The 2015 edition of the Cotwold Olimpicks took place on 29th May on Dover’s Hill above Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire with the large crowd enjoying the relay races, tug of war and culminating in the Shin Kicking contest.
The event goes back in history to 1636 where skin kicking along with wrestling is known to have been part of the games. In the 18th and 19th century the games became quite brutal with villages challenging each other, and wearing hob nailed boots and similar, with broken legs occasionally featuring.
In the modern version shin kicking is refereed by a Stickler and the two contestants hold each other by the shoulder, while trying to get a strong blow to the opponents skins, and knocking him to the ground.
The event was officially opened by Robert Dover and Endymion Peter along with the Scuttlebrook Wake Queen and attendants, along with the St. Andrews Pipe band.
The games are held in a natural amphitheatre with an upper and lower level, with the games taking place on the lower with the large crowds sitting on the banked hill or stood at the top. On the top-level are the stalls, fun fair and other entertainment such as local Morris Men.
Then the games began with a series of relay races, contested by the 6 teams: Coach crowd (Coach & Horses pub, Longborough), Team Chillout (Chipping Campden Baptist Church), Sedgeberrow Stores, Mrs Ts, Hidcote Heros (Hidcote Gardens NT) and Any Wholes a Goal (Chipping Campden Ladies Hockey).
The first race was a two-way slalom with 3 team members on each pair of wooden skis, with the winner to get all their team up and back the course and then the skis deposited back to the end of the course. The winners being Coach Crowd.
Then we moved onto the historic sack race, but using a taller sack with had to be held up with the arms inside. There was a lot of bouncing action, with a few collisions and after all teams had completed the course the Sedgeberrow stores held on to win.
The third event was the wheelbarrow event with a half-pipe to negotiate as well as other teams going in the opposite directions. The was lots of fun here with a few collisions and people falling out of the wheelbarrows. The ladies of any Wholes a Goal won this event, closely followed by Team Chillout.
The final event was when things got a bit messy and lots of water was involved. Before the races began the course (black plastic) was heavily watered with lots of washing up liquid applied as well. Each team member had two buckets which he/she had to race up the course, loosing as little water as possible before deposited the contents into a large drum. There was a disputed result but at least Hidcote Heros got off the mark with a joint first place.
The overall champions were the Coach Crowd (Coach & Horses pub) from Longborough, who were the defending champions from 2014.
Then we moved onto the Tug of War between two local teams which ended up, on the final pull, with the rope breaking in the middle with both teams taking the strain! (or not).
The final event of the evening was the shin kicking which was competed by 8 local lads. In started with heats then semi-finals before the final was competed in by Adam Miller (Chipping Campden) and Tom MacDonaugh. This was a hard-fought affair with Miller winning the first bought, but then MacDonaugh fought back to win the 2nd round. So we were down to sudden to declare the shin kicking world champion for 2015.
With the two lads exhausted (as they both competed in the earlier relay races) a quick break for drinks was offered by the Sticklers. Then battle commenced with both lads trying hard to land the crucial blow. Then they both ended up on the ground, but after an agonising wait the two Sticklers agreed it wasn’t an acceptable blow. So both lads had to pull themselves together for one last attempt.
This time a legal kick was landed by Adam Miller so he was declared the winner and was awarded the Francis Burns Trophy, and became World Shin Kicking champion for 2015.
The organisers were grateful for the Cotswold Wardens, National Trust and farmer John Robbins for use of the field, along with the event Sponsors Weird Fish (for the prizes), Fosse Hire (for power and lights). Greenall Builders, the Green Skip Company, Choosing Cruising were thanked for their support of the event with the Chillout Zone, at Chipping Campden’s Baptist Church, offering free tea/coffee/toast after the games. Hackling Transport were thanked for providing the stage in the main square in Chipping Campden for the evening entertainment after the torchlit procession down the hill.
A full set of my supporting images can be viewed on my Flickr feed at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/widerviewphoto/sets/72157653654675686
We now look forward to the 2016 event, though the organisers are looking out for volunteers to make sure the games can continue in their current form, as a major Cotswold attraction. It if want to know more or can volunteer please email the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org and all will be explained.