Mudcat Café message #3893540 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3893540
Posted By: Jim Carroll
12-Dec-17 - 10:29 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: Lyr Add: THE MOWING MATCH
Richard
This is one of the best examples of a rural-made folk-song using vernacular speech and trade terms I have ever come across
It was recorded by MacColl and Joan Littlewood some time in the 1940s (I think) for a radio programme they made called ?The Ballad Hunter?
Seamus Ennis recorded a 6 verse version of it from around the same area for the BBC in 1952 - in both cases it was sung to the tune 'The Nutting Girl'

From the BBC index.
"Singer: Becket Whitehead. 1.52    Delph, nr. Oldham, Yorkshire. 24.5.52 (S.E.)"
Jim Carroll

THE MOWING MATCH
1    Come all you jolly sporting men
Who love good ale to quaff,
I'll tell you of a moving match
Took place at Brindley Croft.

2    There war Kirby up at Tree-end Clough
And a lad from t' lower-end,
And what those two lads did that day,
Their fame'll never end.

3    Now, Kirkby wur a Tunstead man,
Frae t'houses up i' t' wood,
Among then top-end movers
There war not one so good.

4    And of a' these lads i' Friezeland,
And chaps that moved right weel,
There war one ca'd Tom o' Fearny Lee,
?T could make ?em come to heel.

5    They came up out of Friezeland,
Wi' scythes 'bout shoulder height,
The Lanky lad he carried t'sway,
He could all the movers fight.

6    But Kirkby he stepped up and said,
"Tha munna bother me,
For if that does, I'll tan thy hide,
This day I'll let thi see."

7    There were Bill o' Breadstrup, Cowtail,
Delph-Johnny and Singing Tom,
Small Benny and Bold Bowman,
Frae't lower-end did come.

8    There war many an owd trail-hunter,
And many a real owd un,
And t'finest lads at wrestling
For fifty miles around.

9    Free Grange and Castle-Shaw they come,
Horse-whipper lads so strong,
Wi' necks as red as fighting cocks,
And backs as broad's as long.

1O    An? all these short-head starters.
An' gamblers an' all,
And all those privily wives
They were sitting in a row.

11    Then Krkby's wife spoke up in front,
"Now Jack, my lad," said she;
"If that gets licked wi' t'lower-end,
Tha'll bide no more wi' me."

12    Then Bandy Jack o' Waterside,
Be held the starting gun,
"Come on," he said, "you bold young lads,
It?s time to start the fun."

13    T' lower-end lad was up on 'tleft,
And Kirkby down on t'right,
Their scythes were held dipped into t'grass,
A good and manly sight.

14    Then Bandy Jack o' Waterside,
He fired the starting gun,
And off these mighty mowers went,
T'battle had begun.

15    Wi' flashing scythes these two stout lads
Went chargin' up the field,
Each stroke laid low two yards o' grass,
And neither one would yield.

16    Stroke for stroke they both advanced,
Until the turning-row,
Then Kirkby made a wider sweep
An' t'crowd all shouted, "Go!"

17    T' sweat wur glistening on their backs
And running in t'lads eyes,
But neither one'd mop his face
For fear he'd lose the prize.

18    And when t'owd clocker shouted "Time!"
They both were well-nigh done,
T'crowd wur roaring fit to burst
To see which one had won.

19   Then Bandy lack o' Waterside,
And Gibby from Bleak-Hey,
They both agreed that t'Lower-end lad,
Had won the match that day.

2O    But Kirkby wur not satisfied
About his measurement,
So for Harry o' Thurston-Clough
Two willing lads were seat.

21    And Barry wi' his measuring rod,
He knelt down there i' t'field,
And soon he said t'Lower-end lad
To Kirkby'd have to yield.

22    T'Lower-end lad had cut more length,
But Kirkby'd cut more grass;
A mighty cheer rose up from
Every Friezeland lad and lass.

23    So Kirkby won the mowing-match,
And that concludes my tale,
So new we'll toast good sportsmen all.
In a glass of Friezeland ale.