Word on the Streete

Getting down and dirty in Winchelsea

Since history began, people have assembled outside the Armoury in Winchelsea at 11am on Boxing Day for the annual Winchelsea Streete Game, otherwise known as Kicking The Frenchman’s Head.

Three teams, in red, green and blue tabards, and a partisan crowd, assemble. The Games Marshall delivers an address and reads an oath of fealty to the Game and a promise by all not to sue whatever injuries are suffered, and then the tussle in the street starts.

Three teams, one goal and no rules (other than no murder) leads to twenty minutes of mauling and rucking, odd moments of individual running brilliance and, in the last decade, an inevitable victory for the Blue team.

The Games Marshall is perhaps the second longest running great office of England (after the headmastership of Hogwarts) and the current holder explains the transfer of office is as mysterious as that of the creation of the Mayor of Winchelsea!

Social distancing a non-starter

But when a youthful matinee idol Dicky “RomCom” Otto arrived in the town he moved from dashing star of straight-to-video light romances to Games Marshall – and the move was extraordinary, but seamless.

“By the Jurats’ beards, I cannot indulge such a secret, but I have to say that sadly in 2020 we will see the first cancellation of the Winchelsea Streete Game in my decades of tenureship,” says the Games Marshall. “Social distancing is a non-starter in this ancient game, so it is essential this year that we see a break.”

A “Study of the Games” history has patchy details for the early 1830s, when the run up to, and just after, the Great Reform Act of 1832 promised a distasteful move towards democracy in the national government, and an influential group of the town’s citizens sought to double down on such ideas at a local level – so the Streete Game might have taken a short break. But never before or since.

In a relatively new tradition the Games Marshall has already decided, as in recent years, the result of the annual Game before it has been contested. The declaration of the formal result for 2020 is awaited.

Image Credits: Seana Lanigan .


  1. Hi
    This is fake news! I never said any of that nor will the Game be cancelled.
    Black Death of 1348 failed to stop the Antient and Terrible Game. Covid won’t be allowed to either. It will of course change the form and no spectators be allowed (anyone turning up to watch will be tarred, feathered and made to visit the Winchelsea Museum). The players have bubbled within the law and will play.
    By the way, the score will be Yellow 18, Red 12 and Blue 3.
    I can also tell you who will be elected next year as mayor of Winchelsea. And on much the same basis, given the identical voting systems, you are welcome to know who will be elected in 2024 as the President of the Russian Federation and Great Leader of North Korea.

  2. I note that yellow or ‘or’ is the heraldic colour symbolising generosity, and I trust no gold has been passed to ensure the Games Marshall’s indulgence this year!
    Noting the Games Marshall’s knowledge in various elections, Kim Jong-un succeeded Kim Jong-il (the Dear Leader), who followed Kim-il Sung (the Great Leader) – does he think it is worth a wager for North KOfrea 2024 on Kim Kardashian (Rear Leader)?

  3. Now that we are well past the results announcement (which didn’t happen?) – Les Bleus winning by default in the absence of Les Jaunes, or any other pointless tabards – one might consider, in the circumstances, forgetting all about King Lear, or even Kim’s Dear Rear, and voting for Tier Leaders in place of Dear Leaders and providing ample opportunity for increasing the reach of ye Antient Streete Game to all Tier border flashpoints. Although radical, I fancy the proposal could be extended to replace the Game Marshall in each location, lock stock and barrel. Speaking of barrels, it was I who famously stole the barrel from under the Game Marshall’s nose during the 1783 game.

  4. For so long the Yellow team have metaphorically ‘failed to turn up’ on the day and while the Red team always put in effort they are the Accrington Stanley of the ancient Streete Game – blessed with a long, proud history but aching under achievement. A drive-through the sadly empty Winchelsea Streete Game stadium, with it’s deserted Kop opposite the Armoury, at 10.59 am to 11.02 am on Boxing Day by a Blue bubble of three showed that neither Yellows nor Reds actually turned up to claim their richly undeserved victory and second place, let alone compete! This is, of course, in line with the law of the land.
    But when did the Winchelsea Streete Game ever even pay lip service to the laws of the land?
    Is the Games Marshall losing his grip?
    The Blue Team is considering joining the European super league – Jeux de Rue sans Frontieres – and looks forward to derby games against Montreuil and Ostende, where ‘Botter le cul du petit Anglais’ has been given a new lease of life in recent years!


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