Fancy some free UK sports oddities this summer?


Many sports events cost a small fortune. So why not consider spending some time this summer investigating the ‘stranger’ side of sports in Great Britain – most of which are completely free!

Take shin-kicking for example. The Cotswold Olimpicks originated in Dover’s Hill in 1612, and still today attracts thousands of spectators who roll up to watch a whole host of eccentric sports, one of which involves two contestants who first fill their trouser legs for padding, and then proceed to kick each other.

Holding each other’s arms, and kitted out in steel-capped boots, the contestants bash away at each other until one can no longer stand the pain, and the other is declared victor! And the good news is, it’s completely free to participate or watch – so get yourself along!

If that sounds a bit violent, then perhaps you should try a game of ‘Aunt Sally’. Originally played at fairgrounds, a ball, which is called a dolly, is placed on a spiked wooden plinth. Each player is given six sticks which they throw at the dolly, and the person who knocks off the dolly the most times is the winner. When the game first began, the dolly was a figurehead of a woman with a pipe in her mouth, commonly known as an ‘Aunt Sally’. The game can be still be enjoyed free of charge at village fetes around Oxfordshire in the summer months.

The Cheese Rolling World Championships are also still going strong, and completely free to attend. Held every Spring Bank Holiday Monday in Gloucestershire, a large ‘round’ of cheese is rolled down a steep incline, with hoards of people chasing it, with a view to overtaking it. But be careful – the event has earned a reputation for some quite serious injuries!

A popular annual event north of the border is the Haggis Hurling World Championships. Taking place at the Highland Games in Scotland every June, as well as the hurling haggises, you can expect a fun day out with celebrity guests and Scotland’s renowned ‘Haggis Heavyweights’. It’s free to get in, but save some cash for the haggis lunches!

Finally, consider a visit to the Egremont Crab Fair that takes place on the third Saturday of September where you’ll be able to witness The World Gurning Championships. This involves the contestants competing to make the most grotesque facial expressions possible. Thought to have originated from the faces the locals pull when eating the local sour apples, be sure to pack your camera for this one!