By Mark Squibb
Tiddly may not be unique to Carbonear, but Carbonear has made the sport its own. A billboard at the town’s border proudly proclaims Carbonear to be the home of the World Cup of Tiddly, and rules dictate that competitors must choose a team name native to Carbonear.
For the uninitiated, it’s a strange affair — something to do with using a stick to hit other sticks, and somehow rocks are involved too — and, like many games, even those who play disagree on some of the rules.
“Various parts of Carbonear had different variations of the rules,” said Judy Cameron, Tiddly World Cup organizer. “So, the crowd up around Irish Town might not allow you to catch it in your jacket, whereas over on the Southside, you could use your jacket to catch the stick when they batted it out. So, when we were trying to come up with the set of rules, everybody had a different version of the game they played.” (For what it’s worth, official rules now forbid the use of jackets for catching, though gloves are allowed.)
Although Carbonear has become the home of Tiddly, where it originated is anyone’s guess.
Cameron said Tiddly was never played in neighbouring Harbour Grace, but was played in the east end of St. Johns and Springdale, amongst other locales. She’s heard of folks in far flung countries like Germany and Yemen playing a game similar to Tiddly.
She figures England or Ireland to be the likely home of the game, and the history of the game can be traced back at least a hundred years.
During play, two teams face off against one another, and one team will hit a short stick into the outfield while opponents try and catch it and throw it back. The phase of the game, either the hook off, bat off, or the Tiddly, determines how you use the long stick to hit the short stick into the field.
Cameron says Tiddly is something better experienced than explained — something you can do yourself this Sunday, July 31, at the 14th annual World Cup of Tiddly, at the Recreation Complex field.
As many as 12 teams typically compete in the tournament, making for about 60 or 70 participants in total.
“It started off with old timers who had played it in their youths,” said Cameron. “But now we’ve got teams with younger people on it.”
Several who came to take in the show, said Cameron, ended up wanting to play too.
Men and women play on their respective teams, and folks under 16 are not permitted to play in the tournament at all, as Cameron noted that throwing and catching sticks can be a little dangerous.
“But years ago, nobody over 16 would play it,” she joked. “Nobody worried about anything like that in those days.”
The winning teams receive a trophy, and – more importantly — the title of Tiddly World Champions and the bragging rights that go along with such an esteemed title.