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Street Football 1950's

Bob Foster FIFA football soccer Street Football

Playing in the streets of Barking and Dagenham, hundreds of young players, such as Bobby Moore and Jimmy Greaves, developed a wealth of football skills. Street games were almost a given in most communities up and down the country in the 1950s, however, today they are nonexistent. Coats and jumpers marked the goal; a lamppost provided floodlights if the game was played at night, and the rules were made up as they went.

, for example, full-back goalkeeper. This player's handling distance was often a source of contention. Other disagreements centred on whether the ball had travelled inside or outside the 'coat-post' and over or under the non-existent crossbar.

Frido Vinyl Football of the 1950's era
The balls that were used ranged from the ubiquitous tennis ball to the Frido plastic full-size and deflated (yes the Frido ball was easy punched) football from the 1950's era.


When you first began playing street football, you would be covered in cuts, grazes, and bruises, particularly on your knees and elbows, but as time passed, this was eliminated thanks to tyour newly discovered skill of muscle memory balance and the right way to fall.

The young, underdeveloped football player would often play alone and may sometimes be seen dribbling a little ball along a route or shooting at a target on a wall. It takes expertise to consistently bounce a tennis ball over cemented pavement, but perseverance pays off in the end.
Most of the most renowned players learnt to play with the little bouncing ball when they were very young. The late Duncan Edwards, the England and Manchester United left-half whose career ended tragically, was routinely witnessed dribbling a little ball as a young player, according to the principal of the school where he was educated. Most "natural" football players have always played with a ball whenever they had the opportunity. The ball was completely under control. They were adamant about not giving up and were willing to persist and master the ball after pondering why the ball had spun away from their foot, they vowed to prevent it from happening again.

UK Street Footballers of the 1950's
The street footballers of the day hit the ball exactly where it was needed, in target practice. They were lacking studded boots, a practice space, and a shooting board. They used a wall, fence, or curb as their primary target. Nonetheless, they gained a great lot of experience and understanding of how important it is to maintain eye contact with the ball, which helped the young football player develop strong eye coordination and a responsive manipulating talent.

Due to post-war rationing, the street football player was of a specific height and exceedingly slender; the word obese was unheard of, or was it something from the American comics of the day that was flooding the UK, 
Young football players of today face a lot of pressure from their parents shouting commands from the touch lines during a match. The parents of the 1950's street football players would also yell at them, "Johnny, get in here, your dinner is ready!" during a street game.
England won the 1966 World Cup for the first time, thanks to the street players previously described. Sir Alf Ramsey, who was born and bred in Dagenham and served as manager, describes in his book "Talking Football" how he used to dribble a tiny ball down a country path on his way to school. However, since then, England has lost every major tournament; when this occurs, the headlines cry, "Back to Grass Roots," but that will never happen since there is only one grass roots—you just read about it.


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