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Anorak | The French Conkerers

The French Conkerers

by | 5th, October 2006

“CONKERS is like rugby,” says Stephane Jally, chairman of La Fédération Française de Conkers.

“The British invented it but we do it better.” Like le sandwich, le Macintosh and le Marks & Spencer.

And now the French have set their eyes on our conkers. Since Britain is only world champion at snooker, darts and conkers, this assault on our superiority should be countered with force. No quarter must be given.

And so the Times makes ready for this weekend’s World Championship of conkers in Ashton, Northamptonshire.

Should the French win, the very real fear is that the tournament will be relocated to some bucolic French setting, and English conquerists, who do nor travel well, will be forced to venture abroad into the heart of darkness.

This battle is not just a battle of conqerest but a clash of civilisations.

And the 22 French players are massed on our shores. M. Jally says his is a “very solid team”, with barely hidden menace. How solid, we wonder? Solid as a layer of French polish or varnish?

But before we get too involved in talk of cheating foreigners coming over her and stealing our conker crown, we read on and thereby learn an uncomfortable truth.

The French team has been created not by some Frenchman who grew tired of knocking snail shells together and looked for a new challenge. No. For équipe française we have an Englishman to thank. Step forward, take a bow (and risk having your nut mistaken for a conker) Stewart Edwards.

Mr Edwards – we will keep a civil tongue – owns a café called L’Entente Cordiale in the village of Abjat-sur-Bandiat in the wilds of the Dordogne.

Says he: “The French are very good conker players. They’ve got the technique and the hand-to-eye co-ordination.”

And he offers a warning. “Whenever the French take up a sport, they turn it into something much more serious then we do. For me, it’s just a game of eccentric beer drinkers. But the French really do want to win.”

Mr Edward has been away too long. He’s gone native. We too want to win. And will not flinch in the challenge.

The French champion, a Regis Offre (crazy name, crazy guy), the enfant terrible of continental conkers, is talking a good game: “I’m calm, I’ve got good concentration and I’m precise. There are similarities between fly fishing and that’s why I’m so impressive with the conkers.”

Oh, the de rigueur bravado! It’s a fait accompli! He’s gonna stick his conker on the end of fishing rod. How flash is that!

But we British have a certain savoir-faire. Bred on conkers and raised in the British bulldog playground spirit, we invite the French to come and ‘ave a go if they think their conkers are hard enough.

We will fight with string and shoe lace. And will look to deliver the coup de grace and see off the invaders.

They can beat us at football, rugby, tennis and some other so-called sports, but conkers is ours…



Posted: 5th, October 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink