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Monday 29 August 2022

As a sport it stinks

Proletariat yellow ducks doing nothing

The barely perceptible class war of the duck race

First prize at Hereford Rotary Club’s Duck Race on Sunday was £1000. Professional Bleeder and I went down to the Hungerford Bridge across the Wye to watch the action.

I say “action” advisedly. Ducks, when racing, make snails look like Formula 1. Of course these weren’t real ducks. They were plastic and not entirely convincing. True they had heads, necks and bodies but they lay in the water on their sides, seemingly dead to the world. 

Also they appeared to represent Britain’s class system. A smallish group, coloured dark green, went into the water first. Later some 5000 yellow ducks were added. We learned the greens were sponsored by businesses at £50 a pop, the yellows (£2 each) were the common herd – you and me. If anything, the yellows were deader than the greens.

Races require movement and it seemed this race would fail at the outset. Nothing was happening. Fortunately the gentlest of zephyrs stirred the competitors into some sort of competition – average speed 0.002 mph. A judge-cum-duck-handler waited patiently at the floating finishing line.

After an interminable wait a green duck crept to within two metres of the line. But then the uniqueness of the duck race became apparent. Another gentle zephyr but from another direction! And the ducks all went into reverse.

Could this race last for ever? Meanwhile several greens were tangling themselves among weeds draped from the river bank.

Finally, a green duck touched the line and the judge raised his hand. The wind blew stronger and a phalanx of mixed colours reached the line simultaneously causing the judge to unship a fishing net and gather them up communally.

PB had planned a corned-beef hash. At the corner shop we were horrified to find corned beef costs £4.50 a tin. The hell with ducks.


  1. I was so hoping a yellow duck would win.

  2. Colette: So was I. Trouble was the yellows behaved like a herd and you know where sheep end up

  3. The excitement must have been almost unbearable....

    1. Avus: A good deal of misinformation from the organisers about when and where added to the tension. Needless to say, this will have been my first and last duck race.