Monday, November 20, 2017
To be a top class goal scorer a player needs not only to be able to score when the opportunity presents but even when there is only half a chance. Scoring from the slenderest opportunity places an exclusive band of goal scorers far above the average striker. On a simple goal tally it is obvious more goals are scored in the modern game than was the case in early times. How much of this relates to improved soccer boots and ball technology remains debatable. Players are however, by nature, very superstitious and will go to extraordinary lengths to maintain their run of luck. Whilst performance is dependent on training, confidence and physical conditioning; all athletes feel they need to be in control and often observing superstitions provides this means. Athletes can only partially regulate their physical conditions but can have total control over their superstitious practices before and during a contest. Observed superstitions cause them to experience less anxiety than they would if they did nothing. When something appears to work, prior to success, then it is common not to change that routine. To minimise conflict between the need for a talisman in an environment where such practice is opposed the superstitious behaviour usually becomes covert.
Most actions defy common logic and some are so bazaar as to be noted here. Whilst most admit to being superstitious and doing silly things, like soaking themselves and their new boots in a bath before allowing boots to dry around their feet, many are as quick to dismiss these beliefs. When the accumulation of coaching, training, skill development and fitness are complete all that is required is for the player, is to go out and play. Or so you might think. The surreptitious nature of the game and likelihood of suffering an injury combined with the abject fear of public disgrace particularly when seen by 350 million people puts intolerable pressures on the players.
According to Morris (1981) these factors contribute to why soccer players are so superstitious. They are not alone in the sporting fraternity. The power of superstition is all in the mind and for some players the magic rituals take on astonishing intensity. In the main team mates respect each other's rituals and all avoid tempting fate.
Ritualistic behaviours can start days before the game and these include eating only certain things. Superstitious players will be careful to travel to the stadium observing all taboos as a means of not tempting fate. Prior to the match, Spanish National goal keeper, Pepe Reina (Napoli) on home match days, always tops up his fuel tank at his local garage whether he needs fuel or not. To calm himself down prior to each game, Malvin Kamara (former Sierra Leonean international, Cardiff City and Huddersfield defender) always watched his favourite film, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
Many well known players will only wear certain shoes and socks, and like a young bride, place a sixpence (lucky coin) in their shoes for luck. England national team player, Phil Jones (Manchester United) always puts his socks on in accordance with whether his team has a home or away fixture. The left sock goes on first at a home fixture and visa versa when he is playing away.
Some personally polish their playing boots in preparation before the match. This menial task is usually reserved to apprentice players or boot boys. Alcohol, usually spirits, plays a role, and Desmond Morris, the anthropologist described one player who insisted on dosing the tips of his boots, one with whisky and the other water.
The most intense time for ritualism is in the changing rooms. Some players insist on entering the changing rooms in a particular way most of, which involves walking through the boot room. Lucky shoes, socks, and even laces all form part of the rituals, religiously followed by those seeking the good fortunes of fate. The manner the clothing is put on often become ritualistic. Some players are known to put on socks and boots and nothing else well before the game. They sit quietly psyching themselves up to a peak performance. This might involve a nip of whisky or their favourite tipple to further concentrate their mind. Putting on the left sock first before the right, or the right boot before the left. Lacing boots can become a ritual with players lacing and unlacing their boots multiple times before the game.
Some players insist on eating and Billy Bremner (former captain of Leeds United and Scotland) was famous for eating a plateful of baked beans before every game.
Former Chelsea striker, Adrian Mutu always always wore his underpants inside out and Morris reported the clothing of others could also become a focus to the superstitious. For example some players needed to see their coach wear socks of their lucky colour before they would take to the field. This fetishism extends to the shoes worn by the coach and the author described a ceremoniously fastened of the coach's shoe by one of the players as pre-match necessity before the team would leave the dressing rooms.
World Cup winner, Bobby Moore (West Ham) used to wait for his team-mates to finish changing so he could be the last person to put on his shorts before kick-off.
