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Shades of Old Sports
Jeannette Bruce
October 29, 1973
Harken this Halloween to those ghostly athletes from beyond the grave: the motorcycle racer of Surrey, the phantom of oldtime games, the wraiths that go bump (and run) in the night
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October 29, 1973

Shades Of Old Sports

Harken this Halloween to those ghostly athletes from beyond the grave: the motorcycle racer of Surrey, the phantom of oldtime games, the wraiths that go bump (and run) in the night

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Not far from Taunton is Winchcombe, in the heart of the Cotswolds, where the favorite game a century or so ago was not skittles but kickshins. Two players faced each other and placed their hands on each other's shoulders. The object was to kick each other's shins, guarding their own with their shoes, and often a second pair of shoes were called for, the first being kicked to pieces. Naturally, a town as old as Winchcombe, which still runs a hotel 800 years old, has its array of shin-kicking ghosts.

Then there is Margaret's Hollow, named for a lady who is said to have been murdered there. Perhaps the killer escaped on a bicycle, for cyclists pedaling along say they are compelled to get off and literally drag their machines through the hollow, someone or something holding them back. Nearby on the heath, at the edge of town, said a postman who was willing to talk of the 'auntings, "a white 'orse prances under the full o' the moon." Had he ever seen it? "No," he confessed, "I've never been that drunk meself." And speaking of spirits, the happiest ghost ever reported was undoubtedly the phantom who used to haunt a cemetery until the local inhabitants, for some reason assuming he might be thirsty, poked a hole in his coffin and poured in a bottle of rum.

Legend has it that a ghost will not speak until it is spoken to, with the possible exception of the Talking Mongoose on the Isle of Man, which had the reputation of being a blabbermouth and was always butting in on live people's conversations until a fellow renting the haunted cottage—who didn't believe in ghosts—went out and shot it.

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