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Sporting cards

Dickson Orde only did three sets by the look of it. A confectionary company the products were aimed at the younger members of the populous. During the 1960's sweets were considered something for the children rather than the sexually charge objects the advertisers make us believe they are today. After all an ice-cream which is advertised as sex on a stick can have a suitably adult price tag as well.

Anway the sets were issued as follows:

Series of 50, Footballers, 1960.

Series of 25. Ships through the ages, 1961.

Series of 25, Sports of the Countries, 1962.

Of these series the Ships through the ages is the one more difficult to acquire.

I am going to concentrate on the final issue, Sports of the Countries because it makes a nice contrast with some of the cigarette card sets on the subject (check out Sports & Games of Many Lands)

It would seem by the number of references within the set it was inspired by the Olympic Games of 1960.

You would not think fish were really designed for fighting

The art work is pretty medicore but I've seen a lot worse. What does save this set is a richness of colour which improves things no end. Cards are both horizontal and vertical in manner and the national flag of the country in question is tucked away in the corner of the card which is a nice touch.

That said card one does not do so well if this is an educational thought. The card is England and the flag is the Union Jack rather than The Cross of St George. I make the point because Scotland has it's national flag depicted, rather than the Union Jack which consistency would demand. The same being true of Wales card 16.

Anyway unlike fox-hunting and the like England's national game turns out to be Football, which is nice to see some sanity at last. The football player is proudly wearing the three lines on his shirt. In fact the artist has exagerated the emblem till it almost covers the entire shirt. This is a few years before the summer of '66 when they thought it was all over. Ironic words when you look back because after winning the World Cup it has been just about all over for English football but for some heroic defeats where we have been the only country in the world to suffer from poor decisions it would seem.

We all know children can really be the cruellest members of our society, try surviving in a playground with even the most mild of physical or mental affliction and see what kind of child eat child world it is out there. Some of the bloddiest of cards have been produced for children as indeed have television programss so why should this set be any different.

None.

Card 2 is Spain, Bull-Fighting. The card depicts the Matador in some problems with his back against the wall as he sticks one of the '26-inch sticks with barbed points...jabbed in the neck to weaken him.' No pulling the punches on that card then, bet the kids loved it.

Canada take sport mighty seriously with a special desire to do well in Ice-Hockey it seems whereas the Russians take sport very seriously but do rather well in Athletics. I'm not surprised if the illustration is anything to go by the hurdler seems to be in posession of some mighty long legs.

Australia is depicted with the cricket bat, no real arguement there I hope. I only thank my lucky stars they have not really got invloved in beating us hollow at Football yet, that really would be the end but I expect I will live long enough to see it happen.

Interestingly Ireland is depicted as enjoying the game of hurling. If there is anyone out there that has seen a sport other than Hurling depicted as the Irish national game I would be darn glad to hear all about it. I suppose they are the world's greatest exponents of the game but I could not honestly tell you and if I were took look up everything I did not know you would never hear another word out of me. How wise I would appear though.

India gets a mention because of Polo and it gets a mention here because it is a name derived from the Tibetan word 'pupu' which means ball. Churchman, Sports & Games of Many Lands has the same national sport but obviously a different Indian was explaining the game as it is derived from the Tibetan word 'pulu' which means ball. Obviously the Indians were obsessed with balls.

After a reasonably blood free few cards, number nine has Puerto Rico has the national sport of cock fighting, again described as cruel. The skill of the illustrator makes it look like two oven ready chickens are going at it.

Card ten has a mighty interesting bit of information, apparently Hungary entered the most events in the 1960 Olympic games. Store that bit of information away and spring it on some poor fool at the right moment to illicite maximum surprise and fun. That is tip number 412, Franklyn Cards: How to make friends and influence people without really trying.

Hungary are depicted playing water polo which I suppose is only as contrived as a lot of other sports but it seems somehow more so. Is there really a sport called Solo Synchronised Swimming or did I dream that?

Italy, card 13 is seen as a country on bicycles, this is the national sport apparently. Mind you they had just won every Olympic cycling gold medal apart from the Road Race (tip number 413 I believe)

Wales card 16, mentioned previously because of me fussing about national flags (if you think I am being over picky about this issue try going outside now and burning the national flag and see what happens. You'll find most people get unreasonably animated about such things). Anyway the Welsh are depicted playing Rugby. Those were the days; It notes, 'It takes strong men of the type found in Wales to make a good rugby team.' I wonder where all those chaps went then, Australia and New Zealand I suppose, or perhaps South Africa.

