[Home]Mornington Covenanters, The

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Little is known about this mysterious Scottish clan of players other than they took violent exception to any opposing teams (or "temes") or players (or "Guttlies") who failed to observe their somewhat esoteric approach to the rules. In the late 17th Century, religious upheaval was well under way in Scotland with many families being forced to pledge allegiance to sets of beliefs against their will. This enforced action affected many areas of their lives, but none more so than the traditional games (or "gamies") played around the burning peat fires during the long, cold summer evenings.

Mornington Crescent had long been established in the Land of the Rising Kilt and had produced many local variations (too many to go into here, but all detailed in my book "Mornington McCrescent: A History of Shunting in The Trossachs"). One varient was particularly feared and, after many attempts, was finally outlawed by the Kirk, Parliament and the Gentleman's Clubs Society of Peterhead, a most influential body of the time. The precise rules have been lost in time, but there are a few remaining contemporary reports of the weekly bare-knuckle games held in the woods near Aberdeen. We can assume that the basic game was identical to that set as the yardstick during the Manchestere Yardestick Confference For All Ye Goodliemen's Gammes of Chance of 1592. Obviously straddling was encouraged, and double-looping on the third spin was seen as the move of a grand-master. However, the real quirk which set the MC world ablaze was the first legalised use of violence to overcome an opposing players defensive maneouvre. Although direct killing was frowned upon, gouging, hacking and inserting were permissable - in fact they were actively encouraged by true professionals in the region.

With the criminalisation of this bloody conflict came the inevitable underground movements, the most fearsome being the Mornington Covenanters. Legend has it they lived in a cave in the middle of Edinburgh, leaping upon hapless travellers with full-blooded cries of "Ealing Broadway" before cudgelling them with what one parson from Arbroath described as "a cudgel". The Covenanters were strict in their following of the rules as they saw them: spurtling was only to be carried out on the second transverse, March was forbidden as a month, and - most controversially - women could only play dressed as the Pope.It was this final rule that was to lead to their demise when Flora McFlax of Invershookie became Pius XVI and issued a papal bull stating Hawkwind of Thebes' opening must start each game. The bitter infighting destroyed the Covenanters, although some did later go on to form the Conservative Party.

The Mornington Covenanters are now vaguely remembered, and are discussed mainly through the oral tradition of travelling dentists. The serious player wishing to learn more should consult one of the two pamphlets on the subject,both of which are held at a secret address in the Phillipines.

[Reid Bros of Glasgow (unconfirmed)]

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Last edited March 31, 2007 10:40 pm by Simons Mith (diff)