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Dick Barrie's picture

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Well, last Saturday saw us sorting out the bogey team well and truly!

Actually, I’m not sure where that term comes from – I suppose it must be because Peterborough, having done so well against our Bandits for so long, were getting right up out noses…..

But that was then and this is now. Forget the Panthers, we’ve done them good and proper – this Saturday we’ll be looking into a different cage --- bring on the Bears!

We went to Redcar earlier this month, and I enjoyed walking around the stadium, talking to folk.

Some of the Bears’ followers were gently poking fun at my, er, maturity. Saying I was an old wrinkly. OK, I know time’s a great healer – but it isn’t much of a beautician, is it?

Those fans were suggesting I was around in the dim and distant past, perhaps even hanging around base-camp when Moses came back down the mountain with the bad news about adultery……

Unkind, to say the least. Maybe I’d been teasing them a bit too much over the years – would that be a form of bear-baiting?

Which was of course a pretty cruel pastime, although popular in Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries.

It faded out in the nineteenth century – partly because of the difficulties in obtaining, and costs involved in importing, the bears.

Not unlike the way speedway may go if we’re not careful, given the difficulties in obtaining, and (especially) costs involved in importing overseas riders!

In the end, bear-baiting was outlawed by parliament passing the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835.

Which doesn’t, mind you, seem to be worrying Theresa-bloody-May if she’s trying to bring back fox-hunting.

But mention of bear-baiting reminds me of this legend. Some hieroglyphics, found scrawled on a wall in Syracuse from a couple of thousand years ago – the time of the Greek-Punic Wars, when Sicily was under Greek control – were deciphered in the mid-twentieth century, and told a fascinating tale.

It seems there was a wide boy called Arktophonos – the bear-man – who was forced to flee from what was a normally-hospitable city when vital aspects of his travelling bear-baiting show (the bears, we might imagine) failed to show up for the main, sold-out event.

Apparently he wasn’t granted a bear-replacement facility, and didn’t do rained-off tickets, either.

What he did do, according to the graffiti, was take the day’s proceeds with him as he hurriedly departed Syracuse, resulting in a riot, leading to the total destruction of the empty arena by the out-of-pocket punters.

Arktophonos therefore not only kept all the money as he made himself scarce, he had his erstwhile customers provide their own entertainment!

Now, THAT’S what I call a promoter!

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Want to disagree with Dick (as many do?). He will always be happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm.co.uk