Origins of the Wall Game

No-one knows the origins of the wall game, or when it first began to be played at Eton. There are references to a similar game being played in the 1750s, but the first written rules only date from 1849.

[ECR 60/6/3/1]

However, this reference from the minute book of the Provost and Fellows records the order to build the wall from Long bridge [also known as Fifteen Arch Bridge] to the corner of Mr Weston’s wall [Stephen Weston, Lower Master 1690 – 1707, Fellow 1707 – 1742, Vice Provost 1721 – 1725]. The Wall is the wall between Slough Road and the Playing Fields.

The order was given on 14 January 1717, so the game cannot have been played before this date.

The game is played alongside it in a strip 5 metres wide and the goals are a door in an adjacent wall and a tree. There are ten players in the team. Many of the positions require a big, strong player as opposing sides try to prevent their opponents moving the ball and a static scrum develops. Cunning tactics may however beat a stronger, heavier side. 

The main match is between Collegers and Oppidans on St Andrew’s Day. No goal has been scored in this match since 1909 but it is possible to win by scoring shies. Other competition comes from scratch teams of masters or OEs. A recent development is interest from pupils of other schools who are studying sports science.

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