At every football game a couple of young boys are standing on the sides of the field and waiting for the balls to come out and then return them in the play. It’s their way to stay near their idols and to step the grass on which maybe, will be themselves models for other children. OK, but like any other thing, the custom with ‘ball boys’ shall have a root somewhere in the football history. Right, it’s quite difficult to determine such things as nobody is really interested in it. But they may be, after they’ll read this, an extraordinary curiosity that I found during navigating on the Internet.
It appears that officially ball boys were introduced in tennis in 1920, at Wimbledon. So, when did they appear in football? Well, it seems like even earlier! In the 1905-1906 season of the English second league at Chelsea – new founded club, to be exact. How?! By accident! Yes, you’ve read well. In that only season the goal of the Londoners was sealed by William Foulke which is reckoned as one of the fattest footballers who ever appeared on a pitch. Reaching at some point even a 150 kilos weight, at 1.93 meters, the goalkeeper was the main source for this strange situation. Why? It’s not very hard to explain or to understand…
Understanding how his appearance was able to intimidate his opponents, the officials from Chelsea came with an idea that will make Foulke look even bigger. Behind of his posts, two little boys were put to stay during matches and so, their minuscule silhouettes were in a perfect contrast with giant William and so the attackers from the adverse team had many moments of surprise and, automatically, hesitation. Yes, this was the main function of those kids but sometimes, when it was necessary, they also returned some balls which went out of the playing surface.
Doing this once, twice, again and again, transformed itself from a pure happening into a ‘must have’ thing during football matches and also games from other sports, including tennis, mentioned above. Exactly, if the story is not a simple exaggeration we can say, without no doubt, that the ‘profession’ of ball boys came in by pure accident. An accident brought in the spotlights by Chelsea, thanks to its mighty goalkeeper who only played one year on Stamford Bridge!
Happy New Year! 2013!