Sherston prepares for first mangold hurl in two years
ONE of Wiltshire’s most colourful sporting traditions returns to Sherston this weekend after a two year break.
The Mangold Hurl is back on, even in the wake of particularly dry summer.
Grand Master Martin Rea said: “The whole village is breathing a sigh of relief.”
Poor weather and the scarcity of what was once a widely-grown root vegetable have dogged the event since it was “revived” seven years ago.
This year’s hurl was also in doubt until a crop was discovered over the border in Gloucestershire and even then it was touch and go with the weather.
Just two weeks ago the decision was made when a successful mini hurl was run as part of the Pop UP village.
“We haven’t had one for two years and we thought: ‘Why not?’” said Mr Rea. “The village is breathing a sigh of relief.”
A Mangold Maid has already been chosen. Jenny Race-Bungay will anoint the Normans in an "adults only" ceremony at the Rattlebone Inn tonight.
She will then ride in the cart as the mangolds make their grand entrance into the arena in the village hall field at noon on Sunday. “I’m not sure she knows what she’s let herself in for,” said Mr Rea. “I think she may be disappointed. They are very, very small.”
Two years ago the contest was fought with some magnificent specimens measuring up to 15ins. This year the projectiles are likely to be six inchers at best because the spring and summer were unusually dry.
“Mind you, they do go further . They are more aerodynamic so we might see some records,” said Mr Rea, determined to look on the bright side.
The competition, won several years ago by a team including Suffolk celebrity farmer Jimmy Doherty, starts with a mass Agincourt Hurl.
Inquiries have already been made by potential teams. In fact an enthusiast from British Columbia in Canada has already asked if he can take part in the 2014 hurl.
“It is wonderful because it is so disorganised. People just turn up and it sort of happens.”
Members of the cricket club will don their white coats and act as umpires and competitions will be run for children and adults.
The Dodington Brass Band, a bar and barbecue are also on the programme.