During our childhoods, we all participate in an abundance of playground games with our friends. These could include the various “tag” games, rounders and many games of football1 with crumbling sponge balls.
None, however, required as much skill, cunning and tact of that of a game of “Foxy”.
What is Foxy?
To put simply, Foxy is an elaborate, drawn out game of tag. The idea is simple. One person, “it”, faces a wall with their back facing the other players. The other players slowly move away from “home” and make their way towards the wall at which “it” is waiting. The aim is to touch the wall without “it” catching you do it, and making your way back home before it catches you, in which case, you become “it”. This game is recommended for 5-10 players. Any more and it becomes unruly. This game is also recommended for ages 7-11. Older readers may also want to give this game a shot, too.2
Finding a suitable play area
Unlike most games of tag, the play area does need to fit a certain criteria. You will need to find an area of playground in which two walls are facing each other with at least 10m between them. The area should be clear, although advanced game players may want to use obstacles. Ideally, the walls should be parallel.
As with most games played in the school grounds, a method is needed to pick “it”, that is the person who will be faced against the wall at one end of the play area. Probably the fairest way in which to pick “it", is for each player to place one foot in a circle and, using any number of rhymes, count round the feet with each syllable beat counted on one foot at a time. When the rhyme has finished, the foot at which the rhyme finished is withdrawn from the circle. This procedure is repeated until only one foot remains; the person to whom the foot is attached is “it”.
The following rhymes are recommended for use in the “it” picking section:
How many people at the station?
(Someone yells a random number. This number is counted up to, one per foot, and whomever it finishes on, withdraws their foot.)
Eeny, meeny, miny, mo,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers let him go,
Eeny meeny, miny, mo.
There is another fairly well-known "it" picking rhyme, but it is far too rude to be placed in H2G2 simply because of the swearing involved. 3
Caution: It has been known on occasion that the person eventually chosen as "it" will become very agitated, grumpy and violent, especially if he/she is not very athletic making it harder for them to tag anyone. This person should be told sternly that they were picked "fair and square". If the temper tantrum does not diffuse, then expulsion from the group may be necessary.
Playing the game
Once picked, “it” picks one of the walls and the other players all gather to make contact with the other wall. When ready, “it” turns away from the other players, making sure there is no way that he/she can see the other players. At any time they wish, the other players begin by slowly making their way towards “it’s” wall. Now, at anytime they wish, “it” may quickly turn around and look at the other players, the players must then freeze as quickly as possible. If he/she sees any of the players moving, “it” must call out their name, at which point, the player makes his way towards the wall and makes contact with it. This is known as "capturing". “It” turns back around and the game continues thusly. If additional people are caught moving, then they simply link hands with any other players caught, creating a chain of people reaching out from the wall.
If any player manages to reach the wall without being caught, he/she must touch it or, if there are any, make contact with a player(s) that were caught moving and shout “Foxy!”. At this point, all the players must run back to “home” whilst being chased by “it”. If “it” touches any of these players and calls “Foxy”, this player then becomes “it” and the games restarts. If all the players reach “home”, then “it” makes their weary way back to their wall and the game restarts.
This game requires honesty and fair bit of leniency. Do not cheat and pretend to see someone move. Also, take into account player’s movement. It is unfair to capture someone by claiming that you saw their eyelid move or that they twitched very slightly.
What if all the players are caught moving?
Good question. If all the players are caught, they should be linking arms, forming a long chain protruding out from the wall.
At this point, “it” paces up and down the line dictating a story. This story can be about anything at all. It is important that “it” keeps a distance of at least 4ft between him/her and the other players to give to give them a fair chance of escape later. During the story, “it” will say the word “Foxy” allowing all the players to run back “home” to make their escape. Again, if “it” catches any of these players and cries “Foxy”, they become “it”.
During the story telling, use words that rhyme with “Foxy”, such as boxy or toxy. They needn’t be real words, just words that will confuse the captured players into thinking you have said “Foxy”, thus causing them to jerk and create a false start, at which point the players must be recalled. Also, elongate any “ffff” sound to give the impression that you are building up the word “Foxy”, but then proceed say another word beginning with “F”. Use these tactics to confuse and disorientate the player, making them easier to catch.
The experienced player will eventually tire of certain aspects of the game and will want to expand upon the basic premise. The following are suggested ammendments you can make to the game:
Use dustbins, trees, and other kids as obstacles to weave in and out of. These can be easily used to disorientate “it”. Place them in the empty area between both walls. Rearrange them after each round.
Make the game tricky by allowing “it” to capture a player if he/she hears them. This may prove tricky in a noisy playground, so use when you feel appropriate.
Home needn’t be a wall. Feel free to use trees or even goalposts. This will allow you to try a variety of playing surfaces and terrains.
Whatever amendments you make, be sure that all players involved are in agreement with them.
Is that it?
Yup. That is the game known as "Foxy". There is no score as such, just a wonderful, energetic and amusing game of stealth and tact. The SAS are probably trained using this game, although this cannot be confirmed.
Enjoy and play safe.