The Semi-Professional String Collecting Phenomenon


Banjoleg Undertow is probably the world’s leading organiser of semi-professional string-collection exhibition matches. Of course, since the decline of more traditional sports, newer entrants into the market such as semi-professional string collecting have moved in to capture the limelight. Consequntly, string collecting has since taken over the audience figures and – of course – the lucrative sponsorship deals formerly associated with other professional sports.

For a long time in the post-WWII world, string collecting was in a slow decline, even at times – staggering as it seems now – becoming unfashionable, if only for brief periods. Of course, during the heady days of the Sixties, string collecting was hip, happening and fashionable. Back in those days, people, especially the young, needed string, if only to keep their hair out of their eyes, or to keep their spliffs from falling apart.

String collecting also has a long and noble amateur history. There cannot be many people – men or women – who have not at some point in their lives kept some string. Even if only loosely unravelled in the kitchen drawer they use for miscellaneous and sundry items they may – one day – find a use for.

Although, even professional and semi-professional competitive string collectors often claim that first bit of string found loose in a kitchen drawer is what started them off on their careers. Therefore, any young boy or girl who has only one single short piece of string, hardy enough to be called a length, let alone a collection, should not despair. For even the greats, like Undertow himself, started out small with a single piece of string.

Even though, the current great revival of competitive string collecting came too late and he had already retired from competition, the legend of Undertow and his massive balls of hairy string still inspire newcomers to the sport. Not only that, Undertow himself mentors new collectors and at the Competitive String Collecting Institute and Training College in Wednesbury. There he does all he can to encourage youngsters to take up the sport.

Still, these days, youngsters can see the amount of money a top-flight semi-professional string collector can earn. This is not only in the national league and knockout cup, but also in European competition and even at international level. In addition, sponsorship deals, exhibition matches and Royal Command Performances, which all increase the earning potential of the top-flight collectors. Many youngsters these days who once dreamt of being film stars, pop musicians or football players now dream of having a string collection of their own, craving the glamour and excitement of the sport.

For all that, we must thank Banjoleg Undertow and his championing of an enthralling spectator sport that at one time could have been lost and forgotten about if not for his dedication.


Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

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