Organisers of the Haxey Hood have declared this weekend’s staging of the ancient game as a success – despite a string of pub closures forcing them into changes.
The annual rugby scrum style game in the Isle of Axholme is normally played by drinkers from four pubs - but this year just one of the four watering holes in Westwoodside and Haxey was open for business.
However, huge crowds still came out in force to support Saturday's contest which was won for the second year in a row by the Carpenters Arms at Westwoodside.
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The contest came at the end of a bitter 12 months in Haxey after a proposal to knock down one of the pubs and replace it with houses was unanimously rejected by North Lincolnshire Council.
Duke William landlord Paul Chapman was met with fierce resistance by villagers who opposed his proposal which was kicked out by councillors in November.
As a result, the Duke William and the adjoining Loco, also owned by Mr Chapman, were both closed for this weekend's game while the Kings Arms, which is also in the village, was closed due to licensing issues but is expected to re-open soon.
Andrew Jarvis, who runs The Carpenters Arms, said: "It's the first time in hundreds of years that this has ever happened. It's a first for the whole community."
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Mr Chapman said he "felt let down" by the campaign against his scheme to knock down the pub and was now unwilling to support the Haxey Hood.
Meanwhile, Haxey’s Stanholme Guest House, which had offered to step into the breach as a replacement drinking venue was also closed forced to close due to licensing issues after complaints were received about the plan in the days leading up to the contest.
But Hood organisers have pledged that the event will continue and that the game is going from strength to strength.
Spokesman Luke Coggon said in a Facebook post: “Just want to thank everyone for coming and supporting the Haxey Hood.
“The tradition is getting stronger – two fingers up to everyone who has tried to disrupt the Hood!”
The game, which dates from 1359, sees villagers attempt to push the Hood - a leather tube - to their favoured watering hole with victory declared when the landlord touches it from the pub step.
The changes meant that traditional songs normally sung inside the pubs were sung on the street inside – and that could remain next year.
Chief Boggin Phil Palmer said: “We have had massive feedback from both villages, all positive!
“We will continue to do our very best to sing at pubs and designated areas of Haxey next year.”
Alyson Carrie Taylor said: “Why on earth would anyone want to try to disrupt this tradition?
“That’s lunacy. It brings in money to the community. It brings in tourists and buisness.”
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Jo Kitching added: “Was a fab day .. well done everybody.”
Chris Wilmot wrote: “Been going to the Haxey Hood for years, loved every minute, especially the singing outside, well done to everyone who made it happen.”
Carole Brown said: “It's about time people started looking at traditions and working with them not trying to stop them because of snowflakes.”
Claire Clarke said: “I think whatever happens they should sing in the street going forward and leave the pubs to those who want to drink in them! Well done all...massive two fingers up to the naive idiots who think they will win!”
Duncan Thorpe said: “It’s been a very different hood this year but one that was fantastic and enjoyed by the many.This showed how the Isle pull together in diverse and challenging times. Isle folk are tough ones and won’t be discouraged.”
The tradition is said to have started when Lady de Mowbray was out riding between Westwoodside and Haxey when her silk riding hood was blown away by the wind
She is said to have been so amused to see local farm workers chasing it she rewarded them land - on condition the chase be re-enacted every year.