Leicestershire villages compete in annual Easter Monday ‘bottle kicking’ contest

Two neighbouring villages in Leicestershire have competed against each other in an annual Easter sporting tradition known as “bottle kicking”.

The contest between Hallaton and Medbourne takes place every Easter Monday and participants compete to bring a wooden barrel of beer across a boundary stream in their respective village.

The “bottles” – old wooden field barrels holding about a gallon of beer – are sealed with wax before the annual contest.

Two of the bottles are filled with beer and the third, called the dummy, is made of solid wood and painted red and white.

Hallaton was victorious in this year’s contest, winning the best-of-three event 2-0.

The event on Monday afternoon was preceded by a parade led by the Nene Valley Pipe Band and the ceremonial slicing up and distribution of a Hare pie.

Hallaton Bottle Kicking
The Hallaton Hare Pie is seen before it is sliced and distributed (Joe Giddens/PA)

This year’s contest marks 50 years since its chairman Phil Allan joined the event’s organising committee in February 1974, aged 16.

A post on the event’s Instagram page read: “Phil’s, or Pinny as he is known to the locals, commitment to the bottle kicking is relentless and his efforts in organising and efforts in the field over the years never overlooked.

“Funny how over the 50 years the world has changed so much yet you can be sure there is very little change of the vibe in the village of Hallaton and Medbourne on Easter Monday and how the game is played in the field.”

The winning team celebrates by being lifted onto Hallaton’s historic stone Butter Cross and the opened bottle is passed up for players to drink from before being distributed around the crowd.

Alicia Kearns, Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton, posted on X: “The game which legend tells us inspired rugby, bottle kicking, takes place today in Hallaton.

“A piece of history that gets played Easter Monday every year. Quite the show.”