What would you do ? (4) The Solution

Here’s the problem from last time:

And the correct solution given on page 2 of the comic is:

“The referee would rule “No goal”. The rules of the game state that the ball must be a certain weight (14-16 ounces). He would then restart the game with a bounced ball at the spot where it was last kicked. The ball would be bounced between two opposing players. “

First, a few words of explanation. 14-16 ounces is between 0.40-0.45 kilos or 340-397 grams. Nowadays a “bounce-up”, as it is popularly known, is no longer contested between two opposing players, because it was found that having two burly men face up to each other and then having a football dropped between them, tended to encourage the players to kick each other rather than the ball. With aching shins, they would then start a punch-up as they argued.

Nowadays, I suspect that the ball would be given to the player who last kicked it with no opponent involved, but I’m not totally 100% sure of that. The “burst ball” has happened a number of times in football history. You can find quite a surprising number if you just google “burst ball in cup final”.

The two most famous times for a burst ball were firstly in 1946 when Charlton reached the FA Cup Final, only to lose 4-1 to Derby County in extra time. When the Derby centre-forward, Jackie Stamps, shot for goal in the closing minutes of normal time, the ball burst en route to the back of the net. A week earlier, when the same sides had met in the League, the match ball had also burst then. Here’s the winning Derby County team, complete with directors, the most important people in any successful football team:

The odds on this bizarre event happening again must have seemed very unlikely, but the following year in 1947, in the first live televised FA Cup final, Charlton reached the Final again, this time beating Burnley by 1-0. And again the ball burst!  The theory at the time was that because of the war, the quality of the leather in the balls was not what it should have been.  Here’s Charlton, in their white and black change kit:



Filed under Derby County, Football, History, Humour, Literature, Personal, Writing

19 responses to “What would you do ? (4) The Solution

  1. The ruling makes no sense to me as the deflated ball would have weighed nearly the same, 14 – 16 oz., as an inflated ball.

    • A reasonable point, but what the official solution should really have mentioned is that the ball has to be inflated. The modern rules, which have not changed much since the 1960s are that the ball should be inflated “of a pressure equal to 0.6 – 1.1 atmosphere (600 – 1,100g/cm2) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in – 15.6 lbs/sq in)”
      I’m not too sure of the numbers, but basically, it has to bounce!

  2. jackchatterley

    I suppose that shooting the referee is not a solution…

  3. I remember a bit of bother with burst balls at the last World Cup finals.

  4. Yes, there was. According to the Daily Mail the ball burst twice in France-Australia, but according to the Express it was three times. Here’s the Mail’s account

  5. Well that sounds logical.
    These “What would you do?” posts make a person think.

  6. Compare the heavy leather rugby balls we used with those of today.

  7. Well that makes sense. I guess it’s occurrence is more frequent than we may think!

    • It may well be, but on the other hand, I used to go to lots of football matches and I never saw a ball burst, and I’ve never seen it on TV either. It could be that burst balls are like buses and you get several at once. This scenario would fit the 1946 Final and the World Cup in Russia. The reason for it is that the FA or FIFA always source the balls for official matches from the same supplier and once the first ball has burst, there may be others.

      • That would certainly make sense too and I guess that maybe the old leather ones were more prone to stitching deterioration as well, which may have accounted for some deflation’s.

  8. Chris Waller

    My dad told me that story of the 1946 FA Cup. He and his brother, and his cousin’s husband Harry, all Derby supporters, went to London to watch the final. Wasn’t there also a player by the name of Dixie Dean who had a formidable kick?

    • There was a player called Dixie Dean who played for Tranmere Rovers and more famously Everton, but he was famous for his heading rather than his shooting. His nickname was Dixie but he preferred to be called “William” or “Bill”, his correct first name. His hair was very dark and extremely curly and his complexion was very dark so many of his team-mates thought that he was a “footballer of colour”. This would not have been difficult in pre-WW1 Liverpool, but William hated the idea and insisted on his correct first name.
      He is mentioned on this website:

  9. Jan

    If you are talking about great headers of the ball go no further than Tommy Lawton. My father would wax lyrical about the great man’s time at Meadow Lane, playing in Div. 3 South.

    In the pre-pre-pre YouTube era, it was all but impossible to watch film of the inter-war greats, but when you see the newsreel of Tommy in action you realize just why he was held in such high esteem. He was beyond magnificent.

    God knows what he would be worth in today’s transfer market, but the cheque would probably involve eight zeros.

    He spent most of his retirement living in Nottingham – if not exactly happily.

    • Yes, I have dim memories of the great man being arrested in a Nottingham shop and there being a great welling up of sympathy for him. As far as I know he used to run the Magna Charta pub which is just after the roundabout where the A612 crosses the road down to Gunthorpe.

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