The Daily Telegraph
Revival of an ancient country sport is kick in the shins for health and safety brigade
A SPORT dating back centuries in which competitors kicks each other’s legs has been revived.
The annual Shin-kicking Championships in Gloucestershire was called off in 2017 after health and safety demands affected funding, the chairman said.
It was cancelled again last year and this year after pandemic restrictions. But the competition has been reinstated for 2022 after a £5,000 grant to Robert Dover’s Games Society.
Richard Caborn, a former sports minister, said: “Can it even be defined as a sport? It’s barbaric. Is there a skill set? I think the best thing is for people not to do it. It doesn’t fall under any definition of sport. It’s not going to catch on, put it that way! It definitely won’t get in the Olympics. I think it’s crazy.”
Andy Norton, chairman of the society, said that the grant would help cover the “multitude of costs” associated with hosting the event.
“We are extremely grateful for the help of Gloucestershire council, which means we can feel confident the 2022 Cotswold Olimpicks will be a memorable day for our local community, as well as the hundreds of visitors we expect from further afield,” he said.
“While all members of the Robert Dover’s Games Society give their time and energy free, there are a multitude of costs associated with staging this event.
“These include sports equipment, marquee, fireworks, torches for the parade afterwards, building materials
for the restoration of the castle on the hill, barriers and fencing, entertainment (band, sound and lighting for the party), generator, skips, bins and toilet facilities, transportation to and from Dover’s Hill and security services.
“In addition to all these operational costs, we are also making a number of enhancements to our website to increase online ticketing, donations and merchandise sales. This will help us to get a head-start on our funding for the games beyond 2022.”
Shin-kicking began in the Cotswolds
in 1612, attracting thousands of spectators. It has been part of the Cotswold Olimpick Games in Chipping Campden since 1951. Metal toecaps and shorts are banned. Participants are invited to stuff their trousers with straw to minimise the impact. Around a dozen people are allowed to compete against each other. The battle starts with the competitors putting their hands on each other’s shoulders with their arms straight.
Maintaining that position, they must try to kick each other in the shins to unbalance the opponent then throw
them to the floor. Whoever achieves the most throws over three rounds wins. A “stickler” oversees the contest.
The grant came from a £500,000 Build Back Better Market Towns pot set aside by the council. The funds will help revitalise market towns and boost the local economy. Julia Thomson, of the Royal Osteoporosis Society, said: “Shinkicking is not recommended as a sport as it can be extremely gruelling and could cause long-term damage to bones, particularly for competitors with low bone density or osteoporosis.”