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Sporting tradition hit by drink laws

PUBLISHED: 10:59 28 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:53 30 June 2010

The organisers of the inaugural world championship of a traditional East Anglian sport have been sent reeling by news that the age-old rules breach a new law designed to stop drinking games.

The organisers of the inaugural world championship of a traditional East Anglian sport have been sent reeling by news that the age-old rules breach a new law designed to stop drinking games.

A key element of dwile flonking, which sees competitors using a pole to launch a beer soaked cloth at opponents, involves quickly downing a pot of real ale if you miss your target twice in a row.

However, after reading about tomorrow's event at the Dog Inn, in Ludham on a website, North Norfolk District Council licensing officer Tony Gent yesterday visited landlady Lorraine Clinch to inform her that such speed drinking breached legislation brought in earlier this year.

Confessing that the news came as even more of a shock than being struck in the face by a soggy beer cloth, she said: “I was completely taken aback. It seems the law is the law and Mr Gent is only doing his job, but it does seem over the top.

“Everyone is a willing participant and we are not expecting hordes of drunken people turning up to take part.

“It is just a bit of fun and we are only talking about drinking half a pint of real ale provided by our sponsors Woodfordes Brewery.”

The event, which begins at 1pm, has been organised in partnership with the Norfolkbroads.org internet forum group to try to encourage more people to visit the region.

Sue Hancock, who helps to run the forum group and was yesterday travelling to Norfolk from her home in Coventry, described the ruling as “stupid” and “petty”.

She said: “It is just a bit of local tradition and this is a shot in the eye to pubs who try to boost their trade and help tourism.”

She explained that under the traditional rules a “flonker” who missed with his rag twice had to drink a pot of ale before the opposing team, standing in a circle, could pass round a rag one to the other.

It was a key element and they would now be having a crisis meeting at the pub to determine an acceptable change to the rules.

“It is too late to cancel the event. We have got teams coming from as far afield as Coventry and London,” she said.

The organisers are still looking for extra teams to compete in the games, which are believed to have been revived in the 1960s in the Beccles and Bungay area after a set of rules were found in an attic.

It is expected to attract a large crowd of spectators who will also be able to see welly wanging and horseshoe pitching.

The council's licensing manager Chris Cawley said as a result of legislation brought in from the start of April, new conditions on liquor licences banned games which encouraged drinking alcohol in such a manner.

He said the purpose of their visit was to alert Mrs Clinch to the law change so the rules could be adapted satisfactorily.

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