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28th Jun 2018

Ranking every playground game you used to play as a kid

Wil Jones

Sponsored by TAG in cinemas now

Tag, which is in cinemas this Friday, has a cast that reads like a who’s who of Hollywood’s best current comedy talent: Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, Rashida Jones, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner. But it also has a great premise to hang all those stars around: the true story of a group of mates who have have been playing the same game of tag for the last 28 years.

Ah, tag. It brings back memories of all those playground games that have been passed down from generation to generation. They all had their own local variations and rules that were never codified, but shared through word of mouth. You’d play it with your cousins who lived in the Midlands and they’d do it all wrong.

Looking back as an adult, though, some of them were great, but some were clearly terrible. So here is an accurate ranking of playground games you used to play as a kid.

9: Dodgeball

Dodgeball did give us a classic movie, but let’s face it, it was an American game that none of us really played when we were kids. Plus, when you did actually get to play it (at like some adult ‘ironic’ fun and games night or something later in life), it actually just hurts when you get hit by the ball.

8. Hide and Seek

Sometimes someone would suggest that you’d play hide and seek in the playground, forgetting that it is at its core an outdoor game. Trying to play it on an open, barren playground just ended up with a dinnerlady shouting at someone when they tried to crawl under one of the huts.

7: Dub dub bin

I have been informed my various colleagues that this was apparently a popular  “protect the bases” type game, that usually used a playground bin. We never played it at my school, though, so it’s going near the bottom of this list.

6: Stuck in the mud

This was essentially a variant of tag, but when you got tagged you had stand still with arms out and your legs spread, and you could only be unstuck by someone crawling through your legs. It wasn’t the worst game by any means, but it ultimately just overcomplicates the pure simplicity of tag. Plus crawling on a concrete playground always left you with those tiny  little stones in your hand.

5: British Bulldog

There was always a dark, mysterious cult around British Bulldog. It had an air of danger, like video nasties or Grand Theft Auto did. There were always rumours than a kid from different school died playing the game. And with its gruff, patriotic name (Rest In Peace, Davy Boy Smith), it felt like a game for those who weren’t messing around.

There was a very particular face the dinner ladies would pull once you’d all lined up. They knew they had to stop you, but they couldn’t just dive into the carnage. You were getting away with one round.

4: Kwik Cricket

In my view, cricket is boring game that only exists to give old men a reason to day-drink. In order to get kids into it, they created it the more accessible version with ball that wouldn’t knock out and those hollow blue bats that really let you wallop it. It was a good game.

3: 60 seconds (also incorporating Headers and Volleys)

Obviously, playing a full game of football was better, but if you only had one goal, or a fence, or jumpers for goalposts, 60 seconds was always a good option. It was competitive and required a good level of skill. Its only real downfall was the rules required a good level of concentration and there was always some kid who wouldn’t count properly.

2: Tag

Tag – or Had, or Tig, or It, or whatever it was called at your school – was a game definied by its simplicity. It required no special equipment, could be played with any amount of players, and allowed for infinite variations. There’s a reason the classics never go away.

1: World Cup doubles

World Cup doubles is truly the sport of kings. Forget tactics and formations, it was just pure footballing skill and the connection you had with your partner. Thinking about it, the real World Cup should be like this. Lionel Messi and Sergio Augero versus Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, versus Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, versus Diego Costa and Sergio Ramos, with Manuel Neuer in goal.

That would find the real best in the world. We can’t call Ronaldo the true GOAT until he does it on a concrete playground in Slough.

Tag is in cinemas now