Another England Captain, John Terry (Aston Villa and Chelsea) always used the same urinal before every match. He insisted on wearing three pairs of football boots per game with a pair to warm up in, a pair for the first half and a pair for the second half. The Nike boots were never worn by him again. Terry would often donate them to the Make a Wish foundation for auction, or give them to fans and mascots, as a keep sake to take home from the game.
The great Johan Cruyff (Ajax) liked to slap his goalkeeper Gert Bals, in the stomach before every game.
Players are ritualistic even in the tunnel leading to the pitch. Some players will head or kick the ball a certain number of times or bounce it off the wall before running onto the field. Probably the most common superstition throughout football is being the last player out of the tunnel before every game. Kolo Toure (former defender for Celtic and Arsenal) always insists on being the last player to come on to the field. He would wait for all his teammates to enter the pitch before he would join them. He like many others, avoided stepping on white lines on the pitch and used the foot corresponding to a home (left) or away (right) fixture. By contrast Ronaldo Nazario (Real Madrid) always stepped into the field with his right foot. Other players who preferred to be last out include Paul Ince (West Ham United and Manchester United) , the beast of Vallecas, Alvaro Negredo (Beşiktaş JK ), and William Gallas (Tottenham Hotspur and Perth Glory).
Once on the pitch another set of ritual behaviour might take place. Players will take their boots off and put them back on again for luck. This is an old Jewish custom when the right shoe was put on first without tying it, then the left sock. The ritual required taking the right shoe off and putting on the right sock, left shoe on tied and back to the right shoe. Many players will kiss their boots or the ground for luck. During the 1998 World Cup, France’s Laurent Blanc kissed the bald head of goalkeeper Fabian Barthez before every match for good luck.
Chewing gum too can play a role Players will roll some players roll their chewing gum into a ball and attempt to kick it. Successful contact means a good game but when the player misses then bad luck will follow. Johan Cruyff like to spit his chewing gum out in the opposition half before kick off.
Many goal scorers have a hair cat before each game to bring them luck. During warm ups some strikers refuse to shoot at goal in order to keep luck on their side. Gary Lineker (England and Tottenham Hotspur ) always changed his jersey at half time especially if he had not scored in the first half . Common enough practice today, but back then, it was unusual.
When Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele) ran into a goal less spell he blamed it on giving his Santos jersey away to a fan after a game. Distraught, he asked one of the club's employees to track the jersey down and bring it back. Once restablied with his old jersey, the player managed to score again. Some years later, however, the employee admitted to having cheated. He had just grabbed a similar jersey from the club's locker room and pretended it was the original.
Players will carry lucky charms including a rabbit's foot or lucky heather. The absence of pockets in playing kits and restrictions on wearing jewellery for safety mean the talisman are slipped into the shoe, or in the case of goal keeper such paraphernalia are tossed into the back of the goal. Former Republic of Ireland keeper, Shay Given (Stoke City) keeps a vial of Lourdes holy water at the back of his goal as a lucky charm.
Former England number one David James (West Ham and Manchester City), always insisted in not speaking to anyone prior to the game. He would only use the urinals if they were empty and regularly spat on the wall for luck. Pepe Reina touched the turf and before crossing himself, would always knock both posts and the crossbar, before pacing out four strides into his six-yard area. As part of his pre-match ritual he liked to limber up with some squat thrusts and a couple of shimmies to get his muscles warm.
In the past many keepers insisted on wearing their old jumpers for luck. This obviously changed in modern times with sponsorship and new strips each season but since the Gunners' 1927 FA Cup final defeat to Cardiff, which was blamed on a greasy new woollen top worn by Dan Lewis, Arsenal's goalkeepers never wear brand new shirts unless they have been washed beforehand.
Players are not allowed to leave the field of play during a game even when nature calls. Several goal keepers have been caught short during a game including German Internationalist, Jens Lehmann (Arsenal), Fabien Barthez (France and Manchester United) and Sergio Goycochea (Argentina) in the quarterfinal of the 1990 World Cup. Taking a leak in public has become a bit of a ritual.
