January 27th – The Final of the Streetball Championships

Today the Mournful Street Runners (the ‘Mourners’) will face off against the Lower Holloway Avenue Dodgers (the ‘Dodgers’) and the Organmaster’s Road Lobbers (the ‘Organ Monkeys’) in the final of the 67th annual Streetball Championship. The Mourners are the underdogs, having never proceeded past the first few rounds of the competition in previous years, whereas the Dodgers are the well-loved favourite, having won 36 championships in all. The Organ Monkeys are a well respected team with seven championships under their collective belt. The meteoric rise of the Dodgers this year is thought to be down primarily to their star player, Cassie Mclauren.

Mclauren apparently had not the remotest interest in the sport, until she was almost hit in the head by one of the ‘streetballs’ themselves (a large, hard and extremely bouncy rubber ball) when she stepped out of her house one sunny morning. In response she executed a perfect ‘triple smash’, bouncing the ball off of three separate surfaces before hitting a player squarely in the chest (breaking said player’s sternum in the process), and after large amounts of praise was eventually persuaded to join the team.

The custom of forming teams from the inhabitants of the City’s streets comes from where the game first came about; the crossing of three back streets (Holloway Avenue, Gripshill Street and Organmaster’s Road). Children from each of these streets would gather at the ‘H’ shaped intersection, where they would play games and (on occasion) fight each other. Around the intersection there are high brick walls from the derelict houses and factories which line the streets. One of the factories produced rubber goods (sink plungers, seals for glass jars, etc.); legend has it that one day a worker on an upper floor was testing the bounciness of a new rubber compound, and was extremely surprised when the large ball he had made for the purpose flew straight out of the window on the first bounce.

The children in the street intersection below devised a game where each team (of an arbitrary number of players) could score points either by hitting another player after bouncing the ball on another surface (the amount of bounces indicated the amount of points gained), or by reaching a line painted at the end of an opposing team’s street whilst still holding the ball (this scores ten points). Anyone hit by the ball had to stop moving for ten seconds. The game ended when everyone got too tired to keep playing. Eventually it became one of the most popular sports in Buentoille.

In the modern times this popularity has led many other streets to field their own teams; many brick enclosures have been built in sports halls and parks around the city to allow more than the inhabitants of the original streets to play. To compete in the official Championships the players must all reside on the street in question, and whilst there are no formal restrictions on the number of players each team may have in play at any given time, the optimum number of players is thought to be around thirty. Experimentation is, however, always occurring; the most players ever fielded by a team was 257, the entire population of Hershalle Road. They were trounced 846 points to 34 by the River Road Rollers.

As well as the addition of extra teams a few other changes have taken place: the game is now played with three separate streetballs, and players are supplied with protective clothing after a number of serious injuries and deaths. The time limit for each game has also been standardised at 79 minutes, the average of the first two hundred recorded matches. Around the original walls various stands and seating arrangements of various heights have been built to accommodate more viewers, often by shearing off the top of the original buildings. The rubber factory (now only producing streetballs) still remains, however, despite yearly complaints that it blocks off half of the view.

Other festivals happening today:

  • BEER GLORIOUS BEER Festival of Fermentation

  • Hester Hanson’s Festival of the Old Book Smell