The teams origins go back to a performance of the Wakefield Mystery Plays in 1979. At that time Trefor Owen a one time dancer with the Horwich Prize Medal Morris men decided to form a mens North West team for the event. The team duly started practising and for want of a better name took the title "The Horberie Shrogys". The word shrogy is from the Mystery Play text "get thee to the Horberie shrogys" being a banishment to the area of swampy land bordering the river near Horbury. Actually for much of the first 30 years debates around the fireside at festivals and other gatherings would debate just when the team sprang into existence. As with so many things no one had thought to write this down and so the issue could at times be contentious. I have searched for any reference to a performance of the Wakefield plays in 1979 with no joy so presumably the performance never happened. The closest I could get was a note about a peformance in 1988 which had a text update done by Adrian Henri of Liverpool poets fame. I am pretty sure that the team got involved in this as for some years after reports of the event at Pontefract featured a stage that started to break up when subjected to the synchronised beat of the dancers clogs. As to the first actual practice some time in the 2010-2018 time frame the date has been set as the 3rd of March 1980. As this comes from John Earnshaw one of the founding dancers we'll take that as definitive - unless anyone out there knows better.
Naturally such a fine body of men came with various female companions. Not to be left out the women started to dance as well. One mythic story has the women dancing in the yard outside the practise hall using the sound of the musicians tunes floating through the windows. But before long the women had come in from the cold and formed a team in their own right. The womens team took as their title "The Ring O'Belles". The fact that the yard running past the practise hall is the Ring O'Bells Yard, after pub that became a butchers and is now a nurserymans, is just a neat piece of history.
For some years the two teams danced as two separate entities, although a mixed set would form part of the regular display. But as time went by the numbers of men in the side reduced and the appearance of a Shrogys side became a rarity. The team's appearances now featured a mixed side more and more, with the occasional display dance by the "Ring O'Belles". The mixed side had taken on the rather prosaic title of "Wakefield Morris Dancers" and this is the name that has stayed.
The team has now been together for over thirty years and still includes some who have danced through the majority of the teams history. Highlights in the history have been tours to France and Germany, regular appearances at folk festivals throughout Britain such as Whitby, Sidmouth, Warwick, Holmfirth and Cleethorpes. Also festivals at Eastbourne, Redcar, Saltburn, Chippenham, Towersy, Ilkley and Felixstowe. Then there are the dancers festivals, Rochester Sweeps, Scarborough Fayre and the Kirtlington Lamb Ale and one-offs such as the Youth Skills Olympics. This together with local events and visits to other teams keep the side both active and visible to the public..A couple of pictures from Glynn who danced with the team in the early days came in over the e-mail and are here for you to share. First there seems to be an early attempt to set the high kicking standard we still try to maintain Then there's this shot of a dance out at a mystery venue but with suitable Yorkshire weather. I'm guessing the central figure is Glynn himself and the lass at the right looks like Kryshia Winska. But who are the others? Anyone out there got any ideas?
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