Players prefer to play in boots that are broken in. Not so strange when hidden seams can burst causing painful blisters as well as cuts and abrasions to their feet. In the past, some players preferred to remove design logos from their boots. Manufacturers once alerted to this antic incorporate weaknesses such as hidden seems which tear easily once the company's logo are removed. Boot contracts and bespoke footwear for the top players have more or less stopped this habit but some players will insist their signature boots include their children's names, Prior to boot contracts key players were incentivised to wear novel boots. Alan Ball accepted boot manufacturer Hummel offer to wear their all white boots for £2,000 but when he discovered they were uncomfortable to wear he got young apprentices to paint his Adidas football boots white. All went well until the white washed off and the company withdrew their cash payment.
In 1908 when goal-scoring ace, George Hedley played for Wolverhampton Wanderers he scored a goal against Newcastle causing one of his favourite boots to split. Despite being offered a new pair Hedley steadfastly refused and saw the game to completion with one tattered boot. The player had his favourite boots patched up at least 17 times before eventually and somewhat reluctantly parting with them.
Occassionally the occult plays a role in football and after it was discovered there was a gypsy curse on Birmingham City, the then club secretary, Alan Jones took the unusual step to lift the hex by urinating in all four corners of the pitch at St Andrews. It seemed to work and the Blues started to pick up points again. Cameroon coach Winfried Schafer and his assistant, Thomas Nikono, were less lucky when they were jailed after it was discovered they placed a voodoo curse on their opposition during the 2002 African Nations Cup. During the same competition, Tony Sylva, the Senegal goalkeeper asked a witch doctor to make him some magic paint, and he kept a clean sheet for 448 minutes.
The president of Pisa Football Club, Romeo Anconetani, threw salt on the ground before games brought his team luck. The owner of Cardiff City, Vincent Tan changed the club’s colours to red from the traditional blue to bring luck to club and increase its appeal in the Far East. Red is considered a a lucky colour. He also gave preference for signing players with the number 8 in their birth dates.
The former French national football team manager Raymond Domenech read horoscopes and chose his team squads accordingly. He particularly disliked Scorpio and Leo’s, which effectively ended the career of Robert Pires. Marcelo Bielsa who managed both the bational teams of national teams of Argentina and Chile would regularly ask nuns to pray for his team. Manager of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup Squad, Carlos Salvador Bilardo always called a female fan for luck after she wished him luck before the team won 4-1.
Why so many superstitions involve boots remains unclear but such behaviour as preferring the right or left has been known since antiquity. In Roman and Greek times the left side was considered lucky with one exception and that was when entering a home. Only the right foot could cross the threshold if good luck was to prevail. In rich domiciles there were servants whose sole function (excuse the pun) was to direct all visitors to use their right foot first. They were called footmen and position is still with us today. By the Middle Ages the left side was more associated with bad luck. The origins of "By the left quick march" for example refer to a clear indication no mercy will be extended to the enemy. Soccer players may be extending the same charity to their opponents. For most people left sides are weaker. This is partly explained by neonatal compression of the left leg against the mother's spine in the womb. Attendance to the right foot first may be to favour the stronger side. This would be reversed in the case of left-footed players. One other reason to explain the boot ritual may be the misfortune awaiting those who place their right foot in a left shoe. History records this happened to Augustus Caesar.
"Augustus having an oversight
Put on his left shoe for his right
Had like to have been slain that day
By soldiers mutinying for pay."
Saturday, November 18, 2017
If you were a child of the 60s, you may be forgiven for thinking “Diamonds were a girl’s best friend” but as any fan of Carrie Bradshaw and Sex in the City will confirm, modern girl’s best chums are their shoes. Designers like Manolo Blahnik and Christian Loubin cannot put a foot wrong with their heeled pumps but by far it’s Jimmy Choo who stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to being ‘well heeled.’
The power of product placement (or embedded marketing) and its influence on consumer spending is clearly seen in many box office movies but none more so than the 'Sex in the city' franchise. Tamara Mellon’s clever Coup d'État in placing Jimmy Choo shoes on the character, Carrie Bradshaw‘s dainty feet catapulted the small independent shoe designer into popular focus. Suffice no respectable fashionista would now be without a pair of his shoes. Mellon and Choo have long since parted as business partners but that has not stopped his line in footwear from becoming the best known in the world.
