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1066 just like one of today’s soccer matches


It must have been more like a modern soccer game, in comparison with today’s battles

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Many years ago, during a visit to England, I was taken to see the battlefield where the actual Battle of Hastings was fought back in 1066, apparently changing the entire course of history. Or so I was told.

“Ten-sixty-six” was the only date I ever remembered during all my school history lessons, but I could never recall what actually happened at that time.

What amazed me most about the battlefield was the small area that was involved and the almost civilised battle story told by the tour guide.

It must have been more like a modern soccer game, in comparison with today’s battles.

“The Saxons lined up here and the Normans were here and the French lined up here, while the Bretons stood here and on this hill people gathered to watch the battle.” (I wondered whether people bought tickets to attend a battle.)

In those days, the “collateral damage” from a battle was less serious than that from a gang fight on the Cape Flats today.

Spectators were relatively safe. Obviously there was no TV coverage or newspapers in 1066 and I suspect the good people of villages like Sandhurst and Bexhill, only a few kilometres away, were completely unaware of what was happening down the road until they heard about it from Charley the shepherd several days later.

Compare this with the drama (and trauma) of a modern soccer match. I am fascinated by the importance many people attach to the game, which makes little sense to me.

Halfway across the globe, some beef-brained and tattooed twit scores a goal, rushes about with arms outstretched like a decapitated chicken and is ritually humped by his teammates, then his team qualifies for the finals.

Far away at the southern tip of Africa, thousands of people cheer and become ritually drunk when their favourite team wins, and probably indulge in some light ritual humping of their own, and immediately start altering their social calendars, cancelling weddings, postponing meetings, and probably rescheduling delicate brain surgery so that they can be settled in front of their flat-screen TV sets in time to watch the finals.

King Harold would have given an arm and a leg for coverage like that.

Unfortunately for him, he missed the second half after that unfortunate arrow foul and the visitors won the contest.

I suppose they went through to the finals. I was never told and my history teacher never mentioned the matter.

Last Laugh

The rugby team had been having a disastrous season and the coach was in despair.

Just before a big match, he called the team together in the changing room and said: “You guys are doing terribly and seem to have forgotten everything I ever told you, so let’s get right back to basics and start from scratch.”

He picked up a rugby ball and held it up. “This,” he said slowly, “is a rugby ball. You can kick it or pass it or run with it.”

One of the forwards put up his hand and said: “Hang on, coach. Not so fast please.”