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Worldwide interest in stoolball

Saturday 30 April 2005, 11.51am

People are intrigued when they hear of stoolball, particularly if they are not from south-east England. We have had six recent enquiries from around the world that will, hopefully, spread the stoolball gospel.

‘A load of old balls’

The first came from a couple writing a book for English Heritage on old balls used in sport. The project started out as a poster featuring really old sporting balls (from football, rugby, bowls and so on) but, because the topic became so interesting, by the time the couple visited Kay and John Price at their house the poster had developed into a book called ‘A load of old balls’.

They spent nearly three hours taking photos of balls dating back to the 1920s and photocopies of memorabilia. They also bought a stoolball video.

Gulf radio

The next enquiry came from Philip Jay, who does a weekly radio broadcast to the Gulf States. A 30-minute interview was recorded, and broadcast on 6 March 2005. All aspects of the game from 1400 to the present day were covered.

Televised stoolball

The next two enquiries came from TV companies. The first was from the BBC via Peter Cheesman’s son following receipt of our video, ‘Let’s Play Stoolball’. The BBC hopes to produce a programme focusing on the youth side of the game.

This was quickly followed by a request from John Wright of Trans World Sport, who wanted some material on stoolball for the “unusual sports” part of their programme. They have asked to film a game and we have provided them with dates of some interesting fixtures plus, of course, the offer of a video.

The Stoolball Federation of India

Our next and most distant enquiry came from Mr Pravin Manwatkar, representing the stoolball Federation of India based on Kamal Chowk, Nagpur, India. Pravin wants as much information as possible about the game and is anxious for him/them to develop the game throughout India and the rest of Asia!

We shall be sending him our video and rules of the game booklet. He has also issued an invitation to anyone from the stoolball world to visit India and give first-hand instruction. In view of this southern hemisphere interest we would love to hear from anybody who has contacts in or who travels anywhere near the Nagpur district of India.

The French connection

The last enquiry came from Neville Goward and his wife, who are living in France and played their stoolball in Sussex – his wife in Mountfield and he in Haywards Heath.

They volunteer help to teach English to the children in their village and have been asked to demonstrate a typically English game – stoolball, a good choice. We are working out how to get wickets, bats and balls to them in time for a particular school occasion in May.

Being involved with a sporting governing body throws up all sorts of challenges! With all these enquiries we think our modern-day developer of the game, WW Grantham, would be proud. We have been in email correspondence with his grandson, David Grantham, who lives in New Zealand.

Tags: world