Battle commences for Haxey Hood - ancient contest steeped in history
BATTLE is set to commence today for the ancient Haxey Hood, with the current holders aiming to defend their crown.
The event, which goes back more than 700 years, sees villagers from Haxey and Westwoodside aim to win control of a leather hood.
Competitors join a scrum, known as the sway, to direct the hood towards one of four pubs.
The game often lasts several hours and ends when the landlord or landlady touches the hood on their front doorstep.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
The hood has been in the possession of the Duke William pub in Haxey since it won the 2012 contest.
Landlord Paul Chapman said he hoped for a repeat this time around.
He said: "We are hoping to defend it and it is always a good day for everybody.
"Preparations are under way and it will be here before we know what is happening.
"It would be good to get it for two consecutive years but we will see how it goes."
Tradition dictates the Haxey Hood game is held on January 6 each year, unless that date falls on a Sunday.
With that being the case this year, the event will instead happen today - Saturday, January 5.
The day begins with a pub crawl around the four participating hostelries – the Duke William, the Loco and the Kings Arms in Haxey and the Carpenters Arms in Westwoodside.
From there, the hood is taken to Hood Field, where the ceremonial fool delivers a speech.
It includes the mysterious lines: "Hoose agen hoose, toon agen toon, if a man meets a man knock 'im doon, but doan't 'ot 'im."
The hood is then thrown into the air and the game begins, refereed by the Lord of the Hood and his Boggins.
Last year saw the hood won by the Duke William for the first time since 2003.
Mr Chapman, who has been at the pub for nine years, said the event meant a lot locally and he said he felt it was important to keep the tradition alive.
He said: "A lot of Haxey people look forward to the Haxey Hood more than they look forward to Christmas.
"They are not bothered about Christmas Day or New Year's Day, it is hood day they look forward to.
"It is a good day for the pubs, it is a good day financially and we could do with it happening every quarter, not just every year."
The fool will make his speech at around 2.30pm, with the main hood to be thrown at around 3pm to signal the start of the contest.
Determined to bring the hood back to Westwoodside this year are the staff at the Carpenter's Arms.
Landlord Bill Alexander said being the only pub from Westwoodside competing in the event meant local pride was clearly at stake.
And the 2011 winners said they were up for the challenge this year.
He said: "We are definitely looking forward to this year's event and are determined to bring it back to Westwoodside.
"Because it is such an old, traditional event, people want to keep it alive and keep it going because there are so many country traditions disappearing.
"Everyone wants to keep being involved because of that.
"Being the only pub in Westwoodside involved brings that bit more competition.
"We have always been at a disadvantage with three pubs pushing for Haxey, but we are looking forward to it."
Mr Alexander said it was an occasion that brought the whole community together and something people looked forward to every year.
"Everyone also knows that after Christmas and New Year, there is always the Haxey Hood," he said.
"People want to come out and support it and often see people that they have not seen since the year before.
"The same tales always come out every year and this year we are expecting a big crowd, with it being on the Saturday.
"Obviously it is a big boost to trade on the day but it gels the community together.
"Being from such a small rural community, this is a good chance for everyone to meet and get together."
When the Carpenter's Arms won the event in 2011, it brought to an end the three-year dominance of the King's Arms in Haxey, which won in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The Duke William, claimed the title last year after more than three-and-a-half hours of competition.