Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Johnny Pundit Mourns The Early Bath

Our man from the 1950s wonders where they've hidden the soap

Johnny Pundit: dropped the soap
Johnny Pundit: dropped the soap
Some soap, yesterday
Some soap, yesterday
'Hugger Mugger' Henderson: keen-eyed talent-spotter
'Hugger Mugger' Henderson: keen-eyed talent-spotter
Funny old thing, Football. For instance, 'the early bath'. Thing of the past now, isn't it? More like 'early shower'. Shame: a man can learn a lot about himself sunk into two foot of muddy water with ten other men, naked as the day they were born.
The days before male hygiene
I remember the halcyon days at Upton Park, long before male hygiene, when - having given the opposition a satisfyingly good seeing-to - me and the other chaps would plunge into the team bath, whooping like schoolgirls (I wouldn't have minded a few schoolgirls in with us at the same time — but that's another story! Eh, readers?).
A man's man
One of the trainers at West Ham at that time - name of 'Hugger Mugger' Henderson - always used to come into the changing rooms and keep us company. Nice touch, I always thought. A man's man, he was. Always kept a close eye on how your body was developing. Now I look back, in those days before every club had a doctor, a psychologist, an osteopath and I don't know what else - a philatelist and a sociopath, probably! - I guess it made sense to have someone checking out the players, naked, every week. I can't pretend I didn't get something out of it at the time. Certainly, I learnt to run a lot faster because ol' Hugger Mugger' was around.
The end of an era - again
So it's a shame that the early bath got, well, the early bath. Now I think about it, I must have spent some of the happiest hours of my career in a lukewarm bath with ten naked men. Of course, they wouldn't allow it nowadays — they'd either ban it or give you an Arts Council grant, one or the other. 'Where's the soap?' — 'Doesn't it?' Classic stuff.

Till next time,

Not forgetting behind the ears,

Johnny Pundit

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