Jimmy Jimmy Knacker

Jimmy Jimmy Knacker

Jimmy Jimmy Knacker When I was a boy in London in the thirties children did not lead such organised lives as they do today and for a lot of the time you were left to devise your own games and pastimes in back streets, play grounds and parks, if you were lucky enough to live near one. There were lots of formidable park keepers in those days always on the look out for skylarking boys so streets and school playgrounds were the favourite.. Usually these pastimes often involved rushing about to get rid of the surplus energy that a healthy boy should have and one game was called Jimmy Jimmy Knacker It was a very popular and all you needed to play it was about twelve boys and a brick wall with a space in front of it, so playgrounds were the top favourite.

To play you first needed to select two leaders. I say select but usually you got two boys that were always accepted as leaders in most events, as, I expect, you do today. The leaders then chose their teams one at a time so the teams would be evenly balanced with some small boys and some big in each team.. You then tossed a coin to see who went first and then one leader chose a boy, usually the smallest, to stand with his back to the wall with his legs apart. The rest of the team would then,when told by the leader,put their heads down between the wall boys legs and so on thus making a line of backs.

The leader of the other team would then send his boys up one at a time to leap onto the line of backs,until they were all piled on. When they ere all mounted they would sing out “ Jimmy Jimmy Knacker, one two three. OM Bom Bay Om Bom Bay and away “ and as they did so bounce up and down trying to collapse the team below and if they did so they won. The teams would then change over and do it again and so on

The skill of the game was for the leader of the bending down team to carefully select the position of each of his boys, with the weakest up nearest to the wallboy ,and his strongest boys towards the other end where they might have to take the biggest weight. On the jumping team the leader would know his best jumpers and also his heaviest boys and his aim would be to get as many of his team piled up on the weakest link of the benders, without falling off.Ideally he wanted all six to be one above the other but that neede a lot of doing because after two or three on top of each other they fell off.

The danger of the game was in damage to backs and there was also the danger of getting kicked when they all fell down in a tangled heap. In those days boys wore heavy boots or shoes with the soles covered in metal studs to stop the leather wearing and these two factors made it so dangerous that most schools banned it. Nevertheless it was played with enthusiasm when masters were not about and the fact that they should not be doing it made it even more attractive. .