Played out across the fence behind the Squirrel Lickers Arms, a thrilled crowd was treated to a majestic display by the heroes of the 9th Annual Snail Hurling Championship.
With everything to play for and a largish bucket of snails at his disposal, much was expected from reigning champion Phil Evans.
Using snails bred as much for their mucal adhesion as their aerodynamically neutral shells, the way Phil tore through the preliminary heats left many competitors shell-shocked.
Over a range of 20 yards, it seemed Phil just couldn’t miss the roundeled wooden target, the crowd cheering with every splattery direct hit.
With just one competitor remaining, Evans looked certain to retain his crown. But across the Fence of Kings, nothing is ever a certainty.
Hurling first, Phil scored a direct bullseye with a firm and solidly built snail, that clung to the centre like its very life depended on it.
And so it would prove. Shrouded in black and steely eyed, his mystery challenger stepped up to the mark. An expectant hush filled the beer garden.
What happened next will forever be recorded in the annals of hurling lore. A flick of the wrist, a snail whistling through the air…and the first snail split assunder by the deadly accuracy of the second. An astonishing display of mollusc missile mastery.
The crowd exploded like Phil’s snail, the front ranks flecked with sticky shards of shellac, and those weird pointy-out things that have an eye on the end.
Who was this daring champion, who arrived with nothing but left with the very spoils of sport? We may never know for sure: her name in my notebook will forever remain smudged with snail mucus.
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