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“ THEY TRUST TO OUR HONOUR.”
number, mostly great big grown men, as Tom thought, surveying them from a distance with awe. The fifth-form behind them, twice their number and not quite so big. These on the left, and on the right the lower fifth, shell, and all the junior forms in order, while up the middle marched the three præpostors.
Then the præpostor who stands by the master calls out the names, beginning with the sixth-form, and as he calls, each boy answers “here” to his name, and walks out. Some of the sixth stop at the door to turn the whole string of boys into the close; it is a great match day, and every boy in the school, will-he nill-he, must be there. The rest of the sixth go forwards into the close, to see that no one escapes by any of the side gates.
Today, however, being the school-house match, none of the school-house præpostors stay by the door to watch for truants of their side ; there is carteblanche to the school-house fags to go where they like. “ They trust to our honour," as East proudly informs Tom; " they know very well that no schoolhouse boy would cut the match. If he did, we'd very soon cut him, I can tell you."
The master of the week being short-sighted, and the præpostors of the week small and not well up to their work, the lower school-boys employ the ten minutes which elapse before their names are called, in pelting one another vigorously with acorns, which fly about in all directions. The small præpostors dash in every now and then, and generally chastise some quiet, timid boy, who is equally afraid of
MARSHALLING FOR FOOTBALL.
acorns and canes, while the principal performers get dexterously out of the way; and so callingover rolls on somehow, much like the big world, punishments lighting on wrong shoulders, and matters going generally in a queer, cross-grained way, but the end coming somehow, which is after all the great point. And now the master of the week has finished, and locked up the big school; and the præpostors of the week come out, sweeping the last remnant of the school fags, who had been loafing about the corners by the fives' court, in hopes of a chance of bolting, before them into the close.
“ Hold the punt-about!” “ To the goals !” are the cries, and all stray balls are impounded by the authorities; and the whole mass of boys moves up towards the two goals, dividing as they go into three bodies. That little band on the left, consisting of from fifteen to twenty boys, Tom amongst them, who are making for the goal under the school-house wall, are the school-house boys who are not to play-up, and have to stay in goal. The larger body moving to the island.goal, are the school-boys in a like prédicament. The great mass in the middle are the players-up, both sides mingled together, they are hanging their jackets, and all who mean real work, their hats, waistcoats, neck-handkerchiefs, and braces, on the railings round the small trees; and there they go by twos and threes up to their respective grounds. There is none of the colour and tastiness of getup, you will perceive, which lends such a life to
FOOTBALL NOW AND THEN.
the present game at Rugby, making the dullest and worst-fought match a pretty sight. Now each house has its own uniform of cap and jersey, of some lively colour; but at the time we are speaking of, plush caps have not yet come in, or uniforms of any sort, except the school-house white trousers, which are abominably cold to-day : let us get to work, bare-headed and girded with our plain leather straps - but we mean business, gentlemen.
And now that the two sides have fairly sundered, and each occupies its own ground, and we get a good look at them, what absurdity is this? You don't mean to say that those fifty or sixty boys in white trousers, many of them quite small, are going to play that huge mass opposite ? Indeed I do, gentlemen ; they're going to try at any rate, and won't make such a bad fight of it either, mark my word ; for hasn't old Brooke won the toss, with his lucky halfpenny, and got choice of goals and kick-off? The new ball you may see lie there quite by itself, in the middle, pointing towards the school or island goal; in another minute it will be well on its way there. Use that minute in remarking how the school-house side is drilled. You will see, in the first place, that the sixth-form boy, who has the charge of goal, has spread his force (the goal-keepers) so as to occupy the whole space behind the goal-posts, at distances of about five yards apart; a safe and well-kept goal is the foundation of all good play. Old Brooke is talking to the captain of quarters ; and 116
OLD BROOKE'S GENERALSHIP.
now he moves away ; see how that youngster spreads his men (the light brigade) carefully over the ground, half-way between their own goal an the body of their own players-up, (the heavy brigade.) These again play in several bodies : there is young Brooke and the bull-dogs — mark them well — they are “ the fighting brigade," the “diehards,” larking about at leap-frog to keep themselves warm, and playing tricks on one another. And on each side of old Brooke, who is now standing in the middle of the ground and just going to kick-off, you see a separate wing of players-up, each with a boy of acknowledged prowess to look to — here Warner, and there Hedge; but over all is old Brooke, absolute as he of Russia, but wisely and bravely ruling over willing and worshipping subjects, a true football king. His faee is earnest and careful as he glances a last time over his array, but full of pluck and hope, the sort of look I hope to see in my general when I go out to fight. - The school side is not organized in the same way. The goal-keepers are all in lumps, any-how and no-how; you can't distinguish between the players-up and the boys in quarters, and there is divided leadership; but with such odds in strength and weight, it must take more than that to hinder them from winning; and so their leaders seem to think, for they let the players-up manage themselves.
But now look, there is a slight move forward of the school-house wings; old Brooke takes half-a
THE 5 ONSET.”-A SCRUMMAGE.
dozen quick steps, and away goes the ball spinning towards the school goal; seventy yards before it touches ground, and at no point above twelve or fifteen feet high, a model kick-off; and the schoolhouse cheer and rush on; the ball is returned, and they meet it and drive it back amongst the masses of the school already in motion. Then the two sides close, and you can see nothing for minutes but a swaying crowd of boys, at one point violently agitated. That is where the ball is, and there are the keen players to be met, and the glory and the hard knocks to be got; you hear the dull thud thud of the ball, and the shouts of " Off your side,” “ Down with him," “ Put him over,” “Bravo.” This is what we call a scrummage, gentlemen, and the first scrummage in a school-house match was no joke in the consulship of Plancus. .
But see! it has broken, the ball is driven out on the school-house side, and a rush of the school carries it past the school-house players-up. “ Look out in quarters,” Brooke's and twenty other voices ring out; no need to call though, the school-house captain of quarters has caught it on the bound, dodges the foremost school-boys who are heading the rush, and sends it back with a good drop-kick well into the enemies' country. And then follows rush upon rush, and scrummage upon scrummage, the ball now driven through into the school-house quarters, and now into the school goal; for the school-house have not lost the advantage which the kick-off and a slight wind gave them at the outset, and are slightly “penning” their adversaries. You say, you don't