The Haxey Hood will go-ahead as planned this weekend – despite only one of the four pubs taking part in the traditional game likely to open for business.
The centuries old game in the Isle of Axholme normally sees drinkers from three pubs in Haxey and one in Westwoodside competing to win the prized Hood for their favoured watering hole.
But it is understood that all three pubs in Haxey – The Kings Arms, The Loco and the Duke William – will all be closed for this Saturday’s contest.
It means just the Carpenters Arms at Westwoodside is likely to be open – and has forced organisers into a change of rules for the 2019 contest.
Normally, victory in the game is declared when the landlord of the winning pub takes delivery of the Hood on the venue’s doorstep, the leather tube having been pushed and swayed there after hours of exhausting and bruising battle in the muddy fields.
A Hood spokesman said the game would still go ahead as usual between the two villages – with teams representing the Carpenters for Westwoodside and the Kings Arms for Haxey.
Both The Loco and Duke William are understood to have requested not to be involved.
Should Westwoodside triumph, the victory ceremony will be the same as usual but should Haxey succeed, a win will be claimed when the Hood reaches a determined point near the Kings Arms pub, with the Lord of the Hood declaring the winners and the prize going on show when the venue is open again.
The future of the game, which dates from around 1359, had been thrown into doubt after a controversial twelve months in the village.
Shortly after last year’s game, which was won by the Carpenters’ Arms, controversial plans were unveiled to demolish the Duke William and turn it into houses.
Villagers fought the proposals and in November, the scheme was unanimously rejected by North Lincolnshire Council.
It is not known if the rejection of the scheme – which was submitted by landlord Paul Chapman –has any bearing on the pub being closed for this weekend's game.
READ MORE: Haxey Hood pub plans rejected
The Kings Arms has opened, closed and re-opened on a number of occasions since its victory in 2017 while The Loco, which last won in 2015 is also expected to be shut this weekend.
Traditionally, Hood officials tour the four pubs ahead of the game, drinking and singing songs in each and it is not clear how that will disrupt this year’s game.
However, despite the uncertainty, hundreds of people are still expected to descend on Haxey for the contest which normally gets under way with the Fool’s Speech at 2.30pm followed by the game around 3pm.
The official story of the Hood is that in the 14th century, Lady de Mowbray, wife of Isle landowner, John De Mowbray, was out riding towards Westwoodside on the hill that separates it from Haxey.
As she went over the hill her silk riding hood was blown away by the wind.
Thirteen farm workers in the field rushed to help and chased the hood all over the field.
It was finally caught by one of the farm workers, but being too shy to hand it back to the lady, he gave it to one of the others to hand back to her.
She thanked the farm worker who had returned the hood and said that he had acted like a Lord, whereas the worker who had actually caught the hood was a Fool.
So amused was she by this act of chivalry and the resulting chase, that she donated 13 acres of land on condition that the chase for the hood would be re-enacted each year.
The contest is always held on the Twelfth Day Of Christmas - January 6, unless the date falls on Sunday when its held on January 5.
The red-coated overseer of proceedings is the Lord of The Hood. He is assisted by the Chief Boggin, ten other boggins and the Fool.