Hallaton Bottle Kicking: Villages compete in bruising tradition

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Hallaton bottle kickingImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Residents from Hallaton and Medbourne take part in the traditional bottle kicking contest every Easter

An age-old contest to take barrels across streams in Leicestershire took place as Easter temperature records tumbled across the UK.

The Hallaton Bottle Kicking game – claimed to be one of the country’s oldest sports – attracted hundreds of people on Easter Monday.

The tradition sees villages Hallaton and neighbouring village Medbourne compete to move barrels across one of two streams.

Hallaton emerged victorious again, retaining the title they also won in 2018.

Hallaton bottle kickingImage copyright Joe Giddens/PA
Image caption Warrener John Morrison leads the hare pie parade before the game begins
Hallaton bottle kickingImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption A hare pie is blessed and eaten before every match
Hallaton bottle kickingImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The bottles are in fact small barrels
Hallaton bottle kickingImage copyright Joe Giddens/PA
Image caption The barrels can hold about a gallon of beer

The annual event is believed by some to have its roots in Roman times and serve as an inspiration for rugby.

It begins with the eating of a hare pie, which is blessed by a vicar and “scrambled” among the crowd, and then descends into a contest with few rules.

Hallaton bottle kickingImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The bottle kicking game has few rules and is notoriously rowdy
Hallaton bottle kickingImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some believe the game served as an inspiration for rugby
Hallaton bottle kickingImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The fierce contest has been raging for centuries

The villagers must move the bottles across streams one mile apart, and can use any means necessary to do so.

Hallaton bottle kickingImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The bottle kicking game involves getting barrels of beer over one of two streams
Hallaton bottle kickingImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Injuries are not uncommon in the no-holds-barred competition

This year’s bottle kicking match took place on the hottest Easter Monday on record, with parts of the UK hitting as high as 25C (77F).

Hallaton bottle kickingImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bloody faces are part and parcel of the bottle kicking tradition
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