East of England English Country Backswording Tournament
Oyster Fayre Cup 2009
All goes to plan for “The Spider” man!
Local man Tony 'The Spider' Major from Clifton, Bedfordshire, ensnared victory again
for the second year running at the East of England English Country Backswording Tournament
at Colchester’s famous Oyster Fayre, held in Colchester Castle Park on the 6th and
7th June. Tony the 2008 Oyster Fayre Champion returned to defend his title against
seven crack-cudgel players from across the Shires.
Backswording an ancient sport.....
English Country Backswording is an ancient English sport which dates back for centuries
and was played throughout middle England. It derives from the practice of the single
handed Backsword/ Broadsword. English Country Backswording is a traditional stick
fighting sport where two players fight using wooden cudgels, applying their swordsmanship
skills. Traditionally the first player or 'Old Gamster', as they are known, to raise
a "hinch" (inch) of blood or more above the eye line on their opponents head wins
the bout. In Backswording bouts today the winner is the player who is the first to
score three strikes (Bloods) to their opponents head. The Aisle O'var Backswording
Clubbe, founded by Peter Holland, has been reintroducing the traditional sport of
Country Backswording to the English Shires over the last 10 years. The event held
at Colchester Oyster Fayre is one of several regional tournaments which are held
throughout the year, culminating with the UK English Country Backswording Finals
at The Uffington White Horse Show, Oxfordshire over the August bank holiday weekend.
Oyster Fayre Cup Results
The Oyster Fayre being an outdoor event had been at the risk of being a wash-out
this year due to predicted weather reports, thankfully this was not to be the case
and the weather throughout the whole weekend was fabulous, apart from a minor down
pour on the Sunday morning which did not effect the tournament in anyway.
Competitors for the weekend were:
Tony 'The Spider' Major
Steve 'The Bulldog' Williams
Tina ‘Long Meg’ Holland
Chaz ‘The Groo’ Albrighton
Jack ‘Wolfbain’ Reynolds
West Country Shin Kicking-
Steve 'The Bulldog' Williams
Fighting in the first of the quarter-finals on Saturday morning were Chaz Albrighton
and Barry Voice. The fight was vigorous with a lot of high tempo exchanges. The bout
was won by Barry, ensuring him a place in the semi finals on the Sunday morning.
Up next was Jack Reynolds and Tony Mager, Jack received several well placed blows
on his torso from 'The Spider' during the bout, but fought back valiantly and gained
a 2 bloods to nil lead. Tony seeing the place in the semi finals slipping away dug
deep and used his skill and dexterity to level the score to 2 all. Again exchanges
were fast and furious, until finally Tony scored the winning blood and a place in
the semi final.
Next up in the afternoon session were Tina Holland and Tom Reynolds. The tempo and
speed of play was a joy to watch and this was reflected by the enthusiasm of the
spectators. In the end only one could go through to the semi finals and in this case
it was Tom Reynolds. The last quarter final of the day was fought by Steve Williams
and Andrew McDowell. Steve a former Oyster Fayre Cup Champion proved a formidable
opponent. Andrew put up a brave fight and almost lost through a knock out but regained
his composure and soldiered on. However Steve won the bout decisively.
Sunday Semi finals
Before the semi finals began unfortunately Tom Reynolds had to withdraw due to illness,
so his place was taken by his brother Jack Reynolds who was the best runner up from
the previous day. The first semi final was fought between Steve and Barry both fighters
held their ground during what turned out to be a memorable match. The winner at the
end was Steve 'The Bulldog' Williams securing himself a place in the Final. This
was followed by the second semi final between Jack Reynolds and Tony 'The Spider'
Mager. This was the second time they had been drawn against each other in the tournament.
The exchanges were a joy to watch and the on looking spectators applauded the high
quality of skill displayed by both players. However the in end the match was won
by ‘The Spider'.
The afternoon session began with the Bronze medal bout between Barry and Jack, it
was a hard fought contest, Jack received an actual blood but after time out he was
allowed to continue but even then with most of the crowd behind him for fighting
so courageously Barry Voice won the Bronze Medal.
Now the stage was set for the Grand Final, between the former 2007 Oyster Fayre Champion
Steve 'The Bulldog' Williams and the current 2008 Champion Tony 'The Spider' Mager.
By this time the spectators were nine rows deep, poised to see who the eventual Champion
would be. When the chief stickler announced it was time to bout the audience erupted
in cheers of support and encouragement for their chosen fighters. Both fighters flew
from their positions with cuts, thrusts and counters at speeds which are rarely seen.
The first to score a blood was Steve which was shortly followed up by a second blood,
leaving Tony 2 nil down. By this point the crowd was in a frenzy, with the traditional
chant of ‘blood, blood, blood!' echoing across the whole of Colchester’s Castle Park.
Tony realizing he was only one blood away from losing the tournament, needed to put
everything he had into the remaining bout and within a short space of time managed
to score 2 bloods himself leveling the match. Everything now rested on a single blood.
With the crowd behind them both the players took the fight to a higher level.
The spectators were on tender hooks as strike after strike was warded and countered.
Then during a blazing exchange Tony 'The Spider' Mager scored the decisive winning
blood, to triumphant cheers from the crowd.
“The Spider’s little girl Freya holding her daddy’s cup”
In the end Barry Voice took Bronze, Steve 'The Bulldog' Williams took Silver and
taking the Oyster Fayre Cup and gold medal for the second year in a row was Tony
'The Spider' Mager.
Running alongside the Backswording tournament was also a smaller but just as hard
fought, West Country Shin Kicking tournament. The fighters in the tournament were
Steve 'The Bulldog' Williams, Tina Holland and Paul Edwards. The Final score at the
end of the weekend placed Tina in the Bronze medal position, followed by Steve 'The
Bulldog' Williams in Silver and the Gold went to Paul Edwards.
Winners from left to right - Tina Holland, Steve ‘The Bulldog’ Williams, Paul Edwards,
Tony ‘The Spider’ Mager and Barry Voice.
Thanks and congratulations go out to all participants, video footage of the tournament
will be uploaded in due course.