Let’s all do the conger!
First cuddle for lyme’s star eel as fishy trad game makes comeback for 4th decade.
Lyme Regis fishmonger Simon Bennett gives the first cuddle to the star of show as the town keenly awaits the return of its old sport of Conger Cuddling, making its comeback next week as the Lyme Lympics team over-turns a seven-year ‘ban’.
Simon, owner of The Old Watch House in Cobb Square, has had the five-foot eel curled up in his freezer in readiness for the conger comeback at The Cobb Arms next Wednesday evening [Aug 1st].
The return will mark the fourth decade of fun for one of Lyme’s traditionally biggest crowd-pullers. The game – in which the dead fish is swung on a rope to knock off contestants standing on plinths/flowerpots - was created in 1974 by Richard Fox, then landlord of Cobb Arms, as a fund-raiser for Lifeboat week.
Conger Cuddling is the only game known to be traditionally exclusive to Lyme Regis.
It ran at the Cobb Arms with great success in the 70s, 80s and 90s – reportedly attracting crowds of up to 3,000 – until 2006, when the RNLI HQ had a ‘disrespecting fish’ complaint and the eel was dropped and replaced by a politically correct but unexciting plastic mooring buoy - which immediately killed all interest in the game.
Now the game is being revived – tactfully outside of Lifeboat Week – by the Lyme Lympics in association with The Cobb Arms and The Old Watch House. The event will come at the end of the oddball Lyme Lympics games, which start on the beach at 5.0 pm.
The Lympics are expected to be filmed for comedian Rory McGrath’s C5 TV series Champions of The World. Rory McGrath has asked to take part in the conger cuddling himself.
Organisers are asking those who want to enter any of the games – at their own risk - to put their names down now, as the number of contestants for some games is restricted. The full list and description of the games is below.
All the games are free and entrants can sign up by texting 07842 711 376 or mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Children’s tug of war – children up to the age of 11 tug of war on the sand.
Children’s spade and ball race – children up to the age of 6 balance a ball on a spade racing on the sand.
Waiters’ race – waiters from local hotels and restaurants run with a tray to fill a plastic cup with water from the sea and race back to the finish.
Motorised fossil race – owners of mobility scooters race along the Cart Road.
8-legged race [children and adults] – teams of four are attached to two skis and have to ‘run’ in co-ordination across the sand.
Tossing the caber [adults only] – entrants show their strength by tossing a sawn-off caber in the sand.
Mermaid racing [adults only] – entrants wearing seaweed wigs and standing inside large sacks hop race on the beach.
Partner jousting [adults only] – Partner A is blindfolded, partner B sits on his/her shoulders holding a beanstick. Partner B must direct A to a line of hanging quoits, hook one off and return to the finish without dropping it.
Sea steeplechase [adults only] – entrants run from Cobb Gate to the Standard, across the pebbles, along the sand and through a series of obstacles in the sea.
Nettle eating sprint [adults only] – entrants compete to eat the most raw stinging nettles in 3 minutes.
Conger Cuddling – played by three teams of nine players each. The nine ‘human skittles’ attempt to stay standing on a flowerpot or plinth as opponents swing a conger on a robe to knock them off. The teams with the last man standing wins.
Due to the expected popularity of the Games, the Lympics organisers are also asking for extra volunteers to be stewards on the day.
Pic: copyright Jill Newton
For further information please contact:
Geoff Baker, Lyme Lympics press office
Published on 24/07/2012.