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Reinhard ADD: Jon Raven's 'Wedgefield Wakes' lyrics (9) RE: ADD: Jon Raven's 'Wedgefield Wakes' lyrics 21 Apr 21

With a bit more searching in my folders I finally found Jon Raven's "Songs of a Changing World" songbook. It has this explanation and verses including the chorus:


The popularity of sports such as cock-fighting, dog-fighting, bull-baiting, and boxing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is mirrored in the many songs written about them. Although many of these sports existed prior to the Industrial Revolution, it was the heavy concentration of people in the industrial centres that speeded the development of spectator sports.

Cock-fighting was probably introduced into Britain by the Romans, and remained an acceptable and popular sport until the nineteenth century. Opposition to it began to grow in the late eighteenth century, but it was not until the Cruelty to Animals Act was passed in 1849 that it was finally banned. Cock-fighting continued on a fairly wide scale after this date, but the prospect of heavy fines and imprisonment soon deterred all bu the most hardened ‘cockers’.

Cock-fighting was a sport of kings and commoners alike. In nineteenth century England many men kept cocks, and cock-pits were often found in the backyards of public houses. The fighting cocks were bred from an Asian strain noted for its pugnacity. They were fed on a special diet, groomed and trained in sparring.

For a fight or a main--a series of fights--the birds’ natural spurs were fitted with steel spurs, with which they struck at their opponents. The birds were placed in a pit about four metres square, surrounded by a low wall. A fight often finished with the birds severely injured or dead within ten minutes. In this song the main is interrupted by the owner of the bird from Wednesfield (known locally as Wedgefield), who declares that his bird ‘will not be beat’. The main ends in a brawl between the two sets of villagers. Wednesfield and Willenhall are now parts of Wolverhampton.

At Wedgefield at one village wake,
The cockers all did meet,
At Billy Lane’s the cockfighter’s,
To have a special treat.

Ri-too-le-roo la-roo-la-roo ri-too-la-roo-la-ray
With a clicking and a clacking and a clucking all day
Ho Ho a clip winged red and a spangled grey.

For Charley Marson’s spangled cock,
Was matched to fight a red,
That came from Wil’n’all o’er the field,
And belonged to Cheeky Ned.

No finer birds in any pit,
There never yet were seen
Though the Wedgefield men declared,
Their cock was sure to win.

The cocks fought well and feathers fled,
All around about the pit,
While blood from both of them did flow,
Yet neither would submit.

At last the spangled Wedgefield bird,
Began to show defeat,
So Billy Lane he up and swore,
His cock should not be beat.

For he would fight the biggest man
That came from Willenhall town,
Then on the word old Cheeky Ned,
Got up and knocked him down.

At this the Wedgefield men began
Their comrade’s part to take
And never was a fiercer fight
Fought at a village wake.

They beat the men from Willenhall
Back to their town again,
And long will they remember,
This Wedgefield Wake and Main.

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