Don Your Way column: Haxey Hood is totally bonkers – so let’s keep it that way

Let me begin by first of all wishing you all a Happy New Year.

I trust you all had a good one and are now busily digging out the scales, putting away the booze (in the cupboard, rather than down your neck) and chucking the packets of fags in the bin.

Darren Burke says the Haxey Hood is a truly bonkers British tradition.

Darren Burke says the Haxey Hood is a truly bonkers British tradition.

Yes, 2019 is upon us and while some things stay the same (failed New Year Resolutions, all that New Year, new me stuff and Jools Holland) there's going to be something a little bit different going on in one corner of Doncaster this weekend.

READ MORE: Don Your Way: Taking a trip back in time over Doncaster on the Goodyear airship

Saturday of course is the staging of the centuries old tradition of the Haxey Hood.

And while the yearly game of rough and tumble in the muddy fields between Haxey and Westwoodside has been going since 1359, this year's event is going to take a rather distinctly different look from previous years.

Normally contested between drinkers from four pubs split between the two villages, this year, only one is likely to be open for business on the day.

READ MORE: Don Your Way: Getting fit or giving up – are you set for the New Year?

I won't bore you with the particulars of why The Loco, Kings Arms and Duke William will be shut, leaving just last year's victors The Carpenters Arms open for business, other than to say tensions in the village have been frayed over the last 12 months after a controversial plan to knock the Duke William down and replace it with houses was fiercely opposed and eventually rejected by the council.

And as sad as it may be that the beer won't be flowing as much as normal, Hood officials are determined to ensure the tradition will carry on.

It existed before the pubs did and will no doubt exist long after they have all gone too.

I spent many years reporting on the Haxey Hood without ever seeing it unfold as a spectacle before my very own eyes.

READ MORE: Don Your Way: Why we need to celebrate Doncaster’s pubs

All that changed a few years back when I was dispatched out there for the very first time. And ever since then I've been a convert.

Truly bonkers events like the Haxey Hood are what make Britain great. Try explaining to a non-Hood fan why hundreds of men and women are wrestling in the mud and cold for hours on end over a tube of leather and people will look at you like you're nuts.

Boggins, Smoking The Fool, The Sway - its like a foreign language if you've never indulged, for those in the Isle of Axholme its firmly in the blood and a tradition that's more eagerly anticipated than Christmas and New Year.

If you've never been, pull on your walking boots or wellies, wrap up warm and take a drive out to Haxey this Saturday and support one of the nation's oldest and craziest winter pursuits.

Enjoy a taste of Hood, sweat and beers and help keep a very British tradition well and truly alive for years to come.