Teams do beery-battle at dwile flonking world championships in Ludham

The world championships for the traditional yet unusual pub sport of “Dwile Flonking� taking part at The Dog Inn at Ludham.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY. The world championships for the traditional yet unusual pub sport of “Dwile Flonking� taking part at The Dog Inn at Ludham. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Sunday, August 10, 2014
9:47 AM

Cheers, laughter and plenty of beer accompanied a nail biting match of one of Norfolk’s more unusual sports when it was played out at a countryside pub.

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The world championships for the traditional yet unusual pub sport of “Dwile Flonking� taking part at The Dog Inn at Ludham.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.The world championships for the traditional yet unusual pub sport of “Dwile Flonking� taking part at The Dog Inn at Ludham. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Armed with sticks, cloths, ale and a chamber pot two groups of competitors gathered in Ludham for the dwile flonking world championships.

The quirky event drew a huge crowd at the village’s Dog Inn pub as the flonkers launched beer soaked towels at one another, while leaping around in a circle.

Some say the traditional sport, which sees teams form a circle and jump up and down as an opponent stands in the middle and uses a stick to throw the dripping towels, may have been played in Norfolk and Suffolk since the middle ages. Others believe it was invented by a group of Suffolk printing apprentices in 1966.

But whatever its origins it garnered some modern fans as customers at the pub watched with glee as the teams aimed to give each other a soggy slap with their traditional ‘dwile’.

The rules

Dwile Flonking is normally played by two teams of between eight - 10 players dressed as country “yokels”

One team joins hands to form a ring which circles round jumping into the air as they go - known as girting.

While circling, a member of the other team goes into the middle of the ring, puts his or her beer soaked dwile on the end of a stick, and as they spin round they throw the dwile and attempt to hit an opponent from the opposite team.

Points are scored depending on what body part is hit; a slap to the head is worth three, a hit above the waist - including arms - scores two, while below the waist and on the legs and feet is worth one point. A miss is termed a ‘swadger’.

If the soggy missile misses its target twice in a row the competitor must down a pot – or half – of ale as quickly as possible.

When all the players in one team have had a go at flonking, the groups swap over. The team with the most points at the end wins.

As the teams enter the playing area they may sing the flonking song ‘Here we’em be t’gether’. The first verse and the chorus is normally sung at the start and the full four verses may be sung at the end of the game

Two teams took part in yesterday’s showdown - the Dog Inn Flonkers from Ludham and the Filby Flyers from the village’s Kings Head pub. And after a close fought game, peppered with plenty of beer-soaked antics, the Flonkers were crowned the winners.

Sue Hancock, one of the organisers of the championship match, said despite the small number of teams taking part it had been a great day.

“We had a lot of people here watching and joining in the fun and cheering,” she added. “There was a lot of people that didn’t know what it was all about so we went round to explain it to them and they all watched and thought it was great.

“There was lots of beer splashed about and we all got rather wet.”

The reigning champions, the Jolly Rogers from Nottingham, were unable to defend their title due to a wedding, and another team poised to attend, made up of serving military personnel, could not make it having been called on to active duty.

Mrs Hancock added: “It was all good fun and the camaraderie between the two teams was great.”

The winning Flonkers were presented with the coveted chamber pot trophy and a pennant to hang behind the bar, while the runners up also received a pennant to take back to their pub.

■ Are you bringing back a Norfolk tradition? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

2 comments

  • my mum bless her was the lewis smith of flunking a dwile around me and my brothers kite's if we walked on her clean floor. She would have scored three every time, I can still smell that dwile.

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    trev

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

  • I thought it was young farmers in the early sixties at one of the shows. (I pay no heed to Wiki, village and local affairs pages seem contributed by move ins businesses and cranks) I suspect there was a much earlier private version when mothers sick of swabbing pamment floors fetched their offspring a clout of the back of the legs with the wet dwile. Those of my vintage might recall that other fearsome threat -the copper stick!

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    Daisy Roots

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

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