ESPN+ has found a format that works for series that delves into the history of our favorite sports. We saw it with Peyton’s places covering the NFL, we’ve seen it with Vince’s places covering basketball, Rowdy’s places covering combat sports, Big Papi’s places for baseball and even Eli’s places who took a peek into the world of college football. Now Abby Wambach is back as she continues to explore the world of football with Abby’s Places.
The sixth episode, titled ‘It Starts With A Crowd’, takes a look at the history of the soccer ball itself and sees Wambach meet legendary player Landon Donovan, exploring a bizarre tradition in England and reviewing the original rules. Game.
The episode opens with Wambach meeting Donovan on the field to try out some of the oldest footballs and get a history lesson. She begins by explaining that the very first soccer ball was actually a human skull. They try and it doesn’t go so well. They then move on to the rag ball, consisting of a t-shirt and duct tape, but that doesn’t go well either. They try the pig’s bladder and the leather ball before arriving at the Telstar, the ball they played with and the one still used today.
Wambach then travels to Ashbourne in the UK to go back further in the history of football, uh football. She discovers an age-old tradition while watching a football game played by seemingly everyone in the town of Ashbourne. A local historian explains the concept of mass street football, which began in 1642. It is basically a game of capture the flag played with a football and a few thousand players.
Wambach then travels to London to look into the history of football rules. She meets the legendary British player Kelly Smith. Together they review the original “laws” of “football” and find them a little ridiculous. They then try out some of their own new rules, like having to thank a player for passing the ball to you, or each player getting redone once per game.
It was another fun episode of Abby’s Places even if it was a bit directionless. It felt like one of those subjects could have taken a full episode, rather than being crammed in. The history of the ball is interesting and the tradition of mass street football is fascinating to watch.
You can watch Abby’s Places on ESPN+ now. fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for only $6.99 per month and can cancel at any time.