Six weird and wonderful British summer sporting events

  • 07th May 2014

2014 is undoubtedly a great year for sport – we’ve had the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the FIFA World Cup is about to kick-off in Brazil, and we’ve got the Commonwealth Games to look forward to later in the summer.

But did you know that every year, some of the wackiest sports you can imagine are played out around the UK?

Let’s take a look at some of the best that are within easy reach of our airport hubs of Bristol, Birmingham, East Midlands, Norwich, Manchester and Aberdeen.

1.  Cheese-rolling

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Where: Cooper’s Hill, Brockworth, Gloucestershire.

When: Bank Holiday Monday 26 May, noon, 2014.

Nearest bmi regional airport: Bristol.

On the late bank holiday in May every year, the ‘unofficial’ annual cheese-rolling event takes place at Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire. This tradition dates back to the early 19th century and has become incredibly popular. Tourists flock to watch participants hurl themselves down the 1 in 3 gradient slope chasing a 7lb (3kg) wheel of Double Gloucester cheese.

Some 15,000 people turned up to watch the 2009 event, resulting in the 2010 event being cancelled due to Health & Safety concerns. However, it has since resumed as an ‘unofficial’ competition, with races organised by local enthusiasts.

2. Cotswolds Olympick Games

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Where: Dover’s Hill, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire.

When: Friday 30 May 2014, 7.00pm.

Nearest bmi regional airport: Bristol.

The rather eccentric Cotswold Olimpick Games were begun back in 1612 by a lawyer called Robert Dover and have had a chequered history. The Civil War in 1642 caused the Games to stop but they were revived after the restoration of Charles II in 1660. They were stopped once again in 1852 as the common land they were held on was enclosed by landowners but, happily, they were revived once again and are held every year on the Friday after the Spring Bank Holiday.

Typical events include the tug o’ war, shin-kicking, piano smashing, motorcycle scrambling, morris dancing, and something called dwile flonking (where participants take turns to hit each other with a wet rag). According to Wikipedia, The British Olympic Association has recognised the Cotswold Olimpick Games as “the first stirrings of Britain’s Olympic beginnings”.

3. The Aberdeen Highland Games

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Where: Games Field at Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen, Scotland.

When: Sunday 15 June 2014.

Nearest bmi regional airport: Aberdeen.

Part of the traditional Grampian Games circuit in Scotland, The Aberdeen Highland Games have been celebrated for more than 50 years. The games include a mix of the traditional Scottish events, including tossing the caber, stone putting, tug o’war, highland dancing and bagpipes, as well as fun events for the family such as zip-slides, crazy golf, and a fun fair. These events make a great family day out and are clearly very popular as in 2013 some 10,000 people attended the Aberdeen Highland Games.

4. Ardbeg Swamp Soccer World Cup

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Photo credit: Swamp Soccer World Cup Facebook Page

Where: Blairmore Farm, Argyll, Scotland.

When: Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 June, 2014.

Nearest bmi regional airport: Aberdeen.

The Ardbeg Swamp Soccer World Cup is a messy event that has been held in Scotland since 2006. It’s a type of extreme football and is open to teams from around the world – with a minimum age requirement of 17. Some of the fun team names include Real Mudrid, Mudchesthair United, Ar-mud-geddon, and Swamp Bog Millionaire.

Surprisingly, to those of us who don’t consider splashing around in mud as ‘fun’, swamp soccer is becoming a very popular sport. Swamp Soccer UK hope to have 25 world events established by 2025.

5. World Toe Wrestling Championships

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Where: Bentley Brook Inn, Fenny Bentley, Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

When: Sunday 8 June, 2014.

Nearest bmi regional airport: East Midlands.

This unusual event was invented in 1976 when regulars at a Derbyshire pub set about searching for a game that the British could win. And ended up inventing one!
Toe wrestling is very similar to arm wrestling, only competitors, playing in bare feet, must try to pin or trap their opponent’s toes to the floor for three seconds. Players link their big toes and after a traditional chant of “one, two, three, four, I declare a toe war” the wrestling begins.

6. World Snail Racing Championships

Where: Village of Congham in Norfolk, East Anglia.

When: 19 July 2014.

Nearest bmi regional airport: Norwich.

The annual World Snail Racing Championships were first run in Congham, Norfolk in the 1960s after the event’s founder, Tom Elwes, saw a similar event in France. Competitors can either bring their own snails or choose one from a local ‘talent’ pool. The 2013 champion was a snail called Racer 2, owned by six year-old Sue Ryder from King’s Lynn. Appropriately, the winners receive a tankard filled with… lettuce.

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