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Eton wall game

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The Eton Wall Game | Trans World Sport

In 2006 we went to find out more about this traditional game played within the walls of Eton College.

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Eton Fives

New to Eton Fives? Want to know what it's all about? Take a look at this short film and find out why we think it's just about the best game in the world. For more information, visit
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Eton Field Game (1959)

Eton, Berkshire.



Various shots show boys of Eton College preparing for and playing the 'Field Game', which is apparently a cross between soccer and rugby football, with lots of strange rules added in. Several shots of the scrums and then boys running with the ball. In a weird move, one of the boys takes small steps to the side while dribbling the ball delicately; his team mates walk sideways in a line beside him, each with their hand on the shoulder of the boy next to them.



Another strange part of the game involves most of the boys standing in front of the goal with the ball on the ground before them; three other boys stand one behind the other (with arms hooked over the next one's shoulders) facing the group and jig up and down in unison on the spot before charging towards the ball and boys, creating a scrum - it looks quite comical!



More general shots of the game and young boys watching.



Note: on file is a small booklet giving the rules of the game. Mute neg is badly cut; print used for telecine transfer.
FILM ID:99.19

A VIDEO FROM BRITISH PATHÉ. EXPLORE OUR ONLINE CHANNEL, BRITISH PATHÉ TV. IT'S FULL OF GREAT DOCUMENTARIES, FASCINATING INTERVIEWS, AND CLASSIC MOVIES.

FOR LICENSING ENQUIRIES VISIT

British Pathé also represents the Reuters historical collection, which includes more than 136,000 items from the news agencies Gaumont Graphic (1910-1932), Empire News Bulletin (1926-1930), British Paramount (1931-1957), and Gaumont British (1934-1959), as well as Visnews content from 1957 to the end of 1984. All footage can be viewed on the British Pathé website.
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What is Eton Fives?

In a time when sport is often all about money and big business, it is good to find a game which has barely changed since its creation, nearly two centuries ago.

The rules of fives are similar to squash apart from when the ball hits the buttress. If you fail to hit the ball above the ledge around the court, you lose the point. Like squash, you can only score when you’re serving.

Players wear padded leather gloves since the ball is quite hard. It is only played as a doubles game - two teams of two players. It’s a game of honour and with no umpire or referee, the players must confess their own foul. Not only is it an extremely fast game, but also one of great skill.

Unlike most other sports, it is thought left-handers have a sneaky advantage owing to the design of the court. Better still, the ambidextrous players have an advantage over both, since shots can be played with either hand.
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Eton Fives at Westway

Eton Fives at the Westway Sports Centre, an introduction broadcast on National Television

Eton Field Game

WBS 1st XV - Highlights from Reading and Eton games

October 2009

Eton Rugby Rossyln Park 7s Highlights

The Eton Wall Game - Arguably one of the world's most elite sports.

This mishmash of rugby and soccer has been played in one spot at an exclusive English private school ... for more than 300 years.

It happens on the same strip of land with a long, slightly curved wall down one side and often devolves into a multi-limbed pile of shrieking schoolboys.

Two teams try to get the ball into a scoring zone, then kick it against a target (a garden door for one team and a tree for the other). Sounds simple, until you realize that the method of actually moving the ball into position involves all the players on both teams piling up along the wall and slowly inching the ball upfield, to the extreme discomfort of any players buried in the pile who'll spend 30 minutes having their faces slowly scraped along the mortar.

Every now and again, the ball pops free and someone boots it upfield, which precipitates a crazed scramble to retrieve the ball, whereupon the whole process starts again.

The first recorded incidence of the game being played was in 1766, though the most important game of the year is the St. Andrews Day game, first played in 1844.

Eton Wall Game (1956)

M/Ss of numerous Eton schoolboys walking in the streets around the school near Windsor in Berkshire. M/Ss of a line of boys in striped hats, scarves and socks, and shorts and jumpers; walking across a field with arms linked; the centre boy holds a ball; they walk alongside a wall. Commentator talks of old customs still surviving at the school - like the famous Wall Game. M/S of a crowd of spectators in overcoats; it looks very cold!



C/U of an Eton boy standing with others at the wall; tilt down to show the ball in his hands. M/S of the boys taking off their long stripy scarves and hanging them on hooks on the wall. M/S from the top of the wall as the boys crowd round the referee who starts the game by putting the ball on the ground. M/S of a small group of boys pushing away at the wall; presumably at the ball, in the scrum somewhere; tilt up to show some boys sitting on the top of the wall and watching the game. M/S from the other side of the wall as two boys help another to climb up and sit there.



Various M/Ss from the top of the wall of the boys all pushing against the wall and each other. Commentator explains the object of the game is for one team to push, carry or kick the ball to Windsor, while the other team tries take the ball in the opposite direction. High angle M/S as one boy staggers out from the scrum clutching his head. M/S of the crowd as a boy in Eton school uniform screams encouragement. High angle M/S of the boys pushing each other against the wall - oo-er!



Various shots of the college buildings; statue of King Henry VI in the courtyard, boys and school masters walking about the college and streets around it. More shots of the 'game'; C/U of Henry, Duke of Gloucester; Prince William is just seen next to him. C/U of a boy in a top hat standing in the crowd next to a young girl. High angle shot of the game and the head clutching boy.



Note: on file are news articles and a rule book about the game, plus a guide book about Eton College.
FILM ID:203.09

A VIDEO FROM BRITISH PATHÉ. EXPLORE OUR ONLINE CHANNEL, BRITISH PATHÉ TV. IT'S FULL OF GREAT DOCUMENTARIES, FASCINATING INTERVIEWS, AND CLASSIC MOVIES.

FOR LICENSING ENQUIRIES VISIT

British Pathé also represents the Reuters historical collection, which includes more than 136,000 items from the news agencies Gaumont Graphic (1910-1932), Empire News Bulletin (1926-1930), British Paramount (1931-1957), and Gaumont British (1934-1959), as well as Visnews content from 1957 to the end of 1984. All footage can be viewed on the British Pathé website.
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Eton Wall Game (1921) | BFI National Archive

Eton Wall Game (1921) | BFI. Subscribe:

Goodness knows what the rules are to the Eton Wall Game, but judging by this Topical Budget newsreel footage it makes for a far better spectator sport than the average golf tournament. Played every St. Andrew's Day, it is said that decades have gone by without a goal ever being scored, possibly because there does not even appear to be a goal. Instead the foolhardy players pounce on top of each other with gusto, forming an unruly scrum against a brick wall.

One player known to have taken part in this particular match is a young Eric Blair, who would later become better known under his nom de plume - George Orwell.

All titles on the BFI Films channel are preserved in the vast collections of the BFI National Archive. To find out more about the Archive visit

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