January 6, 2017 / 6:56 PM / in 4 years

Pub drinkers pile in for centuries-old English scrap

Men fight for the hood in the sway during the traditional annual Haxey Hood game in Haxey, Britain January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples

HAXEY, England (Reuters) - Boozy pub goers from two English villages dived into the mud and resumed their centuries-old scrap for a meter-long leather tube in the annual Haxey Hood challenge on Friday.

Part rugby, part wrestling, the traditional contest sees four pubs in the Lincolnshire villages of Westwoodside and Haxey battle to get the tube, also known as the ‘Hood’, back to their tavern without throwing or running with it.

The contest, which dates back to the 14th century and begins with a speech by ‘The Fool’ and the burning of hay, is refereed by ‘The Lord’.

Helpful officials known as ‘boggins’ are on hand to pull out any competitors who look in danger of being crushed in the melee, also termed the ‘sway’.

The contest is thought to have started when a farm worker beat 12 others to retrieve the silk hood of a local landowner who had lost it while riding her horse in the wind.

This year’s battle, aided by alcohol, lasted several hours before the King’s Arms in Haxey were declared winners after wrestling the tube to their premises.

Reporting by Darren Staples; Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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