Ransom note for flonking prize

Anybody who has ever watched an episode of Midsomer Murders or Miss Marple will know that curious crimes and strange goings-on always seem to happen in quiet little villages.

Anybody who has ever watched an episode of Midsomer Murders or Miss Marple will know that curious crimes and strange goings-on always seem to happen in quiet little villages.

And as eager teams gathered at the Racehorse pub in the normally sleepy village of Westhall, near Beccles, for a bank holiday dwile flonking match, something important was amiss.

The world of dwile flonking, a traditional Norfolk and Suffolk pub sport, has been rocked by the theft of the gazunder trophy - so called because it “goes under the bed” - being a chamber pot.

Although the weekend's tournament went ahead without a trophy for the winning team, the gazunder's worried owners were taunted on Wednesday by the arrival of what seemed to be a ransom note.

The delivery, which contained a poem entitled An Ode to the Dreamers of Westhall Racehorse and an up-to-date photo of the pewter chamber pot, followed a mysterious telephone call to the pub earlier in the week telling landlady Bella Aldred that the trophy should never have been at her pub.

But the poem, which contained such carefully-crafted phrases as “We have the pot and rightfully so / Fairly contested 40 long years ago,” and “Check the press records from archives past / See that the Blythe Valley Flonkers never came last,” also revealed the identity of the trophy thieves.

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The Blythe Valley Flonkers, a team based in nearby Halesworth, claim to have won the trophy fair and square in August 1968 at the Beccles championships, where dwile flonking was an annual event.

The infamous gazunder pot was commissioned by Southwold brewery Adnams for the dwile flonking section of the Beccles Festival of Sport in the 1960s when the sport was revived by rival local teams from Beccles and Bungay.

The story has it that its rules were discovered on a piece of parchment called Ye Olde Book of Suffolk Harvest Rituels in a Bungay attic in 1966 and that the rules of the sport were the only piece that could be read. And now the missing trophy, coupled with decades of fierce sporting rivalry, has provoked a war of words between the opposing flonking teams.

Rob Devereux, a member of the Westhall team and one of the sport's co-founders, said that the trophy belongs at the Racehorse, which he described as the sport's “international headquarters.”

He said: “I'm absolutely livid. You don't keep the FA Cup when you win it, do you?

“I never thought I would have to get my driveller out again, but we want to challenge them for it - they should put their dwile where their flonk is.”

But Buzz Took, secretary of the Blythe Valley Flonkers, said his team are the rightful holders of the trophy and will not be challenged for it.

He said: “We've retired gracefully and that's it. All our boys are almost 70, we won't come out again, it's a done job.

“There were no laughs and jokes with the Blythe Valley Flonkers, we took it very seriously. I nearly got divorced 20 times because of dwile flonking, that's how seriously we took it.

“How Westhall can claim to be the home of dwile flonking, I don't know. I might challenge Rob to a duel.”

t “Flonk” is an Old English word for ale and “dwile” is a knitted floor cloth.

Two teams are formed and a sugar beet is tossed to decide who is going to “flonk” first.

The team which is not flonking holds hands and dances round in a circle, known as “girting”.

A member of the opposing team stands in the middle of the circle holding a “driveller,” a 3ft wooden pole, on the end of which is a beer soaked dwile.

The flonker turns anti-clockwise and flonks his dwile at the opposing circling team, scoring points depending on where he hits - three point for the head, or “wonton”, two points for the chest, or “morther”, and just one point for a “ripper” anywhere below the belt.

If the dwile misses completely it is known as a “swadger.” When this happens the team forms a line and the flonker starts to drink beer from the gazunder.

The flonker must drink until the dwile has passed from hand to hand along the line.

The team with the highest number of points wins, deducting one point for every player still sober at the end.

Traditional dress, including hobnail boots, embroidered smock and pork pie hat, is encouraged.

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