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The Tadpole Wrenching Phenomenon

20 Sep

About 5 years ago, a late night drunken post on a popular football forum started a new craze. The poster was I, and the subject of the post merely read ‘Tadpole Wrenching World Championships’. Quite why I decided to start such a thread is still unknown to me, but I never expected Tadpole Wrenching to grab the attention of many internet users in the way it did. Anyone who opened the first ever Tadpole Wrenching post would have been greeted with the following text:

Yes, it is that time of year again when the fiercely competitive Tadpole Wrenching Championships start all over again, this year in the inbred town of Mablethorpe. An estimated 25,000 spectators will flock to the quaint sea-side town, where most the shop windows are bi-focal and sea-gulls come as standard, to see 64 contestants aim to become World Champion.
Last year saw 15/1 outsider Bert Tee win, wrenching 6 more tadpoles than his nearest rival, the Spaniard Jose-Jose Tomton Jose, and with 4 gullets left to spare. He goes into this competition as hot favourite, having won the European Championships in Marbella last September.
Winning will not be easy though. 7 wildcards have been chosen for this year’s event, including the first all-woman competitor, Mary Mann. She sneaked through despite only averaging a wrenching total of 4 for the season, as well as a gullet rating of 4.7. She hopes to put in a good performance for the TV cameras at Mablethorpe come Sunday.

“Obviously it was a huge shock to be chosen. My seasonal averages have been far from impressive and my twine-slinger was letting me down. I have been practising for up to 6 hours a day, I feel privileged to be the first all-woman participant”.
The African champion, a Moroccan dwarf named Dave is also expected to feature in the final rounds, as is Mr. Grey, this year’s oldest contestant at a ripe age of 102.
Expect it to be an event of highs and lows, and get your tickets booked and head to Mablethorpe, it’s going to go down in history as one of the greats, I can assure you.

Taken from the Official Tadpole Wrenching Championship site……

The draw has been made for the first round at Mablethorpe this year . 64 competitors will battle it out, the best of 3 sets progressing to the next round. The seeded competitors are all drawn out of pot A (left hand side) and other entrants from pot B.

The draw is as follows

ROUND 1;
Bert Tee v Dave McFarlane
Jose Jose Tomtom Jose v Bill Mates
Lydia Fursappel v Martin Bell
Dave ‘the dwarf’ v Mary Mann[wc]
Mr.Grey v Lombardo Robeiro
Curly Loughlin v Paddy Fence
Julian ‘the minature’ Evans v Lucy Ingram
Mike Spilligan v Zebedy Doodar
Junior Laywood v Harry Henly[wc]
Ruttle O’Toole jnr v Serena Clark
Sandy Stilton v Clark Cooper
Marco Dingalong v David Llewelyn[wc]
Remington Chizwissle v Pete Bingo
Xao Hioc Cock v Bruno Le pippin
Biily deBum v Horace Nelson
Dexter Mendes v Leitish sha
Fred Fridge v Lard Crumpet
Mike Screw v Dean Giles[wc]
James Jameson v Shirley Kingham
Mo Marsh v Damien Brown[wc]
Rory Nish v Damon Sullivan
Lucy Smith v Dwane Carr
Costa de la Apple v Mrs.Goggins
Ash Avery v Tom Roper[wc]
Paul Eacott v Mark Williams
Melon McCoorkel v Lame Regis
Farrison Hord v Trumpet Man[wc]
Gill Fisher v Keith Robbins
Phil Russle v Santiago Lopez
Giles Farmer v C.N JackMan
Mo Kaine v Paddy Tremble
Leroy Lazenby v Katherine Hate

This was followed up by a quick glossary of terms, for authenticity:

For those of you unfamiliar with the sport here’s a glossary of the terms and sayings used:

Taken from Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopaedia – Tadpole Wrenching, the terms and sayings, a brief glossary

