Sport provided a relatively straightforward means of enjoyment. As Frankie Dale remembers, ‘heard a ball bouncing, away you went’. For those who grew up in the countryside there was no shortage of open space in which to play. The simplicity of the sporting equipment used was recalled by a number of the interviewees.

Cahal Boyd and the Gribbin brothers remembered playing football with a pig’s bladder as a ball. The bladder was a by-product of slaughtering and cleaning out a pig. As Mickey Gribbin explains: ‘In the process of taking the inside out there was a thing called a bladder and the bladder was precious because you could blow up the bladder with a straw … and that was the football.’

Matt Quinn describes playing football as a boy:

We were mad about football. Many’s the time we would have gathered up in some field along here, a lot of us. … What we used to do was to get a bundle of cloth and tie it all up together and play football with it – we hadn’t a ball, but anyhow enjoyed it.

Tom Andrew talks about childhood games:

There’s a field just out beyond our garden there and how my father ever made any use of it … in the summer time we played cricket in it and in the autumn and winter we played football, and at certain times of the year … we tramped around there on the bikes – the nearest we got to cross-country motorcycling. … At this time of the year [June] every night the local guys appeared from far and near and played cricket. The 5-gallon drum was the wicket … the guys were tough nuts, there were no gloves or pads … you stood there and faced the music … the only thing that was real about our cricket was the ball, it was the real thing alright and if you got whacked with it you knew all about it.

While much sporting activity simply took the form of games among friends, some of those interviewed did play at a more formal level. Some of the Gribbins, for instance, played Gaelic football at county level, while Matt Quinn played for his local team, Cargin. William Andrew Turkington played association football for several teams around Ballyclare and Cogry, winning a number of medals. James McAdam started playing hockey when he was 16 and continued to play until he was 60, turning out for Parkview and Antrim.
South Antrim Living Memories Project wishes to acknowledge the assistance of: