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The Feud with Bardfield- The English Civil War

Essex folk were among the most staunch supporters of Parliament in the years from 1642 to 1651 — but while both villages fought for liberty against their monarch, the old rivalries did not abate.

Recruiting sergeants came first to Bardfield, cropped the volunteers’ hair and issued the famous steel helmets of Cromwell’s army. Bright sparks among the lads of Finchingfield dubbed them 'knobheads' — a term later subject to censorship and remodelled as 'roundheads'.

Convinced they could resist the savage coiffure inflicted on their rivals, the Finchingfield men argued for a longer cut. The sergeant agreed, but secretly ordered the barber to give them all the classic mullet of the medieval peasantry.

As the Bardfield lads marched by on their first day of training, the cry of 'Knobheads' from the Finchers was answered with ribald laughter and shouts of 'Bellends!'.

The ancient feud had its advantages however. The fitness and cunning developed over the years of village contests gave the men superior military skills — they excelled in camouflage and diversionary tactics, and could be relied upon to march at dawn even after a heavy night of drinking.

The prowess of the men from both villages also ensured their repeated return each year for the Essex Regiment football cup final.

Fans amazed at the virtuosity of a 'knobheader' or a rocket-like shot from a 'bellender' would shout out their names. Over time, these contracted to the currently used 'header' and 'belter' of modern soccer terminology.

The football rivalry continues to this day as Cultists of both Finch and Bard denominations compete for the annual Humperdinkle Cup.

Finch and Bard Cultists put aside their differences to uphold the revered Cult principles of fair play and sportsmanship in this annual event.

Recent research by the Zimmerman Institute into the role of the two villages during the great upheavals of the Civil War has led to calls for Blue Plaques for both villages. Each is the inverse of the other, with the Finchingfield plaque proudly declaring:

Royalists in the area were in a minority, often among the gentry. But posh calls for blue plaques in their name have recently been abandoned. Research into the nicknames given to local supporters of the king yielded less flattering monickers from the period, such as 'dickhead' and 'weenytodger'.

Sadly, of course, freedom from the oppressive rule of Charles and his dangerous links to European

powers, led only to the stark misery of hardline puritanism and the banning of merriment — even at Christmas.

Passports were required to enter Kent, and the supplies of wine, port and herbal remedies from the continent came to a halt.

By the time of the Restoration, when pub doors were thrown wide to the joyous throng again, the pent-up energy of the two villages led to a continuous three-month session of debauchery and music.

It was the dawn of the Cult, and many of its rituals date from this period of happy inebriation and final release from the tribulations of war.

Needless to say, the knobheads had to copy us, forming their effete knock-off, the Cult of Bard -- with painters, bookshops and suchlike.

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