Dwile flonking

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The English game of dwile flonking (also dwyle flunking) is an East Anglian pub sport,[1] involving two teams of twelve players,[2] each taking a turn to dance around the other while attempting to avoid a beer-soaked dwile (cloth) thrown by the non-dancing team.[3][4]

"Dwile" is a knitted floor cloth, from the Dutch dweil, meaning "mop",[5] with the same meaning in Norfolk dialect, and "flonk" is probably a corruption of flong, an old past tense of fling.[6]


A game of dwile flonking was played at the Beccles Festival of Sport in 1966. According to BBC research, "No one can remember the score, although team members recalled feeling 'pretty fragile' the following morning."[7]

Dwile flonking featured as an element in legal hearings, when assessing an application for a licence extension to cater for the dinner dance of the Waveney Valley Dwile Flonking Association. After the Waveney Valley Dwile Flonking Association appeared on The Eamonn Andrews television programme in 1967, requests for a flonking rule book were received from Australia, Hong Kong, and America.[7]

Schott's Miscellanies claims that a variant of the game is depicted in a 16th-century painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder: Children's games.[8]


According to the Friends of the Lewes Arms, "The rules of the game are impenetrable and the result is always contested."[9]

A "dull witted person" is chosen as the referee or "jobanowl", and the two teams decide who flonks first by tossing a sugar beet. The game begins when the jobanowl shouts, "Here y'go t'gither!"

The non-flonking team joins hands and dances in a circle around a member of the flonking team, a practice known as "girting". The flonker dips his dwile-tipped "driveller" (a pole 2–3 ft long and made from hazel or yew) into a bucket of beer, then spins around in the opposite direction to the girters and flonks his dwile at them.

If the dwile misses completely it is known as a "swadge". When this happens, the flonker must drink the contents of an ale-filled "gazunder" (chamber pot ("goes-under" the bed)) before the wet dwile has passed from hand to hand along the line of now non-girting girters chanting the ceremonial mantra of "pot pot pot".

A full game comprises two "snurds", each snurd being one team taking a turn at girting. The jobanowl adds interest and difficulty to the game by randomly switching the direction of rotation and will levy drinking penalties on any player found not taking the game seriously enough.

Points are awarded as follows:

  • +3: a "wanton" - a direct hit on a girter's head
  • +2: a "morther" - a body hit
  • +1: a "ripper" - a leg hit
  • -1 per sober person at the end of the game

At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins, and will be awarded a ceremonial pewter gazunder.


  1. ^ Dwile Flonking: council bans traditional pub sport under health and safety
  2. ^ Edward Brooke-Hitching. Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling, and Other Forgotten Sports, p.12. Simon and Schuster, 2015. ISBN 978-1-4711-4899-6
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports by Tony Collins, John Martin, Wray Vamplew, page 105
  4. ^ Brooke-Hitching, Edward (25 October 2015). "Fox tossing and other forgotten blood sports". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  5. ^ "dwile", Oxford English Dictionary (online ed.), Oxford University Press, 2012, retrieved 14 August 2009 (subscription required)
  6. ^ The BBC provides photos of seasoned flonkers here [1] and here [2].
  7. ^ a b "Suffolk Going Out - Pubs - The art of Dwile Flonking". BBC. 11 September 2003. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  8. ^ "Game: Dwyle Flunking (Detail from Brueghel's Painting)". Elliott Avedon Museum and Archive of Games. Archived from the original on 14 June 2004. Retrieved 26 September 2005.
  9. ^ The Lewes Arms Archived 3 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine

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