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Bottle Kicking

Listed under Spectator Sports in Midlands, United Kingdom.

  • Photo of Bottle Kicking
  • Photo of Bottle Kicking
  • Photo of Bottle Kicking
Photo of Bottle Kicking
Photo by Barry Clough
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What do you call a game where a small one-gallon barrel of beer is smuggled by a series of scrums and “won” when carried over your own village stream and the overall winner is the team that smuggles two out of the three barrel’s over their stream? That’s right…bottle-kicking!

On Easter Monday, Hallaton and Medbourne, Leicestershire, take part in this bizarre ritual that was first mentioned back in 1794. The strangest thing about this event however is that the whole day leads up to it; there’s a church service in the morning followed by processions, followed by the cutting of the hare pie and distribution of the pie (really, not making this up), with the dressing of the “bottles” being the final ritual before the remains of the pie are thrown to the crowd and the “bottles” are thrown up in the air to start the game.

To say that it’s an odd ritual would be an understatement, but for something to have started in the Iron Age and be still going strong, there must be something to it. What is definite is that it’s going to be an entertaining day with all the customs. The game itself is a bloody mess, with a good few injuries from a game that lacks a referee and a few rules.

Written by  John Johnston.

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