Sex in the City is set in New York City and focuses on lives of four American women, three in their mid-thirties and one in her forties. (pumas and cougars). Carrie Bradshaw and her three best friends, Miranda Hobbes, Charlotte York and Samantha Jones enjoy free and frank exchange on modern living. Shoes are frequently featured and have become a strong metaphor for emancipation. Strange icon you might think especially when tight fitting, high heeled shoes are more suited as symbols restriction and containment.
In popular culture and to the Modern Primitive these icons demonstrate liberty and freedom to choose. . All of which brings us to the burning question are high heeled shoes bad for posture?
In the past medical condemnation of women wearing high heels has been well documented yet there is no evidence to support many of these claims. Seems the demonization of heeled shoes comes down to pure misogyny (distrust of women). Independent research confirms the turning effects on the knee caused by wearing higher heels is significantly less than when flat sensible heels were worn. These findings alone do not confirm heel styles cause knee problems such as arthritis, but do seriously question our belief flat heels are better than raised heels. Other research from Italy suggests wearing heeled shoes can improve pelvic floor muscle tone. Researches found wearing elevated heels (up to 2” or 7cms) relaxed the muscles in the pelvic region increasing their strength and ability to contract. Researchers are keen to follow up these investigations to ascertain whether elevated shoes can assist with continence training and whether wearing heeled shoes prevents the need in some women to actively exercise the pelvic floor muscles.
The association between heel height and increased pelvic tone has a long history (though mostly forgotten and certainly not well understood). Footbinding in China was a means of physically altering the way adult females walked (just like the previous research) the Lotus foot (3 inches in length) changed gait patterns and in doing so had the effect of toning up the pelvic muscles. Experts now believe the practice of footbinding or wearing high heels confirms anatomical features are linked to intimate behaviours of the female kind.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
According to Cochrane Library researchers approximately one in four people are affected by foot pain at any variety of conditions. Custom-made insoles (foot orthoses) can reduce foot pain in some cases according to one study . However, the absence of independent studies has previously called into question the use of customised foot orthoses as a general panacea.
The systematic review of 10 trials involving over 1300 people included only three relating to shoes and insoles. Researchers found custom-made orthoses can relieve foot pain in adults with arthritis, and symptomatic high arched feet. Despite these findings foot orthoses are not considered a panacea and from the scant evidence (see below) the benefit of foot orthotic treatment remains unclear.
Bishop C, Thewlis D, Hillier S (2015) The effect of custom foot orthotics and footwear on first-step pain in people with plantar heel pain: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial Journal of science and medicine in sport.
Burns J, Landorf K B, Ryan M M, Crosbie J, Ouvrier R A, (2007) Interventions for the prevention and treatment of pes cavus
Cambron JA, Dexheimer JM, Duarte M, Freels S (2017) Shoe Orthotics for the Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain: a Randomized Controlled Tria Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Ferber R, Hettinga BA (2016) A comparison of different over-the-counter foot orthotic devices on multi-segment foot biomechanics Prosthetics and orthotics international Lewis J, and Lipp A, (2013) Pressure relieving interventions for preventing and treating diabetic foot ulcers
Mündermann A, Nigg BM, Humble RN, Stefanyshyn DJ (2003)Foot orthotics affect lower extremity kinematics and kinetics during running Clinical biomechanics
Powell M, Seid M, Szer IS (2005) Efficacy of custom foot orthotics in improving pain and functional status in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis: a randomized trial Journal of rheumatology
Reina M, Lafuente G, Munuera PV (2013) Effect of custom-made foot orthoses in female hallux valgus after one-year follow up Prosthetics and orthotics international
Sahar T, Cohen M J, Ne'eman V, Kandel L, Oluwafemi Odebiyi D, Lev I, Brezis M, Lahad A, (2007) Insoles for prevention and treatment of back pain
Until 1883 the cost of shoes had been directly dependent on the cost of employing ‘hand lasters.’ These were crafts men who attached the upper part of a shoe to the sole and a skilled operative could produce 50 pairs of shoes in a working day. They formed the Company of Shoemakers and this body ensured high sums of money were paid to their members’ services. The invention of the shoe-lasting machine by Jan Ernst Matzeliger had an enormous impact on the industry which could now produce between 150 to 700 pairs of shoes a day. With more shoes available the cost of footwear dropped and for the first time in history, ordinary people could afford shoes. In recognition of his accomplishment Jan Ernst Matzeliger was honored on a postage stamp on September 15, 1991.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
A study published in Research in Sports Medicine found there were significant differences between female and male feet. The authors took four hundred and twenty-four feet and four men's running shoe lasts (U.S. women 6.0-9.5), used for the manufacturing of women's shoes. These were scanned in three dimensions and six foot measures were quantified. Using a cluster analysis different foot types were classified then researchers compared last measures and specific foot type measures for eaxch classification. Findings revealed the differences in width measures between lasts and foot types varied substantially (0-9 mm). Width grading ws larger in lasts in comparison with average grading in feet (3.5-5.9 mm). The authors concluded the use of down-graded men's lasts for making women's shoes has to be questioned.
