Ten Weird or Unusual British Sports / Games.
Great Britain is world renowned for it's sporting achievements, national team sports and for hosting the Olympic Games a record three times.It's people's love of football is palpable, their sportsmanship in Rugby and Cricket is ledgendary and their prowess on the athletics and cycling track is revered around the globe.Great Britain is also credited with the invention of many sports including such worldwide favourites as rugby, cricket and ping pong.
With all this to it's credit, is it any wonder that this small island in northern Europe, is also home to some of the world's weirdest and unusual sporting events and games? Read on to find out more about Britain's ten, most weird and unusual sports or games, all of which are still played on a regular basis, with some even being played to championship level.
Aunt Sally is a game that has it's roots in the county of Oxfordshire, and goes back to the 17th century, but is still played today on a regular basis around the country, particularly at village fetes and fairgrounds during the Summer months.
In the county of Oxfordshire, where the game originates, there is an Aunt Sally League, which has been playing regular matches since the 1930's.
The game was originally played in pubs and at fairgrounds.
A ball, which is called a dolly, is placed upon a spiked, wooden plinth.
Each player is given six sticks, which they throw at the dolly.
The person who knocks off the dolly the most times is hailed the winner.
The sticks are not known for their compliance, making the game one of much skill and dexterity.
Originally the dolly was a figurehead of a woman with a pipe in her mouth, commonly known as an Aunt Sally.
This is a game with it's roots in the 18th century.
Owing to the main implement of the sport, it is supposed that the sport was initially played as a pub sport.
People would lay a beer barrel on it's side, stand on top of it, then ' walk' the barrel along a stipulated course.
The first person to complete the course would be the winner.
The game of course is not as easy as it sounds, and resulted in many people falling off the barrel, many of which sustained some quite nasty injuries.
However, despite it's dangers, the game still lives on in many parts of the country.
Cheese rolling is an age old game played throughout the British Isles in most of it's cheese making areas.
A large ' round' of cheese would be pushed along the village or town streets by as many people as could be mustered.
The aim of the game would be to push the cheese as far as possible without it falling over.The ' round' that travelled the furthest with least damage done to it, would be deemed the winner, and a prize awarded to the maker of said cheese.
Today the game is played by rolling a ' round' down a steep incline, and people would chase after it, with the intention of overtaking it.
In recent years it has been hailed as a very dangerous sport, which has caused many serious injuries.
The Cheese Rolling World Championships are held in the county of Gloucestershire every Spring Bank Holiday Monday.
A conker is the seed of the Horsechestnut tree.The seeds appear at the end of August until the end of September.
A small hole is drilled into the conker, and a piece of string threaded through it.
The aim of the game is to flick your conker at the conker of an opponent, with the intention of smashing it.
The person whose conker smashes the most opponent's conkers is deemed the winner.
This game is a favourite of school children, but also has international standing with it's World Championships held every year in the U.K.
The game was apparantly first played in the mid 1800's, on the isle of Wight.
The Coconut Shy is a regular event up and down the country played at village fetes and fairgrounds which is now known the world over.
The game is a relatively new game, being only around 100 years old, which is a derivitive of the Aunt Sally game.
Coconuts are placed upon a wooden plinth, and six wooden balls are used to try and knock off the coconuts.
If a coconut is knocked off, you get to keep it.
Not much of a prize in this day and age, but for many years this exotic and mysterious nut was much sought after, heralding the game, one of the most popular fairground events during the turn of the last century.
The name ' shy' is an old English word meaning ' to knock over'.
A dyke is a man made channel which surrounds a field.
A dyke is a neccessary farming technique used to fend off flooding in low lying areas.
Dyke jumping has it's roots in Holland, but was quickly picked up by the British, particularly in their low lying counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.
To jump the dyke one uses a long pole to hoist ones self across the dyke, much like the art of pole vaulting.
As you can imagine, not every one succeeds in their mission, leaving many participants floundering in the murky and cold waters of the dyke.
This game has been around for hundreds of years, and is still popular, even to the extent of having an annual World Championship played between other countries that also use this unique farming method.
A haggis is a Scottish delicacy made from minced lamb, chopped onions and suet, which is rolled into a round shape held together by way of a sheeps bladder.
The haggis is traditionally eaten at Hogmanay ( New Year) and on Burns Night ( 25th January), but can be eaten at any time of the year.
In the sport of haggis hurling, the haggis is thrown over a stipulated distance, with each participant allowed three hurls.
The haggis must land intact still remaining in an edible state, otherwise it will be disqualified.
The winner is the person who can throw or hurl the haggis the furthest without causing undue damage to it.
This sport has world acclaim with an international World Championship held every year in Scotland.
Pancake Day, otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday, is celebrated all over the British Isles, by way of eating pancakes.
On this auspicious day, pancake races are held, usually upon village greens or in schools.
A pancake is made in a large frying pan or skillet.
To partake in a pancake race, one must take the pancake, complete with skillet it was made in, and run a stipulated course, whilst continually flipping or tossing the pancake in the skillet.
If the pancake falls out of it's skillet, that person will be disqualified.
The winner of the race is the person who gets to the finish line without losing their pancake.
A welly is an English colloquial term for a Wellington boot, or rubber galosh.
Wellies are well worn in the British Isles due to it's wet climate, and are the preferred footwear of the British farming fraternity.
Although wellies are highly sought after for their water proofing abilities, they are not much known for their staying power, easilly becoming split or worn out.
During the early 1900's someone hit upon a way of giving a worn out welly a new lease of life,by turning it into a sporting implement, and there lay the beginnings of a new sport known as welly wanging.
The welly would be thrown over a stipulated distance or over some sort of obstacle like a gate or post.
Sounds easy enough you say, but actually trying to throw a welly is no mean feat.
A welly weighs about 2 kilos and due to it's L shape is not exactly known for it's aerodynamics.
The game became an instant hit in rural communities due to the many challenges it provoked, and the art is still being practised to this day .
WHEELBARROW AND STRAW RACING.
Another sport with it's roots firmly in the farming community, this sport was initially conceived as a way of letting off steam after the hard labour of bringing in the harvest.
A wheelbarrow would be loaded with four bales of straw.The wheel barrow would be pushed along a specified course, some of them laden with obstacles, and at the end of the course, the straw bales would be hurled over a fence or wall.
The first person to complete the course would be the winner.
Yet again, not as easy as it sounds, as straw bales are not known for their explicit compliance in this sport, with them continually falling out of the wheel barrow, much to the joy of the onlooking crowds.
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