The sport of Donkey Jousting has taken place under the walls of Caernarvon Castle in North-West Wales since 1300 when King Edward I was building the castle that’s seen today by thousands of visitors. The original jousters were Welsh soldiers who were trying to tempt the English knights into a skirmish. As all horses had been commandeered by the English the jousters had to use donkeys instead and this just drew ribald comments from the knights who found the whole scene comical. To compound matters, the Welsh had to use willow branches instead of lances.
Realising that the English weren’t going to be tempted into a fight, the local Welsh people decided to enjoy themselves. To further parody the English knights the Welsh jousters dressed up in highly coloured garments and decorated their donkeys with rags and flowers. Some of the animals spent more time trying to eat the flowers than trotting around the jousting ‘field’ specially created for the occasion.
The tournament was run on a round robin basis where each jouster took on every other opponent over the best of three jousts. A point was scored if the willow branch touched either the shield or the armour of their opponent.
The biggest problem that riders had was making their donkey gallop at any speed; most donkeys trotted at best and often decided to nuzzle the opposing animal rather than running by. This led to the jousters hitting their opponents many times rather than just once, so quite often the counting judges had a problem counting the blows each had scored. Quite often one donkey would chase another donkey out of the field and in this instance both riders would be disqualified for failing to control their animals.
The Skipping Games take place in Skipton on the last Saturday of September. As the name suggests all the events require the contestant to skip rope during the race. The rope must be in use at all times and can never be carried otherwise the contestant will be disqualified.
The Skipping Games began in 1894 when one of the local worm-charmers, Agnes Smith, devised a technique for bringing worms to the surface of her fields by dancing on the spot using a skipping rope to keep a steady beat on the ground with her feet. This was quite a tiring exercise and she used to train by running around the field, skipping as she went. Her two sisters, Anne and Bronwen, used to try to keep up with her and soon a competitive edge was introduced when their father, Herbert, declared that the fastest sister over a 100-yard race would win a pint of best Yorkshire bitter. Anne won the race in 13.6 seconds and that night downed the prize in one go. Her father also had a few pints to drink and by the end of the evening had challenged all comers to a racing contest in his top field the following weekend.
The game of Bocket is played throughout the Indian sub-continent but first started in Dacca in Bangladesh. Bocket is a combination of Bowls and Cricket and allows people in bowling clubs to still play a version of their game after their bowling green has been sold to a high-rise developer.
Bocket is played on a cricket pitch with the stumps and bails in place. There is an Umpire at each end of the pitch and the two teams comprise four members each. The first members of each team bowl their two bowls alternately, then the second members bowl their bowls alternately and so on.
The person who delivers the bowl is known as the bowler and he must deliver the bowl from the popping crease without having the whole of his front foot across the line; if the front foot is wholly across the line the umpire shouts “No Bowl” and the bowl is intercepted on its path by the Third Man, who isn’t an umpire.