but crosse work
is an art more difficult to attain. Most of our recruits have to be
taken raw, for schoolboy players are unfortunately rare, and some-
times members of the awkward squad do not surv^ive that first
afternoon's practice undertaken at the instance of some enthusiast.
It is admittedly annoying to find that several feet of netting is not
sufficient to hold a small rubber ball, and that the ball when placed
in the net and thrown does not travel always as the mind of the
novice thrower would direct. But the A B C of the game is now
enormously simplified, and the man who is really keen will get on

Lacrosse is, however, not a game for a " slacker," who con-
siders his Saturday match sufficient, and wonders at the end of his
first season why he is only a second team reserve. Practice, and
constant practice, in crosse-handling must be indulged in by the
man who wishes to be of any real use to his side, and lacrosse
elements can be mastered by individual work. Practice by two or
three men is better, but a few minutes' play daily against a wall,
throwing the ball at the wall and catching it, is invaluable. The
ball comes off at strange angles, and gives opportunities for many
varieties of catches. Should the wall contain windows the progress
made in accuracy may be gauged by the decrease in the amount
of the weekly bill from the glazier.

As the novice becomes proficient he should concentrate his
efforts and chalk out a small space at which to aim ; eventually a
single brick will do, and when he hits it three tinies out of four he
will be within measurable distance of becoming as expert as a famous
attack who killed a fly on the wall of a hostelry ; it was the only fly
on the wall at the time, and its remains are reported to be still pre-
served as evidence of deadly shooting powers. If wall practice or
combined work is not possible, no novice should let a day pass
without a few minutes' manipulation of the crosse, even in a room,
getting accustomed to the feel of the ball in the crosse, tossing the
ball, catching it, and soon. The "slacker" can find any number
of excuses for not practising daily, but the enthusiast will make
opportunities which will prove of the utmost value to him and to his
club when Saturdays come round. He may be cheered by remem-
bering that the best players only keep up their proficiency by con-
stant crosse-handling, and that it is in no respect infra dig. to practise
whenever possible— a point which players of other winter games may

Digitized by



take to heart, particularly with the example of New Zealand expert-
ness in the elements of Rugby football before them.

The fact that so few schools play lacrosse makes the task of
gaining recruits very difficult, particularly in the South, where we have
only The Leys and St. Dunstan's College. It is to the schools that
the authorities of the game should turn their keenest attention when
they are making efforts to add to the number of clubs playing.
Some men might, in their justifiable enthusiasm for lacrosse, advo-
cate its adoption by schools as their only winter game. I do not go
so far as that, but consider lacrosse an admirable game for the


second half of the winter, following on a term of Rugby, than which
there is no better game to turn out good lacrosse recruits. Nothing
knocks the true spirit of sport so thoroughly into boy or man as
Rugby, and there is a good deal of give and take in lacrosse, when
checking is vigorous and close, in which a Rugby player would
revel, and refrain from yapping if he received a knock.

Some points claimed for lacrosse for boys, and publicly advo-
cated by such authorities as Mr. J. C. Isard, of The Leys, are the
desirability of a change of game after Christmas, when football
interest is on the wane; the advisability of keeping from football

Digitized by



injuries in view of athletic sports (prepaxation for which is aided
by the wearing of hght rubber-soled boots instead of heavy football
boots) ; and the more gentle treatment of grounds when lacrosse is
played (in view of the cricket season). These are reasons of practical
utility, and take no note of the fine points of lacrosse as a game
which is full of skill and faster than any other, giving manifest
advantage to boys with their daily facilities for stick-handling and
general fitness as compared with the ordinary week-end sportsman.

9. ladies' lacrosse — POSITION IN CARRYING

However changeable English people may be in their political
opinions, they are very conservative over their games, and the day
is doubtless far distant when lacrosse will attract ;f 1,000 gates in
this country, or its legislators will be compelled to deal with pro-
fessionalism. At present it fortunately remains a purely amateur
pastime ; but Canadian experience, the decent gates in the North,
and occasionally at important matches in the South, show that it
contains every element of popularity. The only drawback is the
small ball, the flight of which is at first difficult to follow ; but the

Digitized by



skill in crosse-handling and manoeuvring, and the pace of the game,
make matters very lively for spectators, who if they became more
numerous Avould doubtless be accommodated on raised stands, the
best point of view being slightly above the players.

The pace of the game makes it difficult to give an adequate idea
of lacrosse by snapshots, but I have been fortunate in having access
to a great number, and No. 4 illustrates excellently some points
in my notes. The others were specially taken, and in Nos. 5 to 8
the photographer has succeeded in getting capital results from
good models (three of the Champion team of the South, 1904-5).
No. 5, ** Play," shows the positions immediately on the word


being given, and is not ** faked " in any way — note the position of
the ball. No. 6 shows a tricky attack, with his crosse held tightly
to his body, attempting but failing to dodge round his opposing
defence, and the goalkeeper awaiting the result. No. 7 gives a
variation in which the attack has got past, and flicked an under-
hand shot through just before his crosse is checked ; the goalkeeper
has tried to stop the ball, but failed. No. 8 is a warning to
dodgers. The man on the ground has been smartly body-checked
and fallen ; his opponent is not executing a war-dance for photo-
graphic purposes, but his position is quite natural, and the ball
was not placed where it is, but fell as the holder of it dropped
his crosse.

