Politically incorrect events a hallmark of early Boxing Day Sports Days at Gloucester

Go you good thing: In 1952, bullock riding was one of the events which drew a crowd at the Boxing Day Sports.
Go you good thing: In 1952, bullock riding was one of the events which drew a crowd at the Boxing Day Sports.

The first ever Boxing Day Sports was held in 1895. It was the year of the second highest flood on record and the biggest bush fire in the district which, despite the best efforts of those involved, only stopped on arrival at the coast.

The first site was a little paddock between the river and the original school buildings on Barrington East Road. In 1896/7, the sports were held in what was known as the "Tannery Paddock" on Moore’s property on West Road. In 1898/9, Barrington Village came into the picture and the sports was at the back of the village. In 1900 and subsequent years until the early ‘60s, the sports were on the reserve near Barrington Bridge. 

The Community Hall was built in 1910, and in 1911 it was decided future Sports Days would raise funds for the local hall, where dancing took place after the sports. The Boxing Day dances survived a few years longer than the sports.

The program of events evolved over the years with some interesting inclusions. A combination of horse events, bullock riding, athletic competitions for young and old. The 100 yard handicap was a highly competitive event.

The novelty events were popular though many would not be seen as "politically correct" today. For example: the Duck Race where contestants lined up on the river bank while a duck was liberated, the duck dodging among the pursuers, half flying, half swimming until it was grabbed by the leg to claim the prize; and hotly contested pillow fights.

"Catch the Rooster" or the "Greasy Pig" was loved by the children, while The Cigarette Race, where the lady raced halfway up the course, lit the man’s cigarette, tied a ribbon around his arm and ran back to the starting point, would certainly be frowned upon today. 

Obstacle races; guessing the weight of a dressed sheep; throwing at the wicket, and for the ladies, broom throwing; were all annual events.

Results from the Sports Days can be found in past copies of the Gloucester Advocate and make fascinating reading. If any of you have photographs of any of the events, the Museum would love to copy them for our archives.

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