Saturday, 21st May - Cumbria North Federation of Young Farmers Clubs' Field Day - near Calthwaite
Saturday, 21st May - Sedbergh Gala: U12 / U15 / U18 / Girls / 13St / AW
Monday, 30th May 1.30pm  -  Northumberland Show, Corbridge: U10 / U14 / U18 / GirlsU15 / Girls Open / 11½ / 13½ / AW
Thursday, 2nd June 6.30pm  -  Killington Sports: U12 / U15 / U18 / GirlsU18 / 13 / AW

The full flow of the Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling season has been on hold after the opening event, and in that time yet more requests have come in to use our wrestling as a sort of cultural background rather than as a sport.

In the past couple of months two sophisticated London-based magazines, “Vogue” and “The Lady” have wanted images of our traditional wrestling strips. The Cornish Wrestling Association wants wrestlers for an exhibition at the Royal Cornish Show. A boxing-booth style travelling exhibition, which would include us, is proposed for the Olympics 2012 preliminaries. An American wrestling coach seeks information about books on our sport.

The TV programme “Escape to the Country” wants to use wrestlers as a pictorial signature for this area, and most recently, a researcher for ITV’s “Ade in Britain”   ....“a Great British culinary trip” has been in contact . They are to go county by county looking at “traditional foods, iconic buildings, beautiful landscapes, fantastic wildlife and meet heart-warming characters in a celebration of what makes Britain so uniquely British”.

Another request came from Jean-Francois Hubert of the Breton Federation, but I class his message as significantly different to the others, for he seeks to know of our fixture list so that Breton wrestlers can come here to sharpen their backhold wrestling. His question will lead directly to more wrestlers competing in our rings in the Summer.

We must be careful to value the requests from magazines and television for they promote awareness of our wrestling and its provenance. We are, after all, not only a sport but also a cultural identifier, an icon. As such our sport may be strengthened, but only very indirectly, and in ways difficult to analyse.

Nevertheless, with delight and relief, I can turn to the main business of Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling: the athletic action in the ring. Tomorrow, a pile of strong young people, male and female, novices and the experienced, will fill the ring for the wrestling competitions as part of the North Cumbria Federation of Young Farmers Field Day. No-one can overestimate the importance of having wrestling as a regular and central part of the Field Day, part of the way of life in this area. On the same day, the Kendal and Milnthorpe wrestlers will be at Sedbergh Gala for the first event in their area. On the Bank Holiday Monday the focus shifts to The huge Northumberland Show where wrestling is a well-established feature. Then on Thursday Evening from 6.30 till black dark the action moves to Killington Sports.

A gathering of the young rural community; a small town gala; a massive agricultural show; a traditional North Country sports meeting: these events are the core of our wrestling and all else is window dressing.

Written by Roger Robson © . Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson, Linda Scott © (May 21st 2011)

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