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Scarva set for annual sham fight

It's a two-horse event in the idyllic village of Scarva, Co Down, tomorrow - and all bets are off as King William takes on King James in the annual Sham Fight.

Around 100,000 punters - including several overseas visitors - will cram into the hamlet and its celebrated demense as the two protagonist and their 'armies' re-enact the Battle of the Boyne.

And even should William (aka John Adair) be thrown from his trusty white steed, there is still no chance of James (Colin Cairns) upsetting the odds in an equine contest where no odds are offered.

The foreign intervention will be greater than ever this year. With the Sham Fight promoted by the Black Institution, it coincides with the organisation’s Imperial Grand Council triennial conference in Belfast and many of the delegates will be heading for Scarva to witness what is one of the biggest events in the Northern Ireland calendar.

It is anticipated that delegates from the United Kingdom, the Irish Republic, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Togo and Ghana will attend.

They will be given pride of place at the head of the parade as it leaves the assembly field on the Gilford Road at 11.15am. Some 80 Preceptories of the Royal Black Institution will take part in the parade, joined by a wide range of bands.

Tens of thousands of people will line the one-mile route to the demesne which is at the Loughbrickland end of the village, withTamlaghtmore Silver Band from Cookstown leading the parade.

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Earlier in the day members of Scarva Royal Black Preceptory will lay a wreath at the village memorial to local members of the security forces murdered in the Troubles.

The highlight of the day will be that William-James duel where there can only be one winner. The clash will take place in the shadow of a tree, where King William tied his horse during a stopover on the way to the Battle of the Boyne.

A religious service will be held at 2pm with Armagh County Grand Master William Scott in the chair. Rev. John Batchelor, County Grand Chaplain, Armagh, will conduct the service, assisted by Rev. Nigel Reid, County Grand Chaplain Tyrone.

The speakers to the three resolutions will be Millar Farr, Sovereign Grand Master, Thomas Gunnis, Provincial Grand Master of Canada and Herbert Mailey, Grand Master of New South Wales.


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