Crosse (choule)


This is the fourth part of our research about the long and short games of the four European one target stick and ball games.
The French/Belgian game of crosse (crossage) shows that the game was played over long distances as well as over short distances, just as the games of colf, golf and mail.
Click here to find out more about the long and short game of crosse/crossage.

Le jeu de crosse est un jeu plus que centenaire, utilisant une balle et une canne, encore pratiqué dans certains endroits, à la frontière franco-belge. Ce jeu est mentionné dans pratiquement tous les livres d’histoire du golf, sous le nom de « cho(u)le » ou « soule » et est souvent considéré comme le ou un précurseur du golf écossais et du colf flamand/néerlandais. Cliquez ici pour lire le résumé de ce jeu séculaire.

For ages the original crosse/crossage players in the ancient county of Hainaut – the northwest of France and the southwest of Belgium – were mainly farmers. In summer, they were too busy on the fields to play their favorite game. Only in the winter months, they had time to play. If you want to know more about the crosse season, click here.

Aux premiers siècles de l’histoire, les joueurs originaux de la crosse/du crossage sur le territoire de l’ancien comté de Hainaut – le nord-ouest de la France et le sud-ouest de la Belgique – étaient surtout des fermiers. En été, ils étaient trop occupés à labourer leurs champs pour jouer leur jeu favori. En hiver, il y avait plus de temps pour s’amuser aux jeux. Si vous aimerez savoir plus de la saison du jeu de crosse/le crossage tapez ici.

The game of crosse has always been a working class game, without saying that the gentry did not like the game. When a game is popular, there is a good chance that it will be mentioned in one way or another in songs and poems.
In the course of the centuries crosseurs played their game in the vicinity of cafés (often their ‘clubhouse’), where they had a few glasses of wine or beer and sometimes a simple meal.
It is obvious that there existed many ‘pub songs’ to celebrate victory or defeat.
When from the end of the 19th century, crosse societies were founded, many of these societies had club songs. Most of these songs were lost when many of these societies were disbanded in the 1970’s.
An exception is the ‘Marche des Crosseurs’ from 1901 which we present you here, including its sheet of music.
Happy singing!

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Le jeu de crosse a toujours été un jeu pour le peuple, sans que cela veuille dire que la noblesse n’aimât pas aussi y jouer. Quand un jeu est populaire, il y a de fortes chances pour que des chansons ou des poèmes s’en empare.
Au fil des siècles, les crosseurs jouaient aux alentours de leurs bistrots (souvent leur « club house ») là où ils prenaient quelques verres de vin ou de bière et quelquefois un repas simple. Il est évident que beaucoup de chants de bistrot célèbrent la victoire ou la défaite.
Quand à partir de la fin du 19ème siècle, des sociétés de crosse furent fondées, beaucoup d’entre elles eurent leurs chansons de club. La plupart de ces chansons se sont perdues quand, dans les années 1970, beaucoup de sociétés se sont dissoutes.
Une exception est la « Marche des Crosseurs » de 1901 que nous vous présentons ici ; même la feuille de musique a survécu jusqu’à nos jours.
Bon chant !

L’autrefois, le 17 janvier fut une journée spéciale pour tous les crosseurs dans la région de crosse dans l’ancien comté de Hainaut. Beaucoup de croyants faisaient ce jour-là le pèlerinage à Havré aux alentours de la ville de Mons en Belgique ; beaucoup de crosseurs y participaient en jouant à la crosse jusqu’à la chapelle. La dernière célébration de Saint Antoine par les crosseurs eut lieu en 1971. Cliquez ici si vous êtes intéressé dans l’histoire de six siècles de tradition autour de Saint Antoine.

Emile Zola, the famous ‘naturalist’ author, wrote in 1885 the novel ‘Germinal’, a story about a general strike of the coal miners in the French department Nord. In this novel he describes in detail a game of crosse. A local left-wing member of parliament, a university lecturer, invited Zola to visit a strike at Anzin, a dreary black mining community on the outskirts of Valenciennes.
He interviewed miners and their families, visited their homes, went down a mine and listened to strike meetings. It was here that he learnt about the game of crosse. He studied the game here and made notes so that he could use it in his novel. In his book he calls the game crosse.
Here you can the read the parts of ‘Germinal’ in which the game of crosse is described.