Krauss I, Valiant G, Horstmann T, Grau S. 2010 Comparison of female foot morphology and last design in athletic footwear--are men's lasts appropriate for women? Res Sports Med. 2010 Apr;18(2):140-56.
Monday, November 13, 2017
Zeha Berlin is a German company founded in Weida in Thuringia, East Germany in 1897. Carl Hässner founded the Zeha Leather Manufactory and men's and women's footwear which became fashionable among artists and bohemians in the Weimar Republic of the 1920s. After the war a new factory complex was built in Hohenlauben and the company started to produce football boots. The business quickly grew to become the flagship for sport-shoe manufacture in East Germany.
The brand logo was originally four parallel vertical stripes but it when it was judged to be too close to adidas' three parallel stripes protracted negotiations followed and a gentleman's agreement that two of Zeha's four stripes would be angled diagonally.
Despite adidas being the better known brand professional athletes the world over sought the East German shoes out. By 1960, a remarkable 17 million people in the GDR were wearing Zeha sports shoes. In 1972, the company was taken over by the government. Leather was scarce commodity in East Germany and so the company were keen to improve through research, innovation and improvisation and ran until 1993 before it closed.
In 2003 the company was reserected by two designers, Heine and Barré who bought the origin Carl Hässner's design templates and using cutting edge gtechnology and the finest Italian leather recreated the the legendary models of the past. Catching a wave of nostalgia the shoes began to sell and are now highly prized.
Allen G (2017) Zeha Berlin: The secret history of a sporting giant crushed by the fall of the Berlin wall only to rise again as football hipster heaven Mirror
Sunday, November 12, 2017
A merkin is a pubic wig. In antiquity, only the very powerful women went unshaven, Cleopatra was known for her beautiful, long, luxurious pubic hair, which she proudly wore brushed, oiled, and on full display. A type of pubic wig was worn by others to give outwardly the impression they were high born.
In an effort to avoid pubic lice or disguise signs of crabs and syphilis mid-15th century sex workers took to wearing public wigs. Catherine de Medici, forbade her ladies in waiting, from removing their pubic hair in an endeavour to show her female entourage were pox free. Her close entourage were known to be graceful with their favours for information. The female version of the merkin was usually made of fur, beaver pelts, linen or some soft version of cloth. This was tied next to the body. The term first appeared in print in 1617 and was thought to be derived from malkin - a derogatory term for a lower-class young woman, or from Marykin, a pet form of the female given name Mary.
By the 18th century pubic wigs had become adult playthings frequently washed dried and combed out. By the 19th century it was common for upper class men to collect the pubic hair as a souvenir or token of affection from lovers. Sometimes these were proudly displayed in their hats or collected in a snuff box. It became necessary to cover up any such indiscretion with a merkin expertly made by a trusty wig maker.
