Shin Kicking World Championship in Cotswold
The Shin Kicking World Championship.
Convincing a 20 year old to get out of bed at 10:30 is no easy feat…
It turns out that playing Slayer really loud at 10:45 will make the transition happen! Now you know…
We got out of the house at about 11:00 and caught the underground to Heathrow to pick up a rental car. Just the thought of driving on the left side of the road through 12.5 million Londoners to get out of the city made my nerves fray and Heathrow is west of the rest, the direction we were heading anyhow. A tactical move! It was £18 for a car for 24 hours and £26 more for insurance that would allow us to walk away from the car with £0 down should someone else not be driving defensively enough to be aware that I hardly knew what I was doing.
The Cotswold Olimpicks & Scuttlebrook Wake takes place in Chipping Campden, roughly a two hour drive west of London. We were going there there for the festivities, the highlight of which would be the Shin Kicking World Championship Final.
Yes, you read that right….
The Shin Kicking World Championship Final!
There was no way I could miss such an event…. I had pre-booked a room in Chipping Campden at the Volunteer Inn for £70, and when the woman behind the hotel bar made eye contact with me to ask how she could help I told her, “We are here to sleep with you.” That quickly endeared us to the locals who were curious about where we were from and what we were doing there. Our favorite local, Mort, looked at my friend and warned me, “You’d better keep the key with you, or she’ll be up in the room with some shin kicker!” Oh, British humour.
I found this information in ‘The Cotswold Olimpicks & Scuttlebrook Wake’ pamphlet on the counter of the bar…
*FYI – ‘The referee used a stock or staff between the combatants to control things and a match could only start when the Stickler withdrew his staff and kicking commenced. The phrase “a stickler for the rules” is believed to have originated from this practice.’ Source
Chipping Campden has hosted this event since 1612 and the Robert Dover Games Society recently celebrated their 400th anniversary. There has been a lot of shin kicking in the town over the years. We caught a bus from the Chipping Campden town square to Dover Hill where the games were to take place. The traffic director near the square was drinking beer. I liked the festival already…
The bus dropped us off on the top of the hill and we walked as a group down a small road to a green pasture where we were charged £6.50 per adult to enter The Cotswold Olimpick grounds on Dover Hill. A group of people entering ahead of us passed through and showed the gate-keeper their wrist-bands. He said, “Ahh, you are ‘pre-labeled,’ yes, carry on through!” The grounds were of beautiful, lush, green grass. Local concessions were selling food and in the background was a hot-air balloon ride that offered free trips up with your patron donation to a community charity. There was a rock climbing-wall and a team arm-wrestling table. Everything had a perfectly small town feel.
To start the games at 19:30, a knight entered the ground on a Clydesdale horse and an announcement was made that the games would commence. To start it off was a contest called Championship of the Hill where four teams of five people were in competition with each other in a series of rural sports including:
– a potato sack relay race
– a bouncy ball relay competition to retrieve a uniform and sword
– a wheelbarrow race across obstacles
– a hole-punched water-pail race across a very slippery surface
The Championship of the Hill was amazing and very entertaining. And the emcee of the event, a man named Christian King, was hilarious…. He suggested that in choosing a member to get into the wheelbarrow, teams should, “Choose he or she that bounces the most and bruises the least.” For the hole-punched water-pail race, he summoned ‘Dipstick Juliette’ to use a piece of wood to measure each team’s results from their respective barrels. Later, at the King of the Hill championships, when a man from overseas won the challenge of ‘Throwing the hammer, putting the shot, standing jump, spurning the barre’ the emcee congratulated him to the crowd with, “He tossed a hammer, a big stick, and a wooden ball… Wayyyy to goooo. Oh, the stories he will tell his children….”
It is impossible to do justice to the tone and the wit of the emcee Christian. As the Championship of the Hill concluded, he announced that it was time to change events with, “We have some failing light, we need to get kicking,” and called the competitors down from the crowd for the Shin Kicking World Championships.
The Shin Kicking World Championships are everything your mind has probably rapidly assembled images of at reading such a title…
…Men are there to kick each other in the shins and toss each other to the ground. If you are looking for rural in the United Kingdom, it is here…
The championship bout was aggressive. It was intense.
Adam, last year’s winner came out the victor in the best of three bout when Zach had to withdraw because of a rib injury from a fall. Both men were on the ground at the end of the bout, the losing man unable to move from injury and the winning man unable to move from exhaustion to celebrate his World Championship Shin Kicking victory.
Once Adam was able to get his breath, a ceremony took place and the World Championship Shin Kicking cup was handed to him. Following that a fireworks display took place and a pile of straw bales in a cage were lit aflame. Then, The Torchlit Procession of 1,500 flaming and burning sword-shaped sticks of fire for the entire crowd marched down the road for the mile back to the town in a very traditional scene that could be from any era of time. Once the crowd of torch-bearers arrived in the town square, a funk and soul band called Kinky Farnham were mid-set on a stage for everyone who arrived to dance and party. It was a lot of fun in a busy little town that went on until just after midnight.
Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpicks are a fantastic time! If you are looking for wonderfully kind people in rural England to give you a great experience, this festival in Chipping Campden it will certainly make your Top-Ten list of most bizarre sporting event festivals that you will encounter in your life.