Dwile flonkers girting for gold at Ludham Bridge: Photo gallery

It could only happen in our green and pleasant land - and even then not every part of it.

As Neil Jones, on holiday from Farnborough on the Hampshire/Surrey border, remarked: 'Round our way they would be far too snobby to do this.'

But having won their battle with North Norfolk District Council's licensing officer who had been concerned about infringements of anti-speed drinking legislation, the organisers of the world dwile flonking championships were able to announce: 'Let the girting begin.'

A growing throng of spectators outside the Dog Inn, at Ludham Bridge, looked on in wonderment yesterday afternoon as one team began circling, or girting, round an individual from the opposing team armed with a stick or driveller.

As soon as he or she used the driveller to pick up a beer-soaked rag - the dwile - from the gazunder (a pot filled with slops), those watching knew it was time to duck.

For in a split second, the dwile was launched at the girting team: a hit on the head would chalk up three points while two misses in a row would spell a forfeit.

However, as part of the compromise agreement with the council, the hapless player had the choice of tipping half a pint of ale over his head instead of drinking it.

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While the rules might seem more infuriatingly complicated than cricket, there were even some foreign holidaymakers who seemed to be enjoying the spectacle.

After some preliminary rounds, the three-game final came down to a contest between experience and drink-fuelled enthusiasm.

The defending champions from two years ago, the Pippin Flonkers from Coventry, had on this occasion formed a dream team with players from the Dog Inn (the veritable Lords of dwile flonking).

Extolling the virtues of the game - 'no skills whatsoever apart from a good right arm' - captain Robyn Hancock, 23, told of her unavailing efforts to introduce dwile flonking to her Coventry local. 'They banned it on health and safety grounds,' she said.

Perhaps intimidated by their opponents' Usain Bolt-style warm-up press-ups, the rebranded Pippin Doggers quickly found themselves out-flonked by a stag party group from Nottingham dressed as pirates.

Bridegroom-to-be Rob Gauntlett-Munn, 29, said: 'Our Broads cruiser is moored up at Ludham Bridge and we just came along to the pub. Dwile flonking is great fun and we would only be drinking otherwise.'

The steel engineer said he would be looking to introduce the sport to pubs back home and the Jolly Rogers would certainly be back to defend their title.

The organisers, pub landlady Lorraine Clinch and Sue Hancock, administrator of thenorfolkbroads.org, a Broads information website and chat forum, said that now the licensing issues had been resolved, they would be looking to stage a bigger pub games event next year.

And next year's championships could become a re-unification match a la boxing.

For following an article in the EDP last week, London-based surveyor Michael Kemp rang up to insist he was the original world champion.

He said: 'I was invited to to the UEA in the summer of 1977 to take part in the first dwile flonking world championship which I won along with my team mates from Reading University. Lots of teams were invited from various universities but only we managed to make it to the event so it was a straight - well may be a bit wobbly - fight between UEA and us.

'The trophy was a large concrete block marked world champions in blue paint. Having spent a year in an office in Reading university's student union, it was last seen propping up the back axle of a friend's Morris 1100.'

He vowed to bring his friends back to Norfolk next year for a match to find the true champions.

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