The Magdalen Pooh Stick Society met this Saturday for their first official match of Hilary 2014.
The sport, which requires a river and a bridge, and whose first literary mention was in the Winnie-the-Pooh children’s book series by A. A. Milne, was brought to Oxford last summer when two Magdalen students – Tom Lear and Ben Kybett – established the society.
Since then it has grown in popularity and the society now has a regular core of a dozen members, attracting an increasing number of casual players with each event. Each match is opened by a recital of the society’s Latin motto and ends with a trip to the pub for post-match analysis and drinks.
Although often accredited to A. A. Milne, the society’s President Ben Kybett claims the origins of the sport predate the children’s books and actually lie in Oxford.
“There are records suggesting the founding of the Society occurred on one May Morning in 1806 when the Honourable Pooh Chomondley-Bibblington was out for a walk with his faithful friend Mr Edward Yore whereupon Mr Yore most unfortunately fell into the river Cherwell.
“Chomondley-Bibblington attempted to rescue his friend with a stick but dropped the stick into the river just as Mr Yore headed under the bridge. However, whilst his stick went under the bridge before Yore, it was his friend that came out the other side first – and so the great game of Pooh Sticks was born.”
Saturday’s winner was Magdalen student Anne Cremin, who took home the prize of a £6 bottle of wine from Olives.
The Society is also hoping to compete in the World Pooh Sticks Championships in Marchwhich have taken place in the Oxfordshire village of Little Wittenham since 1984.
The standard one-against-one match involves a game of rock-paper-scissors to decide who chooses the drop-off point on the bridge.
On the count of three players drop or throw, subject to style, their chosen sticks into the water. The water carries the sticks under the bridge and whoever’s appears first is crowned winner.