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At a time when driving into town can involve weather forecasts and a shovel in the car boot, it is good to think of wrestling in the Canary Islands in the Spring or even Brittany in February.

The following invitation goes to any of our wrestlers and academies:

“ Dear friends,

La Fédération de Gouren et skol Gwipavaz organise the BACK-HOLD BRETAGNE CHAMPIONSHIP in GUIPAVAS (near BREST ) Saturday february 26 2011. The competition is open to the IFCW members and other invited. We will be pleased to receive your delegation in Guipavas Friday, February 25 in late afternoon to Sunday morning February 27. Friday night and Saturday meals, as well as accommodation from Friday to Sunday will be borne by the organizers for 1 referee or official and 5 wrestlers (boys and girls) by delegation. Additional persons will be housed in the same place for 30 euros per day (night, breakfast, lunch) and if you return register before January 15. (Note that after this date, we can not guarantee accommodation)."

Our wrestlers are sprinkled through the line-up for a previous Breton Backhold Championships in Guipavas

The story behind this invitation is that over many years the Breton Wrestling Federation (Gouren) has used our more basic back-hold style to initiate youngsters into the world of wrestling at schools and in their many clubs (Skols). They are also aware that half the points in the European Championships are awarded for the back-hold style. To this end they encourage their wrestlers to "tek hod" on their club mats, and a dozen or so of their best young wrestlers come to the North of England for the busy Grasmere period. With so much interest and with their usual efficiency, the Bretons each year organize the Breton Championship of our style of wrestling, with over a hundred wrestlers competing. Attendance from this side of the Channel has been variable. I once took Russell Housby as our sole representative to a dangerously snowy Brittany many years ago.

Milnthorpe Academy, under the aegis of their coach David Parsons, lifted our representation for a few years, and then much bigger numbers from Carlisle and Rothbury and Kendal led to coach trips which were successful both socially and athletically. Unfortunately, that level could not be sustained and no-one attended last year.

In early January, too, there will be a Special General Meeting of the International Federation in St Malo to resolve some damage issues from the last European Championships and to prepare for the next event which takes place in The Canary Islands in late March. The Canarians want to have their own wrestling style as part of the championships, but a third style would create all sorts of problems for wrestlers and organizers.

Past and Future: Bob McGregor, who wrestled for Gilsland Academy and then was active in the new Carlisle Wrestling Club forty years ago, cuts the birthday cake alongside the youngsters

Carlisle Wrestling Club's Fortieth Birthday Celebration brought together the wrestling generations to eat, talk, and watch the youngsters in action and a slide show of wrestling action at more than forty of our affiliated events. A CD is available from me (016974 73559)

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott ( December 16th 2010 )

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