Oh when the Blues come marching in!

24th January 2021
BY Rtvik Patel, Aulae Prae

I’m no Winkies player. In fact, I think I am about as bad as it gets. My first year here - the year I learned the game - feels like an age ago; a blurry memory of fumbled catches and feeble excuses for kicks. After a year of half-hearted (and notably, muddy) Winkies, I decided that my talents lay at the side-lines, directing my energies into delivering perfectly timed high-pitched squeals as part of College’s team of voracious supporters.

Unexpectedly, Winkies has been an integral part of my College experience. The game still remains somewhat of a mystery to me: glorified ping-pong in my eyes. I am reliably informed by the College captain that “there’s a little more to it than that”. But Winkies encapsulates a lot more than just a sport. There is a whole culture that goes hand-in-hand with it, and despite the protestations of OTH and Commoners, that culture is no stronger than in College.

Winkies term begins with Epideixes, a College tradition that is about as hard to explain as it is to pronounce. All 70 Collegemen gather in VIIth Chamber, and one-by-one the Junmen take it in turns to yell “College” at the top of their lungs. Then, by an absolutely watertight voting system of name shouting, a College mascot is elected. Then the silliness begins. The College X enters one by one, each attempting to outperform the other with as ridiculous an entrance as possible. All in all, it’s a night of non-stop laughter and a memorable one too. Then, the big event: Xs. It’s “the Blues” versus the rest. With College choosing its team from a pool of boys that is almost five times smaller that the others, it seems almost laughable for College to even put up a fight. Yet, despite all the odds stacked against it, College always manages to pull through and offer a competitive game, and sometimes a victory in the process. As a spectator, this never fails to amaze me, and often surprises the players themselves. Winkies is an inherited game, passed down from roll to roll. It’s very special to see my friends, who only a few years ago were Junmen struggling to keep up with the myriad rules, dominating the pitch, playing with the same calibre as the top years who inspired them four years ago.

All this hard work from the team doesn’t go unrewarded. The season winds down with Xs dinner. Through an outrageous act of nepotism by the team captain, I had managed to secure myself a spot at this prestigious dinner as “entertainer”, and hoped to serenade the team with their favourite anthems. Alas, with lockdown, all my diligent networking was futile.

As we collectively endure time away from school in national lockdown, Winkies is just one of the reasons I will be desperately missing College this term. See you on the field, boys!

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