A Badminton Centenary10 August, 2016
As most people know, 1977 has seen celebrations of at least two important centenaries in the world.
In March 1877, there took place the first Cricket Test Match between England and Australia, and in July of the same year saw the first Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon.
This year, 1977, there is also a Badminton centenary, for it was some time in 1877 that the first Laws of Badminton were set in print.
This, we learn from S.M. Massey's "Badminton" - published in 1911, the first text book on the game - was the result of a compilation by one Lieutenant H.O. Selby of the (British) Royal Engineers.
It is believed, though it is not certain, that the booklet was printed and distributed in India, probably at Poona where the game is known to have been very popular as a pastime amongst the British residents, both civil and military.
Indeed, it was referred to as "fashionable Badminton".
The Shakesperian quotation on the title page suggests that some form of printed laws of the game had become necessary, for it read "Here's: law and warrant, lady".
Is it conceivable that the ladies of Poona were inclined to take advantage of their status in an effort to absolve themselves from complying with unwritten custom as to the strict details of playing the game?
In the same year another publication appeared in New York where Badminton had also become known.
This was a book published by the sports goods firm of Peck & Snyder, and it rejoiced in the glorified title of "Guide to Shooting with Bow and Arrow also playing Rules of Lawn Tennis and Badminton".
Whether the "rules" were identical with Lieutenant Selby's is not known, but what can be certain is that neither code can have borne much similarity to the present.
For one thing, in those far-off days Badminton was played on whatever size terrain was available, and by three, four and five players a side; doubles was a 'rarity, and singles quite un-thought of.
Has anybody ever seen, or, better still, possess, a copy of either publication?
Quotations from either would be priceless!
-- World Badminton Oct-Nov 1977