Barton-in-the-Beans is a village in the county of Leicestershire in the heart of England. In the Middle Ages it was believed that there were more cats in the village than in any other village or town in the country. This could only mean one thing in those times: witches. Lots of them.
There was no lake near the village. The local chalk soil drained easily so even after heavy rain no large puddles formed. Thus deprived of his best known method of determining who was a witch, the local Witchfinder-General Roger Boydell hit upon a novel method for searching out the local witches.
He determined that witches are very attached to their cats; at the equinoxes and the solstices he told his henchmen to round up all the village cats and place them into a large pen. At his signal, a man would allow three of the creatures to escape from the pen. These cats would be chased by the Witchfinder-General’s fitter cronies around the village. If any woman chased after the man chasing her cat, especially on a broomstick, she was determined to be a witch and sent off to Leicester for burning on the High Cross.
This tradition lasted for 400 years, comfortably outlasting the role of Witchfinder-General by over 300 years. In the mid-20th Century, as people became aware of diets and exercise, it was noticed that the cats of Barton-in-the-Beans were the leanest, fittest, and most athletic cats in the whole county.
The game of Dockey is a combination of the sports of Darts and Hockey. The origins of the game are obscured in a midwinter’s drinking session in a pub by the local hockey team, who were arguing about who could throw a dart with the most accuracy over the length of a hockey pitch.
The issue was resolved the following day. The dartboard was nailed to the crossbar of one of the hockey goals and all the players stood at the opposite end of the pitch. It was found that no one could throw the dart more than halfway even with a hangover. Some spare dartboards were found and given to five players. The goalkeeper was given a dart and he threw it to the nearest player who caught it in his dartboard. He then passed to the next player up the pitch and this continued until the crossbar dartboard was in range.
Any player can throw the dart into the crossbar dartboard and wherever the dart lands counts towards the team’s score. The goalkeeper doesn’t have a dartboard but still has a hockey stick to stop the dart with. If the dart lands in the hockey stick then the goalkeeper has control of the dart and can initiate the next attack for his team. If the dart lands on the ground then anyone can pick it up and the game continues.
The following Saturday it was decided to hold the first ever dockey game, between members of the same hockey team. The contest was 6-a-side and had two halves, each of forty minutes. They found that four officials were needed; one in each goalmouth to take note of the score when the dart lands in the board and two umpires one in each half.