Tag Archives: eggs

Egg-throwing, cabbage-hurling, onion-wanging and Hardee Comedy Awards

Spot The Cabbage competition 2014

A 2014 Spot The Cabbage competition in Lincolnshire

Throwing things at other things is always interesting especially, it seems, in Lincolnshire.

In a couple of weeks, the World Egg Throwing Championships take place in Lincolnshire and, yesterday, I went up to Holbeach Town & Country Fayre to see cabbage hurling and onion wanging (that’s hurling too).

Both events are connected to the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Andy Dunlop, President of the World Egg Throwing Federation, supervises the Scottish National Russian Egg Roulette Championships during the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at the end of August.

And John Ward, supervisor of cabbage hurling and onion wanging, designed the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award trophies.

Egg smashes on forehead in Amritsar Test Match

Russian Egg Roulette at the Amritsar Test Match in India

Russian Egg Roulette is a bit like the Russian Roulette seen in The Deer Hunter but without bullets and with eggs. It involves two contestants sitting opposite each other at a table on which is a box of six eggs. Five of the eggs are hard-boiled; one is raw and will smash on impact. Each contestant takes it in turn to smash an egg on their forehead. The one who finds the raw egg loses. It is a knockout competition.

Cabbage hurling is for adults. Onion wanging (because of the smaller size of the missile) is for children.

At the World Egg Throwing Championships, trebuchets (basically large catapults similar to but smaller than medieval siege catapults) are used to throw eggs. You have to build and bring your own trebuchets.

Careful preparation is all in the cabbage hurling world

Careful preparation is important in the cabbage hurling world

Thus, too, with cabbage hurling and onion wanging, except two trebuchets are provided.

Yesterday, there were 3½ tons of cabbages delivered in a refrigerated trailer.

“They’re actually grown for coleslaw production,” John Ward told me. “That’s why they’re white not green. They’re all Grade 1. Last year, I asked: Any chance of a box of cabbages? and yea and behold this behemoth of a truck arrived with 4 tons of cabbages. We asked them to cut it back to 3½ tons this year. There’s a limit to how much you can hurl in one afternoon and a lot of them get re-cycled in the field. Each team of three has three attempts and some of the contestants run up and retrieve and use the same cabbage again, shouting: That’s my lucky cabbage!”

Cabbages hurled at tyre targets

Cabbages are hurled at multi-dimensional tractor tyre targets

The object is to catapult the cabbage into one of several marked vehicle tyres for 10, 20, 25 or 50 points. The 10 point tyre is large; the 50 point type is small.

John Ward, who has been known to encourage journalists to call him a ‘junkist’,  told me: “All the scrap metal to build the two trebuchets came from farms in the area. The uprights are from the transit cases for Kubota garden tractors which come from Japan. In transit, they have metal cages, then a wooden box inside and then the tractors are inside that. Normally the cages are unbolted and thrown away as scrap. Last year, someone told me he had a yard full of them and asked: Are they any use to you? ARE THEY ANY USE????? Red rag. Bull.”

John Ward contemplates the ecological impact of hurling

John Ward contemplates the ecological impact of his hurling

“Do you get complaints about wasting food?” I asked.

“I had some herbert this morning,” John told me. “who was ranting at me about wasting food and I told him: Well, if you come back later today, you’ll find it’s all been picked up – all the loose leaves and everything – and it all goes to animal feed. Cows thrive on all this sort of stuff. There’s no waste. There’s an end product. It’s a win-win situation. We get entertainment. The cows get fed.”

“You could franchise cabbage hurling,” I suggested.

“We’ve been asked to take it round other shows in Lincolnshire. But, at the end of the day, No, it stops here. It’s associated with Holbeach Town & Country Show. Like they have cheese-rolling in the West Country.”

2014 Cabbage Hurling winners with John Ward (lorry behind had 3½ tons of cabbages)

The 2014 Cabbage Hurling winners with John Ward yesterday (The lorry behind had delivered over 3½ tons of cabbages)

The winners get £150 and a silver cup which they keep for a year.

With the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards, the winner gets one of the eccentric trophies designed by John Ward. But he/she gets to keep that trophy forever. I like to think, rather than give a trophy which the winner keeps only for a year, with the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards, we give the winner something interestingly decorative which lasts longer, like herpes.

There is a video report on Cabbage Hurling on the BBC website

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The international sport of egg-throwing – was it Greek, Californian or English?

Andy Dunlop weighs the eggs act alternatives

I’ve just received a press release from organiser Andy Dunlop about the World Egg Throwing Championships which I mentioned in a blog last week.

Apparently, international teams of egg throwers will be flying in for the Championships on 24th June from Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and the USA. The Dutch currently hold the title with a throw of 63.3m

Representing Greece will be identical twin brothers Kiri and Kostas Poulous. They say history is on their side because: “We invented sport egg throwing, against the Persians in 480 BC at the Battle of Thermopylae.”

This claim is controversial.

My comedy chum Martin Soan tells me his troupe The Greatest Show On Legs appeared on the British TV show Game For a Laugh around 1985 throwing eggs.

“Our egg-tossing thing,” he tells me, “came out of a 1981 book called Californian New Games – all sorts of hippy games they’d developed to keep children entertained during early festivals on the West Coast.

“In England, Footsbarn Theatre and people like that had done it in the West Country and, when we were talking to London Weekend Television about appearing on Game For a Laugh, we told them We’ve got our naked balloon dance and they said No. We’re a peaktime family show. Have you got any other ideas? So we said Yeah, we’ve got this egg-tossing competition.

“So Game For a Laugh closed down Covent Garden market in London to stage our egg-tossing.

“But, without telling us, they had arranged for the English cricket team to ‘just by coincidence’ turn up too. Suddenly, we were having these enormous throws from one end of Covent Garden market to the other with cricketers catching the eggs. It was genius.”

However, current World Egg Throwing Championship supremo Andy Dunlop says the sport in England dates back to the fourteenth century.

“According to that font of all knowledge Wikipedia,” Andy tells me, “egg throwing in the village of Swaton started circa 1322 when the new Abbot of Swaton, controlling all poultry in the village, used them to provide eggs as alms to those that attended church. When the Eau was in flood these were hurled over the swollen river to waiting peasants.

“I myself,” Andy tells me, “played a version of it at RAF Alconbury in the early 1980s. In 2005, we held our first event at Swaton Show, resurrecting the ancient true sport and the World Championships commenced in 2006.

“The origination of the World Championships was discussed hotly by the committee (seeking to ensure that old tractors and vintage vehicles were not distracted from).

“The question was asked: How could we claim to be the World Championships?

“The answer was that there was not one already and, anyway, with our verifiable ancient claim to the sport (and the web address already purchased) who could object?…. Not even Sport England it would seem, as they have acknowledged egg throwing as a genuine sport.

“We extended the games the following year from two person throw/catch and an egg relay to include target throwing. Then, after that, we added Russian Roulette and egg trebuchet.”

Whether or not the Greeks can prove the claim that their national egg throwing dates back to the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC remains uncertain.

In the meantime, I would just be interested to find a copy of Martin Soan’s claimed Californian New Games book. I can’t spot it on Amazon or elsewhere.

It is almost as if people are making up facts about egg throwing just for a yolk.

There. I said it.

Now I have got it out of my system, I can get on with my life.

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