Excerpt from the book: EVERY BOY’S BOOK: A COMPLETE ENCYCLOPÆDIA OF SPORTS AND AMUSEMENTS
Iron hoops have almost superseded the old-fashioned wooden ones, and instead of being trundled with a stick, they are usually guided by an iron hook shaped like the annexed figure. On a cold frosty morning the hoop is an invaluable companion to a boy, as he is enabled by its aid to defy the weather, and dispense with overcoats, comforters, and all such devices for keeping out the wintry wind. Often have we envied our juvenile friends, as they have rushed past us with their hoops, and lamented that custom should prevent grown-up people indulging in the same healthful recreation.
Iron hook for propelling hoop
The proper and legitimate hoop, however, should be made of a stout ashen lath, round on the outside and flat on the inside, and should be well fastened at its point of juncture; it should be in height so as to reach midway between the youngster’s elbow and shoulder, so that he may not have to stoop while striking it. The stick should be about sixteen inches long, and made of tough ash; and, in bowling the hoop, the bowler should strike it vigorously in the centre, and in a direction horizontal with the ground. Such hoop exercise is exceedingly good, and a good run with such a hoop will warm the youth in the very coldest weather.
The games, properly so called, that can be played with the hoop are very few, and not generally known.
Two boys start at different ends of the playground with their hoops, and, meeting in the middle, each endeavours to knock down the hoop of his antagonist, while his own remains upright.
There is no small skill required in this game, for it is not always easy to make the hoops touch each other at all. Then a light hoop has little chance against a heavy one, unless it can strike it sideways, for if it were struck directly in front, it would be certainly upset.
Also, a ready hand at recovering a falling or tottering hoop wins many a game that appears to be hopelessly lost.
Wooden hoops, also, give due exercise to the arm; and there is some tact required in knowing exactly where to strike a hoop, so as to propel it with the greatest force.
This cannot well be done with iron hoops, and forms one of the objections to them. Moreover, boys always complain that they soon lose their round form, and are awkward to bowl. Still, there is something cheering in the ringing sound of an iron hoop, as it rushes along under the pressure of the curved iron rod that is used instead of a hoop-stick; and as long as boys don’t drive them against the legs of unwary passengers, they are very well in their way.
Any number of boys can join in this exciting sport, but they ought all to be provided with hoops as nearly equal in size as possible. At a given signal the players all start together, and each endeavours to reach the winning post (which may be any distant object) before his companions. He who arrives at the winning-post last is generally received with groans, hisses, and other vocal signs of disapprobation.
Bases, called posting-stations, are formed at regular distances, in a large circle or ellipse, and at each base a player is stationed. Every player, except the hoop-driver, has charge of a base. Let us suppose that there are seven players—A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, and that the latter holds the hoop: the other six players having taken possession of their stations, G now starts from the station belonging to F, and drives the hoop towards A, who waits, with hoop-stick in hand, ready to relieve G of his charge. G stops at the posting-station, while A trundles the hoop to B, who takes charge of it, and delivers it to C. C trundles the hoop to D; D transfers it to E; E delivers it to F; and F conveys it in safety to the first player, G. In this way the game continues, until all the players have worked round the circle five or six times. It is considered very disgraceful to touch the hoop with the hand, or to allow it to fall after it has been started on its journey. The game is rendered much more lively by increasing the number of players, and having two or three hoop-drivers to follow each other from base to base.
This game is almost the same as Encounters. Two boys drive their hoops one against the other, and he whose hoop falls in the encounter is conquered. With eight players this game may be rendered very exciting. Four of the players stand in a row, about six feet apart, and, at a considerable distance, the other four take their stand, facing them. At a given signal each player dashes towards his opponent, and strives to overturn his hoop. The four victors now pair off, and charge two against two. The conquerors then urge their hoops one against the other, and he who succeeds in overturning the hoop of his antagonist wins the game. Wooden hoops are more suitable for Tournament than iron ones, though the game is usually played with the latter.
Five or six boys can play at this game, though only one hoop is required. Chance decides which of the players shall first take the hoop. The other players become turnpike-keepers. Each turnpike is formed of two bricks or stones, placed on the ground, and separated by about three fingers’ breadths. These turnpikes are fixed at regular distances, and their number is regulated by the number of keepers. When all is ready, the first player starts his hoop, and endeavours to drive it through all the turnpikes; should he succeed in this, he turns the hoop, drives it back again, and retains it until it touches one of the turnpikes, the keeper of which now becomes hoop-driver. When a player touches the hoop with his hand, or allows it to fall, he must deliver it up to the nearest turnpike-keeper. Each keeper must stand on that side of his turnpike which is towards the right hand of the hoop-driver, and it therefore follows that he must alter his position when the hoop-driver returns. Should a keeper stand on his wrong side, the driver need not send the hoop through his turnpike. When the players are numerous, there may be two or more hoops driven at once.
Excerpt from the book:
EVERY BOY’S BOOK: A COMPLETE ENCYCLOPÆDIA OF SPORTS AND AMUSEMENTS.
EDITED BY EDMUND ROUTLEDGE.
With more than Six Hundred Illustrations
FROM ORIGINAL DESIGNS.
LONDON: GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,
THE BROADWAY, LUDGATE.
NEW YORK: 416, BROOME STREET.