It is no wonder soccer is the world’s most popular sport. Everyone understands it and it is played with a round ball. You can understand how I felt back in 1956 after arrival in Australia, finding that not all balls are perfectly round. How anyone could play a sport with an oblong ball that could not be kicked towards where you wanted it, was a blow that I still have trouble in accepting today.
How could a country hold a better future that played such a strange game? In Holland I had never heard of rugby and was only vaguely aware of cricket. No one had warned us. Soon after arrival I met up with an oblong ball. I thought it was a mistake and that the ball somehow was an aberration, a rejection from the ball factory. No, it wasn’t I was told and I was totally unprepared. I went to bed that night with feelings of dread for the future.
We arrived in January and the drone of cricket on the AWA radio was seeping through the suburban venetian blinds on my way to and form work, together with the suspended, dusty and forgotten Christmas cards. ‘All out and in for a duck’ were cricket terms I don’t understand till this day. But, at least the ball was round. It was of some soothing comfort during those difficult times.
Here is an explanation of cricket to a foreigner; ( From tea-towel cricket)
“You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game”
My first job was as a ‘process worker’. The definition of that skill was as incomprehensible as cricket. It mainly included holding broom and sweeping up remnants of worker’s lunches. I was amazed that a meat-pie in Australia could be so callously disregarded, being half eaten. At least, that was of some consolation. In Holland a half eaten pie on the floor would be swarming with kids fighting tooth and nails over ownership and I would win! The others would be out!
I remember the owner of the factory having a wooden leg which used to creak as he walked around. He could well have been a soldier and casualty of WW2, he was a slave driver and everyone would be at his machine when the dreaded creaking came near. I gradually progressed and taught to work on lathes and milling machines. I quite liked being able to turn a piece of steel into an object of use. A new migrant boy would become the holder of a broom and baptised ‘process worker’. He too would be surprised at the half eaten meat pies. Such blatant show of wealth! It had to be a good country, even with oblong balls.
That’s how it was.