Document of the Month: July 2019
Document of the Month: Photograph, Daily Mail Pushball at Menai Bridge 1931
Reference Number: WSF/399
At first glance one would assume that the circus was in town when this extraordinary image was taken, but no, it is the Daily Mail Pushball that has visited Menai Bridge. So, what exactly is pushball – it is not a circus act or a test of balance, pushball is a game that involved two teams, and the object being to push the ball over the opposing team’s goal line. Bonus points were awarded if the ball was pushed between the goalposts.
Pushball was the brainchild of Moses G Crane of Massachusetts, after watching American Football and deciding that it was dull and that the small brown ball, on the brown pitch, was difficult to see. His solution - invent a game that featured an enormous ball that could not be missed. The pushball was six feet in diameter.
The game was first played in the USA in the 1890s, and by the early twentieth century pushball was introduced to Britain. It was first played at Headingley, and subsequently went on tour. Thousands of people came out to watch this new game, all over the country. The reception was mixed. Players who gave it a go stated that the game was brutal and much harder work than football, but it was deemed exciting to watch by spectators. By the First World War popularity had dwindled and the game was all but forgotten, however in the 1930s, there was something of a revival when The Daily Mail sponsored a Pushball league. It was during this time that this photograph was taken at Menai Bridge.
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