Tales From The Edge
This is an occasional series where I go to the edge of North Bucks and show you what I've found.
I don’t often return to a location two weeks in a row, but sometimes it’s to show you something that’s too good to miss, so here we are back at Ickford, in the bottom left corner of the North Bucks Wanderer’s area map.
Ickford's Southern parish boundary is also the county boundary, and it’s the river Thame. The Oxfordshire village of Tiddington shares this boundary, so naturally that’s where we’ll find the annual tug of war between the two villages.
It all started in 1953, the Coronation year. Two farmers, Alec Neil in Ickford and John Bull in Tiddington, started the tug of war as a way to raise money for their village halls. It’s been held every year since, on the first Friday in August.
An enthusiastic and noisy crowd gathered on each bank, and the youth teams came on to loud applause from their supporters.
At first Tiddington were pulling Ickford towards the bank. Then Ickford rallied as the Tiddington side lost coordination. The crowd was going mad. The front man of Tiddington ended up in the river, but Ickford let the rest of them off of the soaking.
In the women’s match, both teams took the strain and there was no movement in the rope for a long, long time. The crowds bellowed encouragement. Then Ickford started to gain ground. Tiddington held them at the river’s edge but in the end had to admit defeat and let the rope go.
The men’s teams were obviously taking the match very seriously. At first there was very little in it, then Tiddington started to gain ground.
The match seemed to be going their way, but Ickford got into their stride and the centre marker was soon moving into the Buckinghamshire side of the river, a few feet at a time. The crowd was roaring.
Tiddington did their best, but in the end they were at the river's edge and their team captain Daniel Brownsill was pulled into the water. It was the end of Tiddington’s seven year winning streak, and the score over the years now stands at Ickford 40, Tiddington 28.
All throughout the matches I had been on the Oxfordshire river bank, because I could get a better view of the Bucks teams from there. I walked out of the field onto the lane and crossed the narrow road bridge, through the gate into the field on the Ickford side, and back to the river.
Competitors were jumping and playing around in the water. Young men were leaping off the banks into the river, making mighty splashes. One man in the water and looking most pleased was the Ickford team captain Matthew French, with the trophy in one hand and a can of lager in the other.
In the Thame.
Ickford man Adrian Gorbett helps members of the Ickford youth team out of the river.
All the villagers I met that day from either county were most friendly; from this event both villages have a really strong community feeling. I dropped into the Rising Sun pub at Ickford before I went home. It was full of happy people; seems like a nice place to live.
Well, that was a surprise! I never thought I’d do a sports report on this blog.