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Ratting to return to Manchester pubs

Rick Lane investigates the call for controlled rat-killing to be re-introduced as a pub game

Published on April 14th 2008.

Ratting to return to Manchester pubs

Ever since the smoking ban, sales in some pubs have been on the slide. The recent budget in March also placed pressures on the classic British institution with a rise in duties on alcohol.

At the same time there has been a significant rise in the rat population in the city and the country: a combination of warmer winters and an increase in carelessly discarded refuse.

Today members of the Regional Association of Traditional Sports proposed that ratting should be re-introduced into certain pubs, starting in Manchester. This would help tackle problems of declining customers and increasing vermin.

Ratting is the activity where a large number of live rats are collected in a sack and then thrown into a specially prepared space in a public house, usually a backyard. A terrier is then released and is given a certain amount of time in which to kill the rats. Pub customers bet on how many of the rats the dog might kill within the set time limit. The sport was very popular in the nineteenth century when ‘a pint, a pie, darts and rats’ was a well-known expression of ‘a cracking night out’.

A spokesman for the Regional Association of Traditional Sports said, “it combines entertainment and social utility. Why not have a bit of fun as we help clear these vermin from our streets? As the Grand National shows we all like a flutter, why not combine the excitement we experience then, with an activity which helps the community and helps our traditional pubs survive? And what more appropriate time than the Chinese Year of the Rat.”As for cruelity to animals, Dr Piers Mustelid, told us that, “having their necks broken by a terrier is a much quicker death for rats, the dirty little bastards, than choking on rat poison.”

Manchester has been chosen as a trial location because “it already has a special breed of ratter named after it, the Manchester Terrier, now a dog often shown at Crufts but one which would prefer the ratting yard to the catwalk.”

Several pubs have already expressed an interest in the trial notably The Bulls Head on Chester Road and the Swan with Two Necks on Withy Grove.

If the experiment is a success then it may be extended across the country. Some pubs are apparently interested in adapting the theme by having contests between animals featured on their signboards.

Landlord of the Rat and Parrot in Barnsley said, “wouldn’t it be interesting if we had a fight between say a Macaw and a rat?” The Landlady of the Hare and Hounds on Shudehill was less enthusiastic, “I’m not sure we could fit that many animals in the pub, it’s a bit small.”

It’s thought unlikely that pubs with names such as the Bird in the Bush and the Fighting Cocks would be allowed to take part.

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21 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

BloodlustApril 14th 2008.

Dear last posting person with the long name, the ratting allocation has now filled up. Have you thought about bull-baiting? Can you fit a bull in your pub?

Rolando El LoboApril 14th 2008.

No. Las Ratas necessitan morir y la conquista de los lobos empiezan.

moleApril 14th 2008.

this is brilliant...all the rat's have got together....apart from one who is in spain!!

CBApril 14th 2008.

A fine idea. Mine's a pint of Bubonic Bitter please. Can we have not have some bare knuckle fights as well?

KellyApril 14th 2008.

As I said, I do hope this is meant to be a joke, because I completely agree with Sarah. And James, yes, I also value the lives of small animals over those who would kill them for 'entertainment'. Rats are excellent pets and I can't understand why a dog or person's enjoyment has more value than a rat's life. John S Locke - do you remember when The Northern was The King? It was a ratting pit right up until the building was renovated...only the rats were vaguely human-shaped and unfortunately were not despatched by terriers.

rattyApril 14th 2008.

mole you lie...how would you feel if somebody from manchester council went round stomping on mole hills in their size 12 dr martins!? Dr Piers Mustelid is a sick b*stard himself. i'm gonna get the rat hoards round his house, chasing his wife round the kitchen... Libertad e Igualdad para la rata!!

moleApril 14th 2008.

ratty ratty ratty ratty....dont be so ratty

moleApril 14th 2008.

ratty....why are you lying?? you said you would be on it like a car bonnet...

John S. LockeApril 14th 2008.

In fact we have what was the 'ratting yard' as our smoking pit at The Northern!...Could double up again!...One sack of Rats and a tasty Manchester Terrier = Saturday afternoon special entertainment!..Who cares if the season is finished soon!Sign us up Schofers!

Rattus RattusApril 14th 2008.

mmmmm suppose they could get away with it as a "low stakes betting" game. Not sure how easy it is to catch live rats, crafty b**ggers those Manc ones. They are a particularly horrible creature just take a look at this site about WWI ones http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWrats.htm

LeonardoApril 14th 2008.

Master Splinter will not be impressed.

JamesApril 14th 2008.

Sarah, oh dear. So you value the lives of animals more than humans?

rattyApril 14th 2008.

mole, i would ceratinly not love it, this sounds like the first steps towards genocide... viva le rat!!

AnonymousApril 14th 2008.

Yeah lets get it ratified Stevo

SarahApril 14th 2008.

Absolutely disgusting! Why not throw the animal abusers in a sack and then let them be ripped apart by dogs.

KellyApril 14th 2008.

I seriously hope this is a late April Fool's joke by the Regional Association Traditional Sports ('RATS' - I get it). I don't think that RATS would support the wanton and cruel destruction of their own kind.

Interested pRATyApril 14th 2008.

As Licensee of the (very upmarket) Oldham St hostelry The RAT & HANDBAG - not licensed for brawls - I would be most interested in taking part in these trials. Do I need my own dog?

FranApril 14th 2008.

Sarah is quite right, this is cruel. Unless ofcourse we give them some tiny weapons and maybe a little pointy helmet.

moleApril 14th 2008.

my friend is a rat...he would love that!!!

Rattus Maximus genetica modificumApril 14th 2008.

Bring on these so called "terriers" - they're so out of shape now strutting their stuff on catwalks that they couldn't even take one of us let alone a gang of us!

SollersApril 14th 2008.

*quickly checks date*I don't know about the sporting aspect (though my thoughts were about "Three Men in a Boat" and Montmorency moonlighting) but in recent years in the New Forest there has been a sort of scratch pack, mostly of Jack Russells*, meeting once a month at various farms. The owners have a nice get-together, the dogs have a wonderful time and at least the rats die quickly.*They've been ratters as long as they've been fox terriers - this was how they earned their keep while the lad later to be the Reverend John was away at school. They've been used against coypu recently in the Norfolk Broads, with the attitude, "So what if it's as big as me with orange teeth as long as my paw? It's still just a rat"

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