Emile Zola, le célèbre auteur naturaliste, écrivit le roman « Germinal » en 1885, une histoire sur une grève générale des mineurs de charbon dans le département du Nord. Dans ce roman, il décrit toute une compétition du jeu de crosse. Un membre de la gauche de l’assemblée régionale, un professeur de faculté, emmena Zola assiste à une grève à Anzin, une ville de mineurs sinistre et noire, près de Valenciennes. Il interviewa des mineurs et leurs familles, visita leurs maisons, descendit dans une mine et écouta des discours de grève. C’est ici, qu’il fit connaissance avec le jeu de crosse. Il l’étudia sur place et prit des notes, qu’il pourrait utiliser plus tard dans son roman. Dans son livre, il appelle ce jeu, le jeu de crosse.
Ici les parties de « Germinal » dans lesquelles Zola décrit le jeu de crosse.

Many expressions and proverbs used in daily life are related to popular sports. The more popular a sport the more phrases arise from it. Flemish/Dutch colf and Belgian/Dutch/French hand-tennis (jeu de paume) have produced many idioms.
Also ‘jeu de crosse’ is the base of many expressions and proverbs, often in the Picard patois, spoken in the crosse regions Borinage, Hainaut and Avesnois. We have collected some of them, many of which are not used anymore in daily life.
Have a look at our collection.

Some time ago we received from Pius Muskens (EAGHC) some cuttings from the Dutch journal ‘Golf’, August 1939. In this issue, J.A. Brongers, the then well known golf and colf historian, discussed a book published in 1718 about an exploratory expedition of Frézier, ‘the engineer of the King of France’, to Chile, Peru and Brazil (‘Reisbeschryving door de Zuid-Zee’ (Travel story through the South Sea) by Isaak Verburg). In Chile, Frézier saw Indians playing left-handed a kind of golf.
Brongers referred to a book called ‘Around Golf’, published in 1939, in which A.M. Vagliano refers to the game of ‘chôle’, played in France, in which game 30% of the players played left-handed, although they were not lefthanders.

01 chileen
During his exploration of South America in 1712-1714, Frézier saw Chilean Indians playing the game of ‘sueca’, hitting a ball with a curbed stick

As ‘Jeu de Crosse’ researchers our interest was aroused by what Vagliano wrote. We mailed Pius to ask him about the ‘Around Golf’ book, but he did not know it. Ayolt Brongers (EAGHC) from the Early Golf Foundation could not help us either. In the meantime we surfed unsuccessfully on the internet. However, we found that A.M. Vagliano once was a famous French amateur golfer and even the president of the French Golf Federation. So we contacted JBK, the former president of the EAGHC, the know-all of French golf. Alas, also Jean-Bernard couldn’t help us. But what he did know was, that André M. Vagliano was the father of our honorary president Lally Segard. He would contact Lally and ask her about the book and the literary qualities of her father. Impatient as we are, we also wrote Madame Segard a letter. Alas, she did not know the book nor the story her father once wrote. Also Henri Jakubowicz (EAGHC), a passionate book collector, did not have the book in his personal library and could not confirm us the existence of this article.
Although we were very disappointed, we didn’t give up. We continued surfing on the internet and suddenly: ‘bingo!’

02 marius carion
The Belgian artist from the Borinage Marius Carion showed the charm of the old miner’s customs. Also this player plays left-handed

In Calgary, Canada, somebody had the book and was willing to verify if the book contained a contribution of a certain Vagliano, describing lefthanders playing ‘chôle’. He confirmed that the book contained such an article, after which message we ordered the book. So now the book is ours and under Crosse we would like to share with you the contribution of André Vagliano about French Golf and French ‘La chôle’ in ‘Around Golf’.

03 vagliano
ANDRE M. VAGLIANO
No one has done more for the game of golf in France than André Vagliano. He won the French Amateur Open Championship in 1925 and has won the French Amateur Native Championship on numerous occasions. He reached the final of the President’s Putter tournament in 1931. He has captained the French golf team on many occasions. His wife has captained the French lady golfers, and his daughter, Lally, won the Girl’s Championship in 1937. – Photo and verbatim subtitle from the book ‘Around Golf’

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