Public School Magazine, December 1900

WITH the return of the football season, one question arises uppermost in every half-back’s heart. This question is: What shall be done to the forward who wings?

This is an age of reforms. The Hooligan claims his daily column of letters from large-souled philanthropists who sing the praises of the “cat,” and prescribe a number of strokes, varying inversely as the square of their philanthrophy, to the light-hearted youth who, in a moment of enthusiasm, eviscerates the local policeman—an act which the doer thereof will be the first to acknowledge thoughtless when the matter is put before him in its proper light. The War Office, the British General, nay, even the South Eastern Railway—all are being reformed.

And, in spite of all this, what notice has the British public taken of a criminal beside whom even the S.E.R. seems praiseworthy? It is a regrettable fact that the first step towards the suppression of the winging forward has yet to be taken.

Let it be done forthwith.

The winger is a blot on our boasted civilization. Mark him as the scrum is formed, how he secures a position on the fringe of the edifice. The ball is put in, the forwards heel, and then begins the performance which turns the half-back’s hair a silvery white. Before he can touch the ball, down comes the foot of the winger with a whizz, taking it away, perhaps in company with one or two fingers, and what was to have been the beginning of a scintillating bit of outside combination, becomes in an instant a Saturnalia of flying kicks, ending inevitably in an off-side against the team which the winger has elected to play for. Or, if this be spared them, the ball is kicked neatly into the hands of their opponents’ best three-quarter, who promptly improves the shining hour with a try.

Little wonder, then, that several of the most famous half-backs in the Public schools (such names as A. B. Smith, C. D. Jones, E. F. Robinson, and—best known, perhaps, of all—G. H. Brown, need little introduction) have banded themselves together into a society for the suppression of this noxious tribe. May they prosper, and may Rule 3 of the society, which enforces on the members the crippling or killing, if possible, of at least one winger per month, prove no mere form of words but a stern reality.

Perhaps the bitterest moment of all for the half-back is when he sees the winger immortalized by a word of praise in the School Magazine. To be a spectator of the outrages of such a player for an hour and ten minutes, exclusive of the interval at half-time, and then to see it set down in cold print that the winger “set a fine example to the forwards, and constantly relieved the pressure with splendid dribbles,” is the sort of thing which makes many a half-back forswear football altogether, and join the Choir or Carpenter’s Shop.

Shall this be our fate, fellow-halves? Never, I hear you shout with one voice. Let us rather join the society I have mentioned. Let us send in our names immediately to A. B. Smith, or his colleagues, enclosing the trifling sum of a shilling as entrance fee. Let us make ourselves the terror of every winger that ever wung, so that the tribe shall die out and be no more seen on the football fields of Britain.

Let us loose the dogs of war with a cheery cry of “havoc!”

Finally let our watchword be “Blood!”



Published unsigned in Public School Magazine; entered by Wodehouse as a “short humorous article on ‘The Winger’ ” in Money Received for Literary Work.

Editor’s note:
South Eastern Railway: Dulwich College is served by the West Dulwich rail station, built 1862 (and originally named Knight’s Hill) as part of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, which was jointly run with the South Eastern Railway from 1899.