After a titanic struggle which lasted well over two hours, a bit of the old up-and-over worked wonders for Hallaton in today’s epic Bottle Kicking battle.
Both villages, Hallaton and Medbourne, were predicting a too-close-to-call encounter. And so it proved. Although not necessarily in the 2-0 scoreline.
Both scrums today lasted over an hour, with Hallaton’s combatants finally scoring the decisive bottle in the best-of-three match at about 6pm.
Joe Fox, of Kettering, played a big part in scoring a point, after his father Rob (pictured above) - a Bottle Kicking veteran of some 20 years - had also featured prominently for Hallaton.
Bottle Kicking chairman Phil Allan, Jack Williams and Sam Linnett also helped in securing the two vital points.
Sam told the Mail: “I have personally competed in the event for the last six years, I do it more for the sporting side and enjoyment of it rather than village rivalry but I take the side of Hallaton due to friends I know there. I’ve scored twice in previous years.
“The first barrel, after a hard-fought competition, broke over the fence to Jack Williams who made an amazing 500-metre run towards Hallaton,
“I was just on his tail. He eventually got caught and tackled by a young gentleman from Medbourne, dropping the barrel. I retrieved it and ran it the last couple of hundred meters, jumping/falling in a brook and across the line for the first win for Hallaton!
“The second barrel got pushed by the scrum early towards a field that had been ploughed, heading downhill towards Hallaton, making it very hard for Medbourne to get it back up the hill.
“With a great effort from the Hallaton boys including Chris Potter, Harry Hollis, the Marlow and Fox boys, the barrel eventually made it to the boundary fence, where Chris Potter managed to throw it over. From here, I believe Joe Fox jumped the brook with it for the win.
“All in all, a great day for Hallaton and as always I look forward to next year’s event.”
A breathless Joe, in between gasps of air, spoke to the Mail just five minutes after the match ended.
“It feels brilliant,” he said. “The first one was really long, well over an hour, but the second one felt longer. It was a real struggle. But it feels brilliant, just brilliant.”
I don’t think he could quite believe what had just happened.
Joe has been coming to watch the Bottle Kicking for the past six years and has taken part in the last three.
It was the same tactic which brought home the victory for Hallaton in both battles.
The keg was thrown over a fence by a team-mate and was then snagged in the air by one of the Fox men, before they ploughed forward as fast as their legs would carry them to the village boundary - and paydirt.
And, for the victors, the spoils. The celebrations are now well underway around the Butter Cross in Hallaton where the winners will quite literally taste the victory - taking gulps of ale from inside the bottles.
For valiant Medbourne, they will receive the wooden dummy keg for the next year as they ponder how to break Hallaton’s strangle-hold of this event. It was Hallaton’s 28th win in the last 31 contests.
Story by Alex Blackwell.