'That Reminds Me' - Sporting Memories

With the return of football (albeit minus crowds) what else could we choose as our topic for this week except sport?!

You don’t have to have won trophies, or be able to demonstrate an encyclopaedic knowledge of cup finals, to take part.

We can all enjoy digging out some sport-related memories, even if they have more to do with the sense of occasion or fashion notes. Newsworthy sporting events sweep us all in one way or another. I bet we all remember where we were when England won the World Cup even if we cannot describe the off-side rule.

If you were taken to watch a live game as a child, I bet you will remember that too. Who did you go with? Where did you go? Do you remember who played, what you heard as well as saw (songs, naughty words?) What it was like standing on the terraces for 90 minutes (assuming these were the days before stadia were fully seated)?

Before any grounds had floodlights, Saturday afternoons were when most professional games took place. In winter, when darkness fell early, kick-off had to be moved forward from the usual 3pm.  Kids got lifted over turnstiles, and if you were lucky a half time treat meant a cup of Bovril or a pie.

If your memory goes back to the days of leather footballs, tied with a lace, you might remember having to blow it up with a bicycle pump. They were incredibly heavy when wet. The studded boots weren’t much better.  Caked with mud they certainly didn’t help with running speed or manoeuvrability. It’s not only football where the equipment has changed of course.  Tennis players have abandoned wooden rackets.  Golfers no longer wield hickory shafted woods and irons aren’t made of iron. Clothing and sports fashion too has changed since the days when all goal-keepers wore yellow jerseys.  Take a tour, from woollen swimming trunks to shiny Lycra and everything in between. As for the fluctuating shortness of shorts…

If you played in a football team was it for your school or with a club, or organisation like the scouts? Or was it out in the street or at a local recreation ground, using jumpers for goalposts?  My husband, a child of the inner-city, remembers games that would go on all day with running scores well into double figures (and sometimes approaching triple!) He also recalls games of cricket with stumps chalked up on a wall.

Did you play rounders, netball, cricket, hockey or rugby under the relentless eye of the school PE teacher? Or were you more inclined to bunk off to the local snooker hall? What about school sports days? From the earliest egg and spoon and three-legged races to inter-school athletics, was there something you particularly enjoyed or were good at? Perhaps you still have a trophy or medal of some kind? I’m sure most of us managed a swimming certificate, measured in yards rather than metres.

What did you wear? Before everyone had trainers, the very best you could aspire to was probably a pair of Dunlop green flash plimsolls!

If you had a favourite team or sporting hero, have you kept hold of any programmes, albums, photographs or autographs?

What’s the biggest sporting event you have ever been to? Who has been to Wembley or Twickenham, Wimbledon or Newmarket?

If this hasn’t already given you hours of fun, nothing should prevent you going off down the running track of memory to explore areas like televised sport. As well as the difficulties of following football and snooker when you only had black and white coverage , try remembering who presented Grandstand, some of the names of  the wrestlers so avidly watched by all sorts of unlikely TV audiences (like your granny) or the hush that had to accompany the football results for anyone who did the Football Pools.  You might remember also the now largely defunct role played by newspapers in  delivering the latest news and results through a special Saturday sporting edition (usually called something like “The Green ‘Un”) or holding up delivery of the evening run to include a vital result in the “Stop Press” section.

Maybe you have always favoured a niche sport, like croquet, skittles or coits? How about beach volleyball? Looking back, we all got introduced to such a small variety of options growing up. Although you can see why schools might not have been in a position to add darts or dressage to the curriculum, it’s hard to understand why exercise to music wasn’t available (in my era at least) to those of us who dreaded  going out in public, in the freezing cold, to wield a hockey stick.

Perhaps you have taken something up later in life, like bowls or golf? Or have you now progressed to a seated form of exercise like that offered by ActivLives? The longer we can all keep physically active the better! For anyone caught up in the enthusiasm for aerobics led by the likes of Jane Fonda and the Green Goddess, there is the abiding memory shiny Lycra leotards and leggings worn with leg-warmers.

As always, add anything relevant to your personal scrapbook or memory box, and do please share any of your stand-out sporting stories with us.  We would love to see your cup-winning pictures (regardless of whether they actually feature a cup).

YOUR CHALLENGE (Should you choose to accept it…)

A couple of weeks ago we made a drawing of our hands to record our working lives.  So this week your challenge is to match this with another drawing, this time featuring one of your feet (or both of them if there’s a long list). Include the games and sports you played and where you played them. Do leave space (a toe perhaps) for something you might have liked to do had you come across it earlier in your life.


 Safety note: to avoid injury, you don’t have to prove your enduring agility by bending down and drawing around your actual foot. You can always take off your shoe and draw round that instead! 

      If you have anything you’d like to share with us, and are happy for us to post onto this page, and our social media pages – please email them over to sam@activlives.org.uk.

      We’d love to hear from you, and make this a fun community activity with loads of people taking part and sharing their stories, photos, comics – and anything else!


      1. Name any of Wisden’s top five cricketers of the 20th One point for each.
      2. Who is the only British female tennis player to have won all four Grand Slam titles? An extra point if you know her full name.
      3. What is the name of the bowling game enjoyed by many ActivLives groups?
      4. Who was the manager when Ipswich Town FC won the FA Cup and the UEFA cup? For an extra point, give the dates of these triumphs (years will do!).
      5. Which athlete, famed for going barefoot, competed for Great Britain and South Africa in (different) Olympic Games?
      6. Which sports are the following associated with?:
      • Michael Jordan
      • Babe Ruth
      • Johnny Wilkinson
      • Seve Ballesteros
      • Stirling Moss
      • Dick Fosbury

      7. Who presented ITV’s popular “Saint and Greavsie” football programme?

        Answers next week

        Last weeks answers:

        1. Based on the books by James Herriott, the BBC TV series that shared its name with the line from a hymn was “All Creatures Great and Small”
        2. Crias are the young of alapacas and llamas.
        3. The song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” was originally recorded by a group called The Tokens
        4. “My Family and Other Animals” was written by Gerald Durrell
        5. There is statue of doctor’s dog Snooks in the seaside town of Aldeburgh.
        6. Tintin’s dog Snowy is a white fox terrier


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