Hawaii gets in there because of surfing, which is nice to see a country not normally seen on cards. Book 'em Danno.

Siam is another country which rarely gets a mention but they seem to do things a bit differently out there. Again after some bloodless cards (although the previous card Japan (Judo) seems likely to end in tears) it turns out they have fighting fish competitions over there.

Now really I should have known this because as a younger man I had an aquarium full of tropical fish, or at least I did until I put a terrapin in there, my advice, don't do that. Anyway I had a blood red Siamese fighting fish. I wanted a dark blue one as well but apparently popping two in a tank together was not the wisest thing to do. Pity the shop owner was not so knowledgeable about terrapins. Anyway it is the males doing the fighting (which presumably means women's liberation is not a strong movement in the fish world, perhaps we should tell the seahorses). The description on the back gets the point across if not in perfect English (look at me casting stones). Huge sums of money are wagered on this sport. Two blue ones are depicted on the card which makes you wonder how the things are recognised. It gets worse. I have been known to watch games of American Football but have the same problem with it as I do horse racing. There is a lot of messing about before and after and not a lot happening during these sporting events. American Football has the added problem of I have not got a clue what is happening most of the time. I am only glad I do not have to watch fish fighting the card informs me it can take up to six hours for the death of one fish to finish the bout. Afterwards I expect there is quite a struggle amongst the gamblers as they determine whose fish is still alive.

You would not think fish were really designed for fighting would you, which could explain the length of time taken.

I wrote of my surprise there was a Chinese national in the set Players, Tennis, good to see, but I was surprised to discover they were a tennis playing nation. Well card 21 puts me in my place, keen tennis players in fact notes the card. However the national game is table tennis (which is no surprise considering the general domination they have of this game. A psychology teacher explained the Chinese had the best spatial awareness of any race and that made them good at table tennis.). I would have liked to have seen a bit more nationalistic flavour to the game being played really, table tennis seems a bit of a cop-out for this set, surely there could be something a bit more Chinese orientated.

Those curling stones are heavy which makes me wonder if anyone has dropped one on the ice from any height and managed to end up with their stone at the bottom of the pond. I remember reading somewhere there are rules which apply to events such as stones being split assunder. Obviously the game was pretty brutal in the past, or the stones not quite so good, rather like explodingsnooker balls. Don't you just wish these randon equipment failures still occured to enliven things.
For the record usually made of granite the stones weigh between 35-40 lbs and if the stone does break it is the largest fragment that counts.
In the UK the sport is sometimes played but we used iron 'stones' and these could weigh up to 70 lbs.
Also if the handle leaves the stone before the shot is played the player has to retain the handle if they wish to replay the shot. Am I the only one that finds this interesting?

Switzerland (card 23) has borrowed Scotlands national sport (if Churchmans, Sports & Games in Many lands is to be believed). Curling is the game for them, obviously having had enough of their skiing in the late 1920's. The reverse of the card describes the game as like bowls but with stones with a handle on top (surreal) the illustration leading you to get the rest of the information, like it is played on ice although the stones look a lot smaller than when I remember lifting one.

Card 24, Malaya, the card mentions large parts of it are under British protection and this seems to lead naturally to the idea they play a lot of badminton.

The last card of the series is Scotland and the illustrator has gone wild.

The Highland Games is the sport focused on which might well be fairer than Curling. The card rightly notes that many a sport makes up the highland games but focuses on 'Tossing the Caber' The illustrator chooses just this moment, a fellow in a kilt running forward with what looks like a large party snack cupped in his hands held at waist height just getting ready to toss it.

Reading the reverse you discover the party snack is something rather more substantial being a 14 foot trunk of a fir tree. The winner being the fellow that having picked the trunk up vertically throws it the furthest. I cannot have been the only person to have watched John Noakes have a go at this in some children's program and nearly rupturing himself.

So there you have it a set with some quirks in it but good to see that even a set designed for children has less bloodsport in it than many a pre-war cigarette card set.