Today’s Star Letters




I’m sure many readers were as fascinated as I was by the article in The Age’s sport section some time ago about the inventor of the penalty kick, William McCrum. You don’t really tend to think of something like the penalty kick as having had an inventor.


I think there should be an ongoing series of related articles on sporting inventions and their originators. I’m looking forward to detailed investigations into the inventors of shin-splints, spitting on the field, the single-nostril or “English-style” nasal clearance, netting, putting shoe polish under your eyes for night games, mouth-guards in team colours, urinating on field during the three-quarter time address, the puck, the raised tennis umpire’s chair, the corner flag, the concept of “football food” that would not be recognised as food anywhere but the football, and whoever came up with playing ice-hockey in three periods.


Incidentally while I think most readers are aware that all the letters and letter-writers in this column are completely fabricated – including this one – I should point out that there really was an article on the inventor of the penalty kick in The Age sport section *, and apparently that really was his name.



Box Hill


(* These non-letters appeared in the paper 10 years ago.)





In answer to the earlier fictitious correspondent’s questions, I can supply one equally fictitious answer.


While commonly known as the “English-style” or “Classic English” nasal clearance, the technique of jettisoning accumulated material from a single-nostril onto the football pitch in full public view was actually first trialled by Phil McClacker in a Scottish Army & Navy Stores Oatmeal Cup quarter-final between Old Dundeeonians and Sporran McRovers in 1887.


Public, press and players all deemed the trial a great success, and the event was captured by a photographer of the day and marketed as a limited edition print. McClacker later died destitute during a grain spillage incident, and left 14 children, none of them his own.


However his technique was adopted by professional team Woebegone Athletic and soon spread across the border to England, where it was enshrined in its rightful place as an essential element of football.


As a footnote it is worth noting that eccentric Edinburgh inventor Hans Zoff-McCleft had, in the Spring of 1885, debuted an earlier version of the technique during a scratch match between the Oak & Cudgels Hotel and a Neighborhood Park Loiterers XI.


However the Zoff-McCleft Method – a double-nostril emission without any use of the hands – was ruled an unconditional failure after its inventor thrice deposited down the front of his own shirt, resulting in him being issued with a yellow card and handkerchief by the referee.



Albert Park




3 thoughts on “Today’s Star Letters

  1. Leapster,
    Any chance you could message me regarding some AOTS podcasts I am missing?
    Id be happy to trade the favour for beer!

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