Playing Stoolball

Fool Stool Tourney

Stoolball is one of the games I outline in the upcoming book Past Times: Sports and Games of Medieval Europe. It is actually the game that made me interested in historical games. I had recently been told about a game called Tablero and was told by several people that it was completely SCA period, and then by a whole bunch more people that it was completely fabricated by people within the SCA. The debate over the accuracy of games played in the SCA got me curious about games, and I realized that chess and 9 man morris were about the only games regularly played at events. I started digging around and found Stoolball. I won’t go into too much detail on how the game is played as I have written on this subject repeatedly in many other places, this is more reminiscing about some fantastic games of stoolball I have played.

When I was researching how to play stoolball I discovered that there were likely highly regionalized rules so when I run a stoolball game I make the team captains decided on the final rules, the base rules are the same, but the number of stools, and how rough the game can get is all decided on the spot. It makes for an interesting game, and you can always tell someone who has played stoolball before because they add rules that seem so odd, such as no hiding the stools. In my experience stoolball ALWAYS devolves into pure silly fun.

One of the first games I ever organized was in London Ontario with the SCA Group Trinovantia Nova at their annual event Winter War. The game was very well received and everyone was having fun. Because there were kids involved we did not use the soak em rule (which is getting a runner out by throwing the ball at them). At one point the ball was hit and the runner ran, one of the fielding team grabbed the outfield stool and ran away making it impossible for the runner to circle the stool. Both teams laughed themselves silly at this, but eventually the game resumed. During the same game a ball was hit, and the fielding team this time played a bit of a prank on the runner, someone ran off with their arms in front of them making it look like they had the stool, the runner chased the “stool thief” but another fielder with a long dress had lifted her skirt, stood over the stool and lowered her skirt back down so the stool was hidden. The runner finally caught up with the thief and realized that he didn’t have the stool and stood there confused while the pitcher threw the runner out, this maneuver became quite popular, always to hilarious results.

At an event called Fruits of Our Labour in the SCA group Ramshaven (Kitchener Ontario) I began an annual Stool Fool Tourney, the first Stoolball tourney was interesting, only two teams turned up, but we were able to at least play a game. We did make this a no kids game, you had to be over 16 to play in the tourney. The game started out civil enough, as they always do. Midway through the game the ball was hit into the at bat team that were waiting for their turn to hit. They decided to play a little offensive interference to allow their runner to score more points. It turned into one of the largest pileups I have ever seen to scramble for the ball. At one point I was on my hands and knees trying to crawl under the main pile up when I felt someone trying to climb over me, I grabbed the persons leg and flipped them over, I turned back to see it was an older lady, at first I felt bad, but then I noticed she was laughing uncontrollably so I continued to dig for the ball.

The game of stoolball can be quite amusing, if not taken too seriously. Hip checks, full on tackles, interference with the players the balls and/or the stools are all common occurrences depending on the rules. If you’ve never had a chance to play stoolball I highly recommend getting some friends together and playing a game ASAP.


Want to learn more about stoolball, read my article on Medieval Stoolball!

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Lord Cù Allaidh Dona and the Tale of the Dancing Cup


I figured what this blog needs is a dose of humour, and since a man who firmly believes in the old addage “Laugh at yourself and you will never cease to be amused” I will tell the tale that my fiance loves to bring up to anyone new who meets me in the SCA. I suppose for those who are reading my blog but are not familiar with the SCA I should give some background. The SCA is a medieval reenactment group that is focused on Pre 16th century European court. One of the more popular activities is Heavy Combat, or sword fighting in full armour using rattan swords. We use rattan because they mimic the approximate weight of an actual steel sword while minimizing the risk, the swords aren’t padded, so they do hurt if you get hit in an area that is not substantially covered with armour. If you wish to read more read my Beginners Guide to the SCA.

It all began at an event called FOOL or “Fruits of Our Labour”, the event was primarily a teaching event rather than marshal, but that year they planned a torchlight tournament which I thought would be fun, so I brought my armour, or so I thought. It turned out I brought all my armour except my shield, a pretty crucial bit of armour. I managed to borrow a shield from a friend who was not fighting in this tourney as she was taking on a entourage duty at that time (basically walk around with the “King” and/or “Queen” and be all official like).

I began the labourious task of armouring up for battle. When putting my helm on it slipped and slammed into the bridge of my nose leaving quite a nasty gash. Still unperturbed and determined to valiantly fight any foes I quickly ran to the washroom and cleaned up my wound. Upon my return to the field I found that the marshal had examined my helm and found it lacking padding thus declared it illegal to fight in the tournament in that helm. I was crestfallen, I was all geared up but no headgear. Luckily the then King of Ealdormere (Ontario, Canada) was watching and graciously loaned me his helm. The helm fit perfectly snug and tight.

So, finally, the tournament began. There were only four combatants so it was determined the fights would be several rounds of best two out of three. I won the first bout, lost the second, but won the third, meaning I was moving on to fight the winner of the other pair. I lost the first bout, and won the second, it was on the third bout, both myself and my opponent were struggling, fighting our hardest. I knew this opponent well I had fought him many times in practice, but until today I had never bested him, so I was on a high after beating him in the second fight of the second round. We were fighting hard my sword swung at an opening, and I saw his sword coming towards an opening created by my swing, I knew I could not block it, I could only hope his shot would be glancing and mine would would strike true, but we will never know, a hold was called and we stopped. The marshal cried out that there was a foreign object on the field and everyone stopped to see what it was (tripping hazards could be quite dangerous in armour). It appeared someone’s protective cup had made its way onto the field, that is when I noticed a distinct lack of pressure on my groin where my cup should be protecting me from harm. I admitted that the cup was mine, though I have no idea how long it lay there, nor how it managed to come out of it’s strap, but it meant that I would have to do some impromptu equipment repair before I could continue.

I went to remove my borrowed helm to discover that the helm was a little too perfectly fit for my head. The chin strap would not go over my nose. It took a knight, a baron, and a King to pry the helm from my head, yup three men to remove one helm from my massive cranium… Prior to this my SCA name was just Cù Allaidh, but I decided it important to add a descriptive byname to this (before someone else did) Dona means “The Unlucky” thus I became Cù Allaidh Dona


And so ends the tale of Cu Allaidh Dona and the Dancing Cup

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