I could not help but smile and resonate when I saw a picture a friend shared recently on his Facebook page:
Growing up as a kid on a council estate in the fifties, it was a lot like what the picture showed and something we did often. We did play in the road in the way the picture depicted. There were no cars parked and very few passing vehicles to disturb our game (if there were we would stop and resume when the vehicle passed) meaning we could do that then but nowadays it would be impossible.
But we were lucky insofar there was a nearby (Blenheim) park where we could play and did (encouraged by our parents) and we did so for the best part of the day, many times, breaking only for lunch. I was able to reminisce recently on a never to be repeated and a mostly enjoyable and innocent past as I strolled in the park and surveyed the very ground we used to play on. As I recall, the length of the pitch depended on how many players (3-30) played, there was no limit on width, game lines were imaginary and loosely regarded, the best two players took turns choosing team members, late comers joined the losing side, fouls were hardly recognized but fair play was expected, goalies changed when three goals were let in and a whole host of other unwritten rules that were accepted by the majority.
As I recall, up to the time I left that estate (aged 12) playing like this was a regular activity and it brought together all sorts of boys (never girls) in our age range and of all abilities, and not an adult in sight (safeguarding was a non issue). Sadly, we see little of its like today.