Hoochie Coochie dancers first made their appearance in the nineteenth century in the US during the era of the Side Show. In southern USA, the term cooch is a colloquialism for female genitalia. Although the travelling circus was popular these was short lived because of high maintenance costs and absence of financial backers. To maintain public interest, side shows were introduced featuring menagerie animals then later human oddities. By far the most popular of these travelling carnivals was the girlie shows, where young women danced the Hoochie-coochie. Artists were billed with exotic names like Fatima, Farida, and Maryeta and appeared wearing a small vest fastened low on the bosom, and above the short skirt a tantalising bare midriff. Their bodies were heavily ornamented with jewellery, beads and finger cymbals. The girls danced a type of belly dance with rapid shaking of their head. At a time when most women covered up with corsets and long skirts the invitation to see hoochie coochie was just too much to resist and men flocked to the side shows. It was illegal to appear naked on stage and for further titillation some of the dancers wore merkins.
The popularity of the hoochie coochie was such it began to appear in vaudeville, burlesque theatres, saloons, and smokers, around the world. In 1896 a New York dancer by the name of Ashea Wabe was engaged to entertain at a private stag night. When the police were called to the ensuing disturbance the event was widely and somewhat inaccurately reported. Ashea or "Little Egypt” was reported to have danced, au naturel. This was gross sensationalism, but none the less sealed her reputation as a cause célèbre , and more importantly meant the hoochie coochie became synonymous with hot sexy dancing in the public eye. Later the term hoochie coochie was replaced by "strip tease."
After the Second World War, Blaze Starr (1932 - 2015), was the toast of American Burlesque and was nicknamed "The Hottest Blaze in Burlesque", Her striking red hair, voluptuous figure and on-stage enthusiasm combined wiith clever use of stage props went beyond established burlesque routines of the time. She would tease and cajole members of the audience into a frenzy often wearing a merkin. Blaze was arrested for lewdness on several occasions.
Merkins have also been used as stage prop for male actors playing female roles. This was often done to comic effect and would become part of drag sartorial. In 1922, the developing American film industry were keen to avoid government intervention as well as protect Freedom of Speech (the First Amendment). The major motion picture studios formed an organization that would become the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). A self sensorship system called the Hayes Code was introduced to prevent offensive material from being included into American films. By contrast the European film industries had less strict controls with nudity and partial nudity regularly featured. The American were envious of this status and by the 60s merkins were used to overcome restrictive guidelines. Pubic wigs were worn by actors and actresses who either wanted to avoid inadvertent exposure of their genitalia during nude or semi-nude scenes, or a clever rouse by the director to outwit censorship regulations.
Once the closeup nude shot was accepted in drama actors might choose to wear a merkin appropriate to their character. In the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for example, Rooney Mara, wore a merkin to match the colour of her character’s public hair.
Blakemore C., Jennett S., (Eds ) (2003) The Oxford Companion to the Body Oxford University Press.
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Hoochie Coochie dancers first made their appearance in the nineteenth century in the US during the era of the Side Show. The term cooch was a colloquism for female genitalia in the southern USA. Although travelling circuses were popular these was short lived because of high maintenance costs and absence of financial backers. To maintain public interest, side shows were introduced featuring menagerie animals then later human oddities.
Side shows drew large crowds but not without gathering a certain reputation. Perhaps the most famous showman was Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-91), the man attributed to have said, "There's a sucker born every minute."
One of the main attractions of the travelling carnivals was the girlie shows, where young women danced the Hoochie-coochie. This was described by the New York Journal (1893) as "Neither dancing of the head nor the feet." and was thought to have originated in Eastern Europe. The romantic myth was the girls were Ghawazi (or Gypsy prostitutes).
Who could forget Esmeralda in Victor Hugo 's classic Hunchback of Notre Dame The book was written in 1831 and as Quasimodo was bewitched by the gypsy dancer, so too was Joe Soap in the States and it has to be said more than a few Aussie blokes, too.
Artists were billed with exotic names like Fatima, Farida, and Maryeta and would appear wearing a small vest fastened low on the bosom, and above the short skirt a tantalising bare midriff. Their bodies were heavily ornamented with jewellery, beads and finger cymbals.
The girls danced a type of belly dance with rapid shaking of their head. At a time when most women covered up with corsets and long skirts the invitation to see hoochie coochie was just too much to resist and men flocked to the side shows. In 1893 the Hoochie Coochie was even danced at the Chicago fair and the honour fell to Little Egypt.
