'Trench Football' : patriotic dexterity game

Accession Number REL/10090
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Cardboard, Glass, Metal, Wood
Place made United Kingdom: England
Date made 1915-1916
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

A First World War era framed and glazed patriotic dexterity puzzle entitled "Trench Football" which requires the player to manipulate a small metal ball bearing around a recessed playing course, avoiding the strategically placed holes. To win, the ball must reach the printed goal behind the final hole (really a slot) without dropping into it. The lower recessed course is made from orange card; the only printing on it is "Kick off" at the start and a caricature of the Kaiser at the end. The upper playing board is made from thin plywood, onto which is pasted green printed paper featuring caricatures of prominent German military commanders, sited to coincide with the holes. They are (from the start) "Little Willie" (outside right); "Von Terpitz" (sic) (centre forward); "Von Kluck" (outside left); "Von Bulow" (inside left); "Von Hindenburg" (inside right); "Von Der Goltz" (right half); "Von Moltke" (centre half); "Enver Pasha" (left half); "Count Zeppelin" (right back); "Von Sanders" (left back), and "The Kaiser" as the goal mouth. Either side of the "Goal" are two final holes, simply labelled "behind" with no associated illustration. Under the title are the words "British Design / British Made"; along the base is "Registration Applied For". The entire game is enclosed in a wooden, glazed frame.

The reverse features a printed label with the rules of the game; the manufacturer's initials (R.F.& S.) appear at the end. A small blue retailer's label has been stuck to the top of the rules, and reads "H.E. Guy & Co., / Stationers and Printers / Malvern."

The rules state: 'TRENCH FOOTBALL / THE GREAT INTERNATIONAL GAME / (Registration applied for) / By the Markers of the Sensationally Successful War Game' 'THE SILVER BULLET.' / MODE OF ATTACK
You have a feeble opponent in 'Little Willie' at 'Outside Right'. Loot Ball is his speciality and passing the outsider with the contempt he deserves, you negotiate the skulkier Von Tirpitz (notorious for his foul play) on his first ever appearance in the open as 'Centre Forward'.
Having downed (or drowned) him you pass to your 'Outside Left' and although Von Kluck is now used to being 'left outside' he is an honest thruster but is not clever, and in an important match of recent date he lost his nerve and broke down badly when within shooting distance of goal.
Von Bulow at 'Inside Left', talkative and tricky, can be swept aside with an honest rush.
Von Hindenburg at 'Inside Right' has not been played regularly of late, the Grand Duke having badly shaken his confidence. Competent critics are of opinion that he was greatly overrated, and is not likely to re-gain his form or to give trouble on this or any future occasion.
Von der Goltz, stiff and stodgy at 'Right Half' has never been able to think clearly since the Belgian International outwitted him.
Von Moltke, a poor imitation of the Great Von Moltke has greatly subsided since his quarrel with the goal keeper, and it is unlikely that he will in any way retard the attack.
Enver Pasha of doubtful sanity, at 'Left Half' is, on a pinch, more than likely to attack his own colleagues.
Von Sanders at 'Left Back' is a comparatively new man of unproved merit.
Count Zeppelin at 'Right Back' is the gas-bag of our opponents, he has been badly pricked of late, and is far less dangerous than he appears on paper.
'Lord High Everything, Canting Bully Bill' in 'GOAL' you must keep your eye on, he holds the record for mouth, and foul play.
To obtain a goal you must dodge his mouth, it is the chief difficulty. He has proved himself mentally incapable of understanding the rules of the game or the meaning of fair play. Many complaints have been lodged against him, and it is probable that he will in the near future be 'suspended indefinitely.
Vigour and decision is necessary in dealing with him.'

History / Summary

This First World War dexterity game required the player to carefully move a small ball through the trenches and reaching the ‘goal’ without falling into the many traps on the way. The traps are ‘guarded’ by caricatures of German and Turkish military leaders. The final trap is the largest, consisting of Kaiser Wilhelm’s mouth, which guards the goal. Made in England, this puzzle was available for sale in Australia by late September 1915. The maker, R Farmer & Sons had previously released a similar propaganda game called 'Silver Bullet or the Road to Berlin'.

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