It's official - Britain is brilliant! And long may looking at life through rose-coloured spectacles last. Our spectacular summer of sport and celebration may be over, but no need to feel bereft because Britain not only excels in elite cycling and rowing, it rules the world with prowess in a number of bonkers sports. And you are invited, so start planning your diary to witness some of these marvellous idiosyncrasies.
How about a team game for people who consider rugby a sport for wimps? It is called the Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scramble and takes place each Easter Monday in Hallaton, Leicestershire. If the Anarchy Party was to sponsor a sporting event then bottle-kicking would be a contender. It involves a mammoth tussle for possession of a wooden cask (the bottle) where players run, crawl, wriggle and steam through a scrum to carry the bottle over the village boundary. The Hare Pie is actually made of beef and before kick-off, it is ceremoniously carried in procession led by a character dressed in a medieval green robe and carrying a striped pole topped by a bronze hare. Then the vicar blesses the pie and hunks are cut off and thrown to the throng who scramble to grab a morsel.
For something more sedate there is the annual cricket match that takes place on the Brambles in late summer. This is cricket for people with ADHD. Forget Twenty-20 - this is the swiftest version of the game in the world - and the most waterlogged because the Brambles is a sand-bar in the Solent that emerges from the sea for just under an hour once a year during the lowest tide. Dozens of boats packed with players and spectators float in the out-field waiting for the sea level to drop. As soon as the sandbank materialises everyone wades onto the sand. But first things first - the Brambles Inn is installed with tables, chairs and an umbrella to serve drinks to spectators. Once the stumps are set the umpire declares play in a narrow strip that measures a few metres in length. Then not more than 45 minutes later play is abandoned as the waves creep back to reclaim the Brambles for the deep.
If sport is war by another name, then the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships is unfinished business in the Wars of the Roses. The battle is enjoined each September in the Lancashire Pennines town of Ramsbottom when contestants are tasked with lobbing a black pudding at a pile of Yorkshire Puddings with the aim of toppling them. Yorkshire is handicapped by Lancashire's black pudding weight advantage and stands no chance against the missiles so the Red Rose county always triumphs in this skirmish.
Anyone who cannot wait for Rio 2016 can look forward to Chipping Campden 2013 and the annual Robert Dover's Cotswolds' Olimpick Games in May. The inaugural games were in 1612. Shin-Kicking is one of the highlights. It is a form of wrestling played between two men dressed in white shepherd's smocks where players hold on to the opponent's shoulders and kick at their legs before toppling them to the ground. Players wear soft shoes and stuff their trousers with straw but in previous centuries wrestlers could wear metal toe-capped boots. And the sack race is like no other; entrants are disadvantaged because the sack is tied at the neck, meaning competitors can't use their arms for balance and forward momentum. The British Olympic Association acknowledged Robert Dover's innovation in the London 2012 official bid. Oh to have seen Shin-Kicking in Stratford.
And why does the Football Association not claim footy in a river as this country's favourite game? Bourton-On-The-Water in Gloucestershire stages its annual aquatic summer showdown when two teams play football in the river Windrush that runs along the town's main street.
So sports loving Britons suffering Post Olympics Depression don't despair - see what you have to look forward to!
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