The popularity of the hoochie coochie was such it began to appear in vaudeville, burlesque theatres, saloons, and smokers, around the world. In 1896 a New York dancer by the name of Ashea Wabe was engaged to entertain at a private stag night. When the police were called to the ensuing disturbance the event was widely and somewhat inaccurately reported. Ashea or "Little Egypt” was reported to have danced, au naturel. This was gross sensationalism, but none the less sealed her reputation as a cause celebrity, and more importantly meant the hoochie coochie became synonymous with hot sexy dancing in the public eye. Later the term hoochie coochie was replaced by "strip tease."
Stencell AW 1999 Girls Show: Into the canvas world of bump and grind Toronto: ECW Press.
Footmen (foot soldiers) or infantry are soldiers who fight with small arms on the ground and are transported to the battlefield. The etymology of ‘infantry” is thought to derive from the same Latin root as 'infant', either via Italian, where it referred to young men who accompanied knights on foot, or via Spanish, where the infantes (royal princes but not heirs to the throne) commanded the footmen, hence known as infanteria.
From antiquity armies have been built around a core of infantry and relied on their feet for operational movements (transportation behind the lines, especially in the pre-industrial era) and tactical movement (movement in battle). At first foot soldiers fought in loosely organized groups under the commanded of individuals within ear shot who would call out orders. The Greeks preferred heavily-armed formations of infantry which fought in rigid formation but by the time of the Romans, legions were lightly-armed and mobile, capable of relocating on the battlefield to exploit advantage.
By the early Middle Ages, combat preference was given to knights (on horseback). Foot soldiers were armed with long spears to counter the long reach of lances used by the cavalry. About 1350 when personal armoury became too heavy to be practical ground fighting was reintroduced and the importance of the archer became apparent. Eventually the bow was replaced by the musketeer as guns became more accurate and require less skill to use.
The introduction of the bayonet marked the beginning of modern infantry and as time progressed and communications and weaponry improved, infantry formations were trained to carry out pre-arranged tactical (silent) manoeuvres in the heat of battle.
By the First World War I (1914-1918), it was recognized the ability of infantry to manoeuvre in constricted terrain unseen was extremely effective. Modern warfare reinforced the importance of protecting the soldiers and saw the development of mechanized infantry in armored vehicles and air assaults. Infantry units are now used to patrol, escort and pursue moving unseen in areas of possible enemy activity to discern enemy deployments and ambush enemy patrols.
Foot soldiers rely on their equipment, weaponry and clothing and that includes their boots. Each theatre of war demands clothing and footwear suitable to the geographical and climatic conditions and foot soldiers' boots have evolved to become some of the most sophisticated footwear on Earth.
The term Digger came to refer to Australian military personnel since the Australian and New Zealand involvement in the Vietnam War (1962-1973) but was previously recorded as being used to describe both Australian and New Zealand soldiers. No one is really sure of the origins of ‘digger’ but some authorities’ think it may have been a nickname given to new recruits from mining areas which they took to the Battle of Gallipoli (1916). There is no written evidence to support this and Australian troops were more commonly known as Kangaroos, or Tommy Kangaroo and sometimes Johnny Kangaroos at this time. Other nicknames included Cobblers, Trooper Redgum and Billjims.
Certainly survival at Gallipoli was dependent on finding suitable cover and fox holes were life saving. Many linked to communicating trenches so the survivors of the nightmare landing may have earned the title because they survived by digging in. Diggers was used as a term of endearment by the British Tommy’s’ in 1916, when they referred to Maori battalions who dug out communicating trenches. After the Battle of the Somme (1916), Australian soldiers generally referred to themselves with pride as "Diggers." By 1917 the name had spread from the New Zealand Division to the Australian Division in the ANZAC Corps and gained general acceptance. The sobriquet 'digger' was commonly used in World War II (1939-1945) to refer to Australian and New Zealand troops who fought side by side but in separate battalions. By the Vietnam War, Australian and New Zealand troops formed combined units and the term Kiwi was used to refer to New Zealanders and the Australians were called diggers.