Lacrosse: The National Game of Canada/Chapter 6
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POSTING AND DIRECTING THE PLAYERS.
The men of each side should be posted and directed by the players who tossed up, if they are competent, or by the regular captains. The best way is to have two regularly appointed captains in a club, who always take opposite sides. No one captain can do justice to both sides.
The players most generally take up their positions sans cérémonie, but we would suggest the following prelude: After the sides are chosen, and goals selected, each captain draws his men up, facing each other in the centre of the field, and dresses them as companies in line. The men intended for the attack, and those for the defence, should be on the flank nearest to their posts. The two centres, who should be in the centre of the lines, step out and prepare for facing. At the words "take posts" from the senior captain, the men run to their positions; and when all are in place, the ball is started.
The manner of posting the men at the beginning of a game can have, and needs no absolute rule, as everything depends upon the strength or weakness of the respective sides, the size of the ground, and a variety of seen and unforeseen circumstances. The following diagram illustrates the arrangement generally in favor with the Montreal Club:—
It will be seen that there are seven in favor of the attack, and only five for defence, in anticipation of the ball being taken by the Montreal centre and passing the defence half of the field. If Centre loses it, the balance of power is preserved by the retreat of one or more of the attack, according to the fluctuations of the game. When there are more than twelve men a-side, the links are nearer: the proportion remaining in favor of the attack. Light, active men are the best for the attack; heavy men for defence. Occasionally this rule may be reversed, but rarely. The most important positions are those of the immediate attack and defence, and, perhaps, Nestor's plan of drawing up troops, might serve to illustrate the tactics for Lacrosse,—the best men first and last, and the weakest in the middle. It is difficult to define or particularize "the best man" in a Lacrosse field, as each one has his forte; but the positions in the attack and defence develop a reliableness of play, which is not always seen in fielding, where the men may and venture more, without equal risk.
There is no greater delusion in Lacrosse clubs than to suppose, that because a man has made some mark as a player, he is competent to act as captain. There is a combination of mental and physical qualifications required of him, something parallel to those of a good general. His ability to throw to perfection, to check and dodge, no more qualifies him for a captain, than the most thorough knowledge of drill does a soldier for a commander. Directing the men during the fluctuations of a game is mainly a peculiar mental occupation, and needs something beyond the physical attributes of a player. The principles practised by him in play are no criterion for his conduct as captain. The individual and collective positions of his own men, as well as his opponents, in the various evolutions necessary attack and defence, require to be constantly watched and checked. A captain must know the name of every player of his side, and their special characteristics. Some men are reliable, others risky, others unfortunate. A captain's tactics must depend greatly upon the temperament of his men. Wellington used deployed lines two deep when he had British troops, but at Waterloo he formed the Hessian infantry in columns. With men who thoroughly understand and practice "tacking," or playing to each other, successful movements may be made which would be disaster with raw or egotistic players.
In playing Indians, it is always best not to be independent, but rather to post the men to check their arrangement, as they dispose themselves without relation to their white opponents, and are constantly on the move to get away from the vicinity of checks.
The freedom of movement necessary in following the ball, prevents posting the men with the same exactitude as in cricket. The positions hardly ever remain the same one minute; they are altered many times during a match, to push advantages and frustrate attacks.
When the game is hard against a side, its captain may require to change his men by bringing certain players to the defence, and placing others nearer home. It may be necessary to put some certain men in the vicinity of certain opponents ; but never allow your men to dog or cling to the heels of an opponent in every step, like a pickpocket, or a Fenian assassin.
When a captain's attack is good, and his side has a marked advantage all through, the fixed points may be more ubiquitous, and fewer men left for the defence. When the opponents change theirby crowding in defence or attack, a good captain may see many opportunities for drawing away some of the points, by a careful and quick extension of his men, when one of his side gets the ball. The men should not be left to themselves in such a predicament.
A captain must put his voice at its most distinct pitch. To order with brevity is important. If a man is seen straying away from a certain opponent towards whom the ball is coming, the captain should call out the name of the man, and follow with the words "check right" or "left," as the case may be. If there is a certainty of a dodger losing the ball, the man's name should be called out. and followed by the words "throw;" defining any particular point or man to be thrown to in as few sharp words as possible. Indeed, a captain's duties in a match are so onerous and important, that he should be a practical player and have a good knowledge of the game all through. We wonder that from the ranks, better men have not arisen to make this a specialty.
The following suggestion for a Club Registrar for matches is submitted here, to form part of a captain's duties, or of a special scorer. We have often wished for some record of our early matches on the green, and we think this Register would not only be of lasting interest to Clubs, but, perhaps, tend to check rough and foul play, when men know that it would permanently chronicle their reprimands.
|Match Played at||Date||18|
|Names of Players.||Positions.||Foul Play Declared.|
|1st Game.||1st Game.|
|2||Point.||2nd do.||2nd do.|
|3||Cover-Point.||3rd do.||3rd do.|
|4||Home.||4th do.||4th do.|
|5||Centre.||5th do.||5th do.|