Digitized by



It would De discourteous in dealing with modern lacrosse, to
omit reference to the ladies, for the lighter and handier crosse
now in use has made the game possible for them, and by omitting
the violent body-check they have developed a game which by
its grace of movement should in the future appeal to them vw
largely. At present ladies' lacrosse is mainly confined to schools
and colleges, and there are many teams now playing in the South,
some of whom show really excellent form, particularly in neat
crosse-handling and accuracy of short passing. As an outdoor
physical exercise for ladies I consider lacrosse to be unequalled;
but this may be pure prejudice. Perhaps, however, a reproduction
of two photographs taken at Mme. Osterberg's Physical Training
College at Dartford Heath may help to prove the contention that
lacrosse is a graceful and healthy game for ladies (Photographs 9
and 10), as it is a fine, fast, vigorous game for men, containing
manifold opportunities for unlimited pace and skill, and for the
perfect combination which makes for the success of all first-class
team games.


Digitized by



BY '* canadensis"

Mr. Perry's papers on ** Living for Sport on ^f 156 a Year " prompt
me to send you a chapter of my own experience, gleaned in a more
distant field. I have no hesitation in saying that anyone with a
very moderate competence can have a delightful time in Canada
provided he has the qualifying tastes for sport ai^d an outdoor
existence. I would hasten, however, to sound a preliminary note
of warning that a man should carefully weigh his own resources
before he embarks on an unfamiliar method of life, for to one who
for a long period has been accustomed to the regular hours of
business there may be danger in an abrupt change. However,
granted the above income, granted also an inclination for the open
air, a man might do far worse than come out to Canada and
establish himself, as I have done, on a modest little farm.

Here he may find interesting outdoor work all the year round,
a little inexpensive sport, and altogether lead a happier and safer
existence than in being perpetually tossed about in the risky whirl-
pool of what is called business. Should he fancy a paying out-
door occupation without severe manual labour there are cheap
farms, notably in the beautiful Annapolis Valley, a natural apple
orchard its entire length of 100 miles, where if he can set out grafted
saplings and wait a dozen years he can easily clear £1 per fruit tree
each year (augmenting each year after), and easily manage an
orchard of from 200 to 500 or even 1,000 trees.

There may be some to whom the life of the watering-place, be
it cheap or expensive, proves irksome when indulged in for any pro-
tracted period, notwithstanding attractions of golf, cricket, lawn
tennis, and mild field sports ; say, a class of men accustomed to a
more strenuous life, and who enjoy " roughing it " a little. A mem-
ber of such a class, from no fault of his own, may find himself at
middle life thrown out of his line of work with no similar avenue
open. Should he have retained or saved a modest competence, in
some comfortable Canadian farm-house he may find a life not
unsuited to the English temperament.

To borrow a saying of Hookham Frere's, " I love a country
where the Almighty has kept large portions of land in his own
hands." The farm which I occupy is within six miles of a city of
40,000 inhabitants ; yet it is environed with wide tracts of forest and
wastes which are too unproductive for tillage. These are watered by
scores of trout streams and studded with lakes — big and little.
Hence I can, during the season, enjoy good fishing ad lib,, while

Digitized by



with the gun I can pick up almost any autumn day three or four
brace of cock and snipe, and a rufifed grouse or two. One can keep
a pair of beagles for hare-hunting, a foxhound for running wild-cat,
a pointer for warm-weather shooting, and a setter for the late fall.
I have also a working horse and a roadster, a couple of cows, a few
hives of bees, and a poultry yard. I grow all my ovm hay, besides
lots of garden stuff, the surplus of which goes to pay my grocer's
bill. My farm cost 3^350. I pay a man and his wife ^^40 a year to
look after me, and they make me exceedingly comfortable. For
ploughing and hay-making I hire extra help. I spend one or two
days out of each week in the city, and can thus look over all the
English periodicals at the club, and keep in touch with my friends,
who often pay me a visit and sometimes profess to envy me. One
intimate friend spends each week-end at the hrm. Out of my ;f 200,
after meeting all expenses I have sufficient left for a little travel each

This is a slight sketch of a manner of life which may suit some
tastes, and which my experience has proved to be delightful.
Farming, gardening, studying, and writing fill up my vacant hours,
so that I can welcome equally foul weather or fair.

