Can We Have Our Balls Back, Please, By Julian Norridge

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The Independent Culture

If you're bemused by the British mania for sport (watching rather than participating, of course), it is consoling to learn that this is nothing new. In 1824, a crowd of 30,000 watched the 77-round punch-up between Tom Spring and Jack Langan.

Norridge's brisk canter round games generated in these islands is packed with unsporting behaviour. Lord March, an early member of the Jockey Club, won £250,000 (often by dubious means), which he spent on sex. WG Grace once took three runs when a ball lodged in his shirt.