Backhand Hook: A technique used by some competitors in hope of achieving a last gasp wrench. This term is used when a competitor first misses a tadpole, but recovers on the backstroke to capture the target
Bamboo Shooter: A device used by competitors, similar to a pea-shooter. The shooter is a hollow device used to shoot small pebbles to stun the target and can only be used twice in one match.
Girdle: Similar to a twine-sling, but more in the shape of tongs. The competitor must use the scoop on the end to aid capture of the target, using one-hand on the device only
Girth Reacher: A long thin device that a competitor can use to prod rocks and coves in the underwater cabins in hope of finding more targets
Gullet Rating: An average from either the season or a single match, based upon tadpoles wrenched, and gullet methods left over from catching them
Pickle Wedge: This is used in turn with the bamboo shooter.A small capsule used to aid the capture of the targets. Together they must not exceed the weight stated in the competition rules. Competitors can only use thumb and a finger when using the pickle wedge.
Tad-Wrench: The main method used for catching the target. Using a twine slinger (see below) the competitor achieves a tad-wrench when a tadpole is caught. A one-off tad-wrench, merely describes a game of three sets.
Triple-Snatch: This is achieved when a competitor achieves capture of tadpoles in three successive turns, one of which must be an underwater capture
Twine-Sling: A device made from two bamboo cane ‘runners’ which act as a sort of chop-stick, held together with twine. The most common method of using this is to hold between thumb and forefinger. It’s the oldest and easiest method in the history of Tadpole Wrenching
Snatch-Off: When the winning wrench is possible and achieved, this is called the snatch-off. A snatch-up described failure to produce the winning move when the chance is there. Many competitors have their own signature snatch-off.
Wrenching: The term used to describe the way in which the tadpole is plucked from the water, a number of methods can be used to do this.

Once the potential audience was captured and showed a vague interest, I began to post updates, as well as other snippets of information. I posted the results of each round, and tried to pull in more potential wrenching fans. (various excerpts below):

The results are in for Round 2 after some cracking matches last night

Highest Gullet Rating – Lame Regis 10.2
Most Exciting Snatch – Junior Laywood with a fantastic double scoop twine sling to complete a triple snatch, snatch-off. Unbelievable.
Triple Snatches – Mr.Grey, Bert Tee, Mo Kaine, Junior Laywood
Game of the Day- Mike Spilligan v Clark Cooper (review later)
Player of the Day – Mr.Grey

Game of the Day– Taken from the BBC sports desk.
Round 2 – Mike Spilligan 2v0 Clark Cooper
This game won’t be remembered for terrific comebacks, or a closely contested battle. This will be remembered for the sheer brilliance that Spilligan showed to win both sets by 3 legs to 0. Cooper had no chance, and no-one could fault the rookie because when Spilligan is in this form, there is no stopping him. His signature snatch-off left the crowd open mouthed, a quick snap-back on the bamboo cane wrenched 3 tadpoles alone and rounded off a flawless display. His average gullet rating for the whole match was 9, a very impressive score, and you felt that if this had have been a 5 set game, Spilligan would have broken the seasons’  best. Cooper was in awe of his opponent. “Wow, what a player. I think I’ve been beaten by a definite contender for the title. Some of the twine slinging used today was awesome. I’m disheartened, but I had little chance today. I’ll go home and think things through, and then get practising for Malmo next month.”

Game of the day – Taken from the BBC sports desk

Round 3 – Bert Tee 2v1 Ruttles O’Toole jnr

Reigning champion Bert Tee had to recover from 1 set down and an average gullet rating of 4.2 to win this match against a spirited O’Toole. The game looked out of his reach as he lost the first set by 2 legs to 1, and his wrenching was seriously off target; he captured three tadpoles in this set alone. However, experience shone through and Tee recovered to show the form that made him World Champion. The second set was won 3-0, and the gullet rating for this set was an impressive 8.6. O’Toole was clearly struggling at witnessing his opponents fightback and was poor in the deciding set. Tee achieved a triple snatch to win the game, his underwater wrench was truly impressive. He will need to be more consistent if he is to repeat last year’s result, but Tee showed glimpses of what he is capable of.

These posts paved way for other forum members to get involved and provide information about various Tadpole Wrenching competitors. It snowballed into something unexpected, with new posts appearing each day about the fictional characters involved in the fictional sport. Some of the posts (now long gone unfortunately) were a great read. A day before the ‘final’; this shocking news broke:

French Tadpole Wrenching Champion Bruno Le Pippin was found dead in a swamp in Rossendale by a man out walking his cat early this morning. Police have confirmed that they are not treating his death as suspicious and pending a post mortem, they can confirm that he drowned. The only other details they would disclose was that he had daubed the words ‘Je vous déteste crapaud’ across his torso, in a foreign language, with raspberry jam. (Thought to be a reference to the sport that he loved)
Le Pippin has been dogged for several years by a minority of supposed Wrench fans who have tried to drive him out of the sport, stating that he has a ‘stupid name’. He has also triumphed over adversity in the sport by having to cope with disability of being French.
Le Pippin, 55, was one of the leading lights on the French Snail Flogging circuit for 20 years before turning his hand to Tadpole Wrenching in 1994, gaining instant success as runner up in the 1995 Barnstaple Invitational.
But he will be remembered for his now infamous run in with a group of spectators at the Corby River Challenge in 1999, when after being tormented by a group of onlookers all week, he snapped and waded into them swinging a thermos flask.
He was the reigning French Champion, having won by default as the only other French competitor died a week before the competition of leptospirosis.

