'Swinging' in the Rain

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Mud Wrestling?I was probably responsible for all the rain that fell in the Lake District last week-end. I should have known better than to recommend Buttermere Show so enthusiastically; but I cannot help myself; I am a serial optimist.

In 1979, in the early days of my wrestling articles for the Cumberland News, I enthused about Alwinton Show: The sun will shine, the trees will be in Autumn colours, and I will talk all afternoon and seem to know everybody. The following week revealed the reality: At Alwinton Show, the place where I promised the sun always shone, three generations of Robsons huddled under several coats and umbrellas, virtually the only spectators when Ken Davidson won the high jump while still wearing his wellies. The steadily increasing downpour drove spectators to shelter and The wrestling Hodgson family, a judge, and two organisers head homeJock Hall had little choice but to abandon the sports.

Lake District events, held in the wettest area of England, are hostage to the weather. Who would have thought that the famous Keswick Sports, the big spending event which could afford to bring world class American athletes to compete in the running events, would be obliterated by a succession of wet years. Even the presence of Jimmy Saville in 1966 failed to stave off its threatened demise when the rains fell. Ironically, a well-funded attempt to restart Keswick Sports in 1992 failed.I wonder why?

Grasmere Sports 1950Despite all this, rainy days can have pleasant memories. Governing Board member Cyril Bragg recalls that his brother, Billy, liked wrestling in the rain especially when he won both the Grasmere and the Heavyweight Championship in downpours in 1950. Cyril remembers at Great Orton Sports, when wrestlers came soaked and dirty from a previous event, and competed bare skinned, like slippery eels.

Bob McGregor had a notable victory at the Holm Show in the early sixties when he felled Ted Dunglinson best-of-three whilst wearing his council worker's huge oilskin trousers te keep me arse dry. Ted, apparently was speechless; in itself a rare event.

My favourite wet day was at Grasmere in 1970. As I walked out into the ring the water met over the top of my feet at Roger Robson at Grasmereevery step. Immediately after I felled Edwin Younger in the 12st final, a Cumberland News photographer took a picture of me with rain-flattened hair, mud splatters and the adrenalin still coursing. That photo with the tag The new English master at Trinity School served to introduce me to my new pupils and colleagues. That photo surfaced again recently in the Evening News pull-out Nostalgia feature on Sport in this area.

My day at Grasmere was not yet finished, for in the All Weights I met the spherical heavyweight, Donald Dayson and At least Rosie enjoys the conditionsdecided to use the conditions to my advantage. I set off backwards, pulling Donald around as fast as possible to induce a slip. All he did was keep his feet on the ground, water-ski-ing after me. At some point my strategy failed and I remember ending flat on my back, motionless, with eighteen stone of Donald on top as the Grasmere waters rose and left me with high tide marks all round my body.

 

Dates:

Friday, 7th November CWWA Presentattion Dinner in the Auctioneer, Rosehill, Carlisle. including music from Lyn Murray, tickets from Alf Harrington 01228 576675

Wednesday 12th November Carlisle Wrestling Club Junior Points Night

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (February 10th 2011)

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