02 June, 2006

Nothing Says Gloucestershire Fun Like a Good, Swift Kick to the Shin

Yet another classic folk tradition (and sporting competition) is upon us this week - rural Gloucestershire was the place, and shin-kicking was event. The BBC gives us the lowdown:

Although not as aggressive as earlier versions, where players were said to have hardened their shins using hammers in over-zealous preparation for the main event, the competition remains the highlight of the Cotswold "Olimpick" games.

Players, wearing the traditional white smocks of shepherds, grasp each other by the shoulders and attempt to land well-timed blows to their opponent's shins.

Only then - in mid-kick - can a player attempt to bring his opposite number to the ground.

A stickler, the ancient name for a judge or umpire, is on hand to make sure a shin is hit before a fall can be scored.

Competitors must kick their way through early qualifying rounds, and swing their legs in a three-stage final to be crowned the shin kicking champion.

"It's part of the original games," said organiser Robert Wilson, referring to the rural competition established by Robert Dover in 1612.

"It was vicious in those days, there was a lot of inter-village rivalry and lads used to harden their shins with hammers and were allowed to wear iron-capped boots.

"We won't permit that. People stuff their trousers with straw and must wear soft shoes.

"We never have broken bones but there are some bruises."

And, yes, shin-kicking is the topic of one of the chapters from the twice previously-mentioned book True Brits by J.R. Daeschner. J.R. fans are strongly encouraged to follow him across the Channel to the Continent, where he found the material for his newest book, Eurotripping.


Post a Comment

<< Home