Then, it was time for the final itself:

WORLD TADPOLE WRENCHING CHAMPIONSHIP- THE FINAL

Mo Kaine 5 v 7 Lame Regis

Lame Regis is the new champion after a fantastic display of tadpole wrenching against the rookie Mo Kaine, who put up a spirited battle. Regis showed fantastic use of all his utensils, utilising his girth reacher and pickle wedge throughout the game. He was 4-0 up and cruising before the midway wrench break, after which Kaine fought back bravely. He produced a fabulous back hand scoop in the 7th set to pull it back to 4-3, and at the time looked as if he could cause an upset. Regis recovered though to go 6-3 up and despite losing the following two sets, managed to wrench 12 tadpoles in the final set to take the title.
Regis’ signature snatch-off was used as he wrapped up his first major title and he was obviously delighted at winning. Kaine can take heart from his performance, and Regis also described him as ‘a future world champion’.

Gullet Ratings for the match…….Kaine-9.2 Regis 11.4
Total Tadpoles Wrenched…….Kaine 46 Regis 57
Wrench of the Day……..Regis’ backhand scoop. Great technique.

Quotes of the Day:

“What a way to win and wrap up the wrenching world championships. Wonderful” – Davy O’Graham, radio Lincoln commentator

“I’m delighted, so delighted. Imagine a dog wagging it’s tail after taking speed. That’s how delighted I am” – Lame Regis after winning

“Sicko’s, the whole lot of them” – Animal rights activists outside the venue

“The better man won, but I’ll come back a better wrencher” – Mo Kaine

“The backhand scoop was a thing of sheer beauty- Random spectator

“Oi, Regis, you suck” – An angry spectating Remington Chizwissle, just before Regis completed a triple-snatch.

“My money is on Mo Kaine” – Kevin Keegan when he was trailing 4-0 at the interval.

“I thought this was Amarillo” – Another random spectator

“He’s turned the tadpole wrenching world upside down, via a twirly wirly whirlwind of brilliance” – Again, commentator Davy O’Graham.

Tadpole Wrenching was on the map, and a healthy number of forum posters contributed with news and views on the brilliant, yet entirely fictional, sport. Excerpts from famous Wrenching competitor’s autobiographies appeared, as well as information on the sport, with these being the only ones I can now find online:

There’s a preview show on tonight for anyone interested, on Bravo at 03.15 am.
It’s a look ahead to the World Championships on Sunday, with a portion of the program given over to a profile / tribute to the late, great Ruttles O’Toole.
For any of you too young to remember, O’Toole was a founding father of the sport (Along with other ‘Hall Of Famers’, ‘Castaway’ Phil Pollard, Syd ‘The Dredger’ Dennis, Ptarmigan ‘Paddy’ Flanagan and the first one-legged wrencher Keith Smith), and was the brains behind most of the innovations we see in use today. He was World Champion 11 times spanning 3 decades and won numerous other titles, some too obscure to record.
His battles against some of the other greats in the 70’s are amongst some of the pinnacles of sporting achievement of the decade. In particular, his marathon 9 set match against ‘The Dredger’ on October 4th 1976 at Loch Lach, ranks as probably the best match ever witnessed.
His son, Ruttles O’Toole Junior is a fine wrencher in his own right and is hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps at this Sunday’s final.
(Little known fact: Ruttles O’Toole Junior’s life coach and mentor is 80’s antipodean pop sensation and closet homosexual Jason Donovan, who will be in attendance)

And:

Extract from Bert Tee’s auto-biography, ‘A quick moment to pond-er’

“It was at that moment that I knew i had hit rock bottom. Not only had i been knocked out of the European Championships in the first round, but my drink problem had started to seriously hinder my play. That’s how I got the scar on my left hand. Too much drink had numbed my body, so I didn’t feel it digging into my hand. I knew I had to give up the bottle. I knew I could be the best Tadpole Wrencher if i did this. I knew much more as well. It was to change my life forever.”

Tadpole Wrenching had officially caught on. Indeed, a quick search on Google now turns up results for Tadpole Wrenching – it even has its own Facebook Fan Page. Alongside this, many members of social media sites list Tadpole Wrenching in their hobbies and interests, and the main thread was even linked on other forums (one example:  http://www.taintedmedia.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=77). Tadpole wrenching had caught on (on the Internet at least). I wish the original forum, with all of its post was still there (this would be it: http://www.talklfc.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=18318 but the forum has now been removed). It had hundreds of posts on it and was a great read.

It still amazes me how a random post sparked such a craze – it just shows how things can take off online.

If anyone has heard of Tadpole Wrenching, or indeed has other examples of it from the internet, please let me know; I would love to read back through any posts or people’s comments.

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