There is a great fascination in living so close to nature, in
watching the procession of the seasons. Each has its own peculiar
charm. Even "torpid and taciturn winter" has its keen outdoor
enjoyments: skating on the frozen lakes, snow-shoeing on the
powdery white wastes, sleighing on the highway worn to a slippery
smoothness by the winter's traffic. Winter is the season for felling
trees and filling up the woodyard.

The return of spring, however, is always eagerly looked for.
The first note of its coming is sounded by the wild geese, passing
over high in the air, bound for their breeding grounds in Baffin's Land
or Hudson's Bay. Soon after on some warm evening the drumming
of the breeding snipe is heard over the lonely marshlands ; a wood-
cock is seen feeding at the brookside ; the faint croakings from little
wayside pools tell that the softer airs are reviving the torpid reptile
life : then little green spears are thrust upwards in the russet fields,
and the migrant birds swarm over the bare pastures. Now the
plough is brought out and planting is presently in full swing. All
thoughts of sport are laid aside until seeding time is over. By this
time the trout are once more rn good condition after the glut of the
may-fly ; and excursions to the lakes with little portable canvas
canoes are in order.

The advent of summer brings many tasks on the farm, a cease-
less warfare against the weeds which if let alone would soon destroy
all prospects of a crop ; yet there is room for a few days on a salmon

Digitized by




stream, and a picnic party now and then. Delightful is the progress
of the summer season. All the countryside becomes adorned with
purple masses of Rhodora and the crimson plumes of the Kalmias.
The forest glades throw gusts of perfume in the face of the wayfarer.
The Linnea vine, the wild cherry, the budding firs, the " balm of
Gilead " poplars, load the air with their heavy-scented fragrance. Of
all summer tasks the gathering of the hay crop is the most important.

Autumn is a season of prolonged and varied enjoyments. The
pleasures of garden, farm, and wood may be alternated. There is a
loud call to the forest and the fields. Game is at its prime. Shall
it be a few days' snipe-shooting with your trusty old friend, the boon
companion of many outings which lie fair in the memory ? Or shall
it be a plunge into the forest with a native Micmac Indian as your
guide to try for a pair of moose antlers for your study walls ? Or a
search on the hills covered with berry-bearing shrubbery for his
majesty the bear ? Exactly as taste and inclination may dictate.

After the Canadian autumn then comes the marvellous '* Indian
summer '* — a brief term of truce to the encroachments of the colds
of winter.

The wheel of the seasons has now come full circle. We are
back again to the time of the blazing log-fire, and the long quiet
evenings over a book. The wild flurry of the winter drift against the
pane is little heeded, while the sputtering logs on the ample hearth
are no bad substitute for the gaudy sunshine of summer.

I have briefly tried to outline the attractions of a mode of life —
v^hich may appeal to some men, certainly not to all — within the
reach of very moderate means. Many men in America who devote
their lives to literary effort have chosen a similar method. I find
it a beautiful and pleasant existence, combining as it does ample
opportunities for reading, sport, and outdoor occupation in farming
and gardening.

There is a wholesome blend of work and play. Undoubtedly
there exists in Canada some subtle charm which strongly attracts
the old-country man. It appeals to many as the most attractive of
all the Colonies. India, **the brightest jewel in the Imperial
Crown," is seldom regarded as a permanent home. South Africa is
a good place to make money in to bring home to spend. Australia
and New Zealand are too remote in the estimation of many, and
generally speaking the climate is too arid. Canada is the nearest
Colony ; its climate and natural features most nearly resemble those
of Britain. Its huge forests, great lakes, and noble rivers, its rolling
prairies and majestic mountains, lend it a flavour of romance. Most
Englishmen when they know it well love it well.

HO. cxxviii. VOL. XXII.— iVar^ 1906 Z

Digitized by




Im their vernacular the Australians have adopted a very loose

nomenclature for the natural objects which surround them. Asa

general rule the names have originated from a vague outward

resemblance to things that were once familiar to their forefathers

in the " old country/' as they still call England. We have learnt

to believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but

occasions may arise wiiere it is altogether undesirable, and this is

certainly so with regard to terminology. The duplicity of a name

will almost invariably be misleading. In this way the Australian

Bustard {Eiipodotis australis) will for all time be wrongly known as

the Wild Turkey, and it would be futile therefore to write of the

bird by any other appellation.

Rather larger than the species that once inhabited the British
Islands, its habits somewhat resemble those of the Great Bustard
{Otis tarda) y and need not be referred to here in detail. With the
increase and spread of civilisation, like their European cousins
they are rapidly reducing in numbers, and it is to be feared at no
dist.'int date they will become entirely extinct in the populated
districts. I have beert informed that this sudden diminution is not
wholly due to the persecution of sportsmen, although doubtless
they may be credited with a share in the business. Upon a certain
station that came especially under my notice in South Australia their
sudden scarcity was found to be contemporaneous with the poisoning
of rabbits by a specially prepared pollard, and the eating of this

Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 25 of 52)