Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling Association

A Wrestling Ballad

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Sunday, January 28th - 8.30am, Espoirs training in the Gym, Currock House, Carlisle.
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The Carlisle Border region has a centuries old tradition of ballads to celebrate local heroes. From the last years of the 16th Century when William Armstrong, "Kinmont Willie", escaped from Carlisle Castle and hanging at Harraby, and Jimmy Dyer, the Carlisle fiddler, wrote a tribute ballad to the wrestler Jim Scott in 1873, local heroes have been celebrated in verse. They blend in with the hunting songs of the area. As literature they are dubious, but as whole-hearted praise of admired individuals they are splendid.

Just such a ballad arrived at my house last week brought by Tommy Coulthard of the Lakeland Dialect Society. The author and provenance of the poem was unknown although it was accompanied by a slip from John Peel Productions, a television company: Three Harringtons in a line-up of champions 1984: George and Tom back left and Alf with the All Weights trophy back right

Tom Harrington, Tom Harrington has thrown the strongest of the land
Tom Harrington, Tom Harrington is a legend in Cumberland
A champion of champions , there's few with him compare,
Since first at only sixteen years he fought at Grasmere fair.

Chorus:
So we'll drink success to the Cumberland lads and cheer them three times three
May they wrestle as long as old Steadman did, and be as strong as he.
And when their wrestling days are o'er, and they are laid to rest
May we all say with one accord, the Harringtons were the best.

Three Harringtons in a line-up of champions 1984: George and Tom back left and Alf with the All Weights trophy back right

Tom's cousin Alf's got legs like oak and a right hand like a spade,
Alf's a man of lal few words, an accountant he is by trade,
He makes a ready reckoning with clicks and buttockin'
An' though he missed the crown last year, tonight he'll be kingpin.

Young Paul's a wrestling Harrington of that famous Cumberland clan,
He's only fourteen years of age, but he throws 'em like a man,
With his uncle Alf and Tom and George he's got a lot to match
But he'll take hold an' ne'er let go, a lad for all to watch.
 Lee Wall hiping at Dalston Show

Lal Lee Wall's a Carlisle lad, with some growin' still to come
But he'll wrestle like a terrier and he'll wrestle till it's done.
He's learned the tricks and clicks and chips at th' Carlisle Academy,
And if there's ever a lad with pluck, then lal Lee Wall is he

Young David Bowman's a farmer's lad, just seventeen years of age,
But he'll grass any man when he takes to the wrestlin' stage,
His Grandad was a champion and an heavyweight an all,
So it's in the gallant Bowman blood to make t'other man fall.
Roger Robson in 1972 at Grasmere with Peter |Hunter

Roger Robson was a champ at Grasmere 64
He met 'em all in the 12st class, and laid them on the floor,
Now he teaches all the young uns of Carlisle Academy,
And writes a column on wrestling and knows the history.

Three Harringtons in a line-up of champions 1984: George and Tom back left and Alf with the All Weights trophy back right

 

There was also a heading for George Harrington, but no words followed.

 

In our world of social media, such a piece of writing seems a wonderful anachronism, a surprising continuation of an ancient tradition. Does anyone know who wrote it? And what was its particular inspiration thirty years ago?

(Written by Roger Robson ..... ©All Photographs on this site are the copyright of Roger Robson, Jill Robson, Julian Richardson, Linda Scott or Webmaster. Unauthorised usage is forbidden {2017} ©)

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