Marblers battle it out in the Easter snow

A bird's eye view of the bonnet competition being judged, as seen from the Abbey Gatehouse. Photo by Jo Stewart.
A bird's eye view of the bonnet competition being judged, as seen from the Abbey Gatehouse. Photo by Jo Stewart.

THE snow that fell on Good Friday couldn’t stop the annual Battle Marbles competition from attracting hundreds of people at the weekend.

The turnout was high amongst the teams competing and was bolstered by more than 70 children parading their Easter bonnets in order to earn a chocolate egg.

Kay Hunting, who organised the event for the Battle Chamber of Commerce, said: “Ten years ago around 12 teams took part, now it’s 28 teams - each with five players - that’s 140 people playing marbles on Good Friday.”

Each year teams compete against each other for the coveted trophies but, alongside the serious element, there’s an opportunity for children to take part in the bonnet competition and to win a handful of marbles from a thousand rolled out in the Marble Scramble

“It’s a tradition in East Sussex and Kent”, explained Kay, “and has come to be a symbol of the start of Spring for us, but, you wouldn’t think that today as it’s snowing!”

Glenn Carrick knows something of the tradition. He’s not missed an opportunity to join in for the last 42 years.

“I remember coming to watch it when I was six or seven. We used to queue for the hot-cross buns given out from the back of a van and we’d clamber for the marbles thrown out in the scramble”, he said.

“On my 16th birthday I was picked to play against the Battle Men for the Netherfield Men when they were the only teams competing.

“It’s my 58th birthday today but we got knocked out in the semi final, unlike my first year when I was on the winning side.”

Dale Cromwell is one of the stove-hatted umpires, “It’s more about the costumes really. There’s an amazing amount of work that goes into preparing for this event. It’s fantastic and gets better and better each year. All the pubs do a roaring trade, and that’s good news.”

As Glen Carrick put’s it “You set out to win, but it’s really about the fun and friendship.”