The Eton Wall “Game”

This English tradition merges modern rugby and football... with a wall

By Sean Sweeney

The Eton Wall Game is enough to convince anyone that the English have little better to do than invent weird sports. Schoolboys, clad in soccer gear, trying to find the most awkward way possible to move a ball against a tilted, stone-wall, have never approached calculus with the same lust. Mosh-pitting until nightfall, matches can take hours or even entire days.

The point of the game is to chase down the loose ball and get it into marked scoring positions. Yet, those quick enough to actually get there first are the ones who end up getting a butt crack on top of their nose.

You might see this bundle of testosterone every once in a while in the average college dorm. Except these Ol’ English boys go at it until their blue and black shirts match their complexions. There are no breaks. Those unlucky enough to end up on the bottom get to eat dirt until they are literally green in the face.

Yet, it’s almost better to be on the bottom of the pile because the boys who are up against the wall end up with shredded elbows and scarred forearms. The pile barely moves; think of a bloated cow, tipped over and unable to flinch, sitting its hiney directly on your face. That’s what these kids endure in order to have some school pride.

Many places around the world don’t need rules to have good competition. They have fun in other ways, you know like chasing a ball of cheese down a hill or weaving around an obstacle course with their wife lofted atop their shoulder. Americans like to score, which is why the shot clock in Armory Square saved basketball, so I doubt the Eton Wall Game would ever catch on here. The last goal was scored over 100 years ago.

Sean Sweeney is a regular contributor to The Greasy Pole.