Sheffield retro: Growing up in the 70s conker season was as relevant as the start and finish of the football and cricket seasons
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I know for a fact that wouldn’t have happened when I was a youngster hunting for conkers.
Conkers were never that easy to come by, never.
When I was growing up in the 70s conker season was as relevant as the start and finish of football and cricket seasons.
The start - in the autumn months would be simply signified by conkers turning up in the school yard.
Big crowds of kids would gather in Ellesmere Primary schoolyard to see two gladiators go at it with their specially prepared conkers.
Preparation was key,and could be anything which you thought would make your conkers stronger, harder,and more durable than your opponent's.
We all had our secret guaranteed methods of making our conkers unbeatable,none of this would ever be admitted.
All conkers came to battle as natural as they emerged from their spiky green shell, or so you’d say.
A conker could be a one, a sixer or a twenty.
This number would indicate the number of previous battles won .If you won your conker took on the number of the defeated conker plus your own making yours a 26,and so on.
All extremely important. I also remember the making of the hole, to suspend your conker was also very important.Using a knife or similar item was a big no no as this created a slit leading to splitting and thus weakened your conker.
A clean hole big enough to get a shoelace through was ideal.where would we get shoelaces?
There would be a few kids running around with no laces in their shoes for a while.
As an inner city kid getting conkers was quite difficult, as horse chestnut trees were difficult to come by, then harvesting the conkers was just as difficult.
These trees were never easy to climb, as they rarely had low hanging branches. So all manner of missiles would be used to dislodge our quarry.
This also explained Newton's law to us better than any classroom.-being, what goes up must come down.-This was the main way to get conkers.If you waited for them to come down naturally you’d never see them as someone would always get there before you.
I vividly remember my friend Richard ,coming back from a holiday to Skegness, with a holdall full of conkers.
I remember a scene reminiscent of the Gold rush,when he appeared in the school yard.
He sold them for 1p each – 10p a conker in today's money - making a massive killing,considering average daily pocket money was around five pence a day.
In the current era Conkering has declined considerably.Many schools banning them altogether.
Headteachers were maybe afraid of the legal consequences, if children were injured while playing,or using conkers as weapons.
Do children play conkers these days? I've not seen it played for many years?