The Trials & Tribulations of maintaining long standing traditions


Saturday, 17th May (2pm) Sedbergh Gala U9 / U12 / U15 / U18 / Ladies / 13 / AW
Monday, 26th May (1.30) Northumberland County Show U10 / U12 / U14 / U18 World Championship / Girls U15 / Ladies Open / 11½st / 13½st / 14st / AW
Thursday, 29th May (6.45) Killington Sports U9 / U12 / U15 / U18 & 10st World Championship / U21 / Girls U18 / 13st / AW
Rain, the main enemy; Craig Naylor hipes Paul Murray at Gosforth 2013 while chairs look on.

Lack of money can affect Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, but rain is worse. Even long-established hugely popular events can go under after a run of rainy years. Keswick Sports was one of the biggest events to hold wrestling, and for a century it was a major Lakeland sports meeting, but it was finished by an unlucky succession of rainy days in the 1960s.

Wolsingham Show 2008 Richard Fox and John Harrington with the 15st Championship trophy and a lot of mudWolsingham Show recently has had an unlucky series of wet years, and last year they were further hit by erroneous Facebook reports that the event was cancelled. This year the wrestling and other events at the two-day show have had to trim their costs, so there is one less men's categories, and no fourth place prize money. But the show goes on.

Borrowdale, hit by rain last year, will no longer have wrestling this year as they seek to return nearer to the roots of the event as a Shepherds' Meet, focusing on sheep and dogs. Luckily, there may be an immediate replacement as Beamish Museum explores possibilities for continuing the experiment with wrestling last year. Keswick show returns to the list after two years of flood damage. Despite the recession, the number of events on the CWWA calendar remains constant.

Basically, our local wrestling sustains itself from year to year because costs are kept so low. The loss of over a million pounds in funding by the British Wrestling Association after the London Olympics must have been like an earthquake in that organisation.

Our friends in Brittany, the Gouren Fédération, last week issued an impassioned appeal for financial help, "Une nouvelle mobilisation est impérative !!" They are aiming at raising 20,000 Euros to sustain their training programmes and fund a period when they can restructure for the long term.
A few weeks ago I commented on the time and mileage freely given by a roomful of referees at the pre-season workshop, and this largesse of wrestling organisers continues week by week. This year I have been invited to judge at the Westmorland Show, but not in the wrestling ring. Instead, the Belted Galloway classes will parade before me in the cattle ring. As a cattle judge, I qualify for Bed and Breakfast the previous night if I live more than fifty miles away, and 32p per mile travelling expenses. The wrestling judges will be lucky to have free access to the showground.

The likes of Alf Harrington( the CWWA Secretary) and a few others will travel in the region of five thousand miles each this summer to organise wrestling without passing their expenses on to the events they help. A small army of enthusiasts keeps our distinctive sport alive and viable.

© Written by Roger Robson ..... © Photographs by Roger Robson, Jill Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (2014)

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