Empty fields as Covid forces cancellation of Haxey Hood for second year in a row

It is one of the Isle of Axholme’s most eagerly anticipated days of the year – but the fields between Haxey and Westwoodside stand silent today following the cancellation of the Haxey Hood for the second year in a row.

Thursday, 6th January 2022, 1:07 pm

Every January 6, thousands of people descend on Haxey for the medieval rough and tumble contest which sees villagers representing several different pubs battle for the prized Hood – a tube of leather – in a rugby style game that can last hours.

Organisers had hoped this year’s event might be able to go ahead after the 2021 contest was cancelled due to Covid.

However, rising levels of the Omicron variant of coronavirus meant the annual contest, which has run since the 14th century, had to be axed again.

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The empty field where the Haxey Hood is normally contested.

Last year’s event was the first time the Hood did not take place in more than 100 years.

Drinkers from the neighbouring North Lincolnshire villages of Haxey and Westwoodside gather to face off for the annual event.

They compete to push the 3ft (1m) Hood towards one of four local pubs - with the game coming to an end when it is touched by the landlord of the winning tavern.

Dating back to the 14th Century, the muddy contest can run for hours and attracts hundreds of spectators and participants.

Organisers said the pandemic meant they had "very little choice" but to cancel the previous event and it was with "great regret" they had taken the decision to do so again.