Thorpe Thewles History Group

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The games children played in the past – What is/was “Kick-cog”?

As part of the David McLaren Diary Project being undertaken by TTHG we find continual reference to the young teenage David of Manor Farm in Thorpe Thewles playing a game (c.1911-13) that he calls “kick-cog”. What was this game and how was it played and does it still exist by a different name today?

I have done several basic literature surveys and Internet searches and have come up with nothing that really tells me what this game is/was all about. I found one “cached” internet page, now no-longer available, that refers to a game called “Tin-can Tommy”. The author of this web page states that from his research this game was variously called by other names in different parts of the UK at different periods in history. These alternative names including the following;

1) "Kick- the-can" in Scotland, Dublin, Liverpool, Manchester and Wales.
2) "I-o-Kay in Welshpool.
3) "Tick Tock Tony" in Stornoway.
4) "Tin-a-Lurkey" in Nottinghamshire.
5) "Tin Can Leaky" in Lincoln.
6) "Tin Can Lurkey" in Windermere.
7) “Tin Can Nurkey" in Barrow-in-Furness and Wolverhampton.
8) Kick Cog" in Spennymoor (1690)"

So here we find confirmation of a game called "Kick-cog" being played in Co. Durham. Peter McLaren hadn't just made-up the name of the game he played as a child in Thorpe Thewles.

What ever this game was it was obviously very popular, long lived and played throughout the country. While the above titles make common reference to “Tin Cans” the game must well pre-date the invention of the tin can in the first half of the C19th. This is attested to by the reference to it being recorded in Spennymoor, Co. Durham, as early as 1690!

Can anyone throw any light on what this game was about and how it was played and if it has a modern equivalent today?

Thanks in anticipation.

Mark Smith

Re: The games children played in the past – What is/was “Kick-cog”?

My father used to refer to playing this game around the same time when he was a boy I believe he told us they played it on he top of the village before thier was much or any traffic.

Re: The games children played in the past – What is/was “Kick-cog”?

Thanks go to Eric Smith (via Paul Dunnill) for the following description of "Kick-Cog" as it was known around the Teesside area in the 1950's.

"Kick-Cog" was a variant of "hide and seek" with the finder having to kick the first person they could find and catch. The seeker's prey were the cogs. Once the seeker had successfully kicked one of the hiders (cogs) it was their turn to hide and the cog that had been kicked became the seeker. Rule was that the previous seeker was exempt from being kicked by the cog that they had just kicked.

Thanks for this explanation.

TTHG Webmaster

Re: The games children played in the past – What is/was “Kick-cog”?

It seems that there were a number of variants to the game "King-cog", the one that I played in Stockton in the 1950s was slightly less physical than the one described above. It went as follows-

First you all agreed what was to be the catcher's base, this was usually a lamp-post if you were playing in the evening.
Then the game of hide and seek began. As people were found they had to go and stand by the catcher's base.
But if one of those hiding could sneak past the catcher, they could run to the base, kick-it whilst shouting "Kick-cog", then those that had previously been caught all ran off free and were allowed to hide again.

There was a variety of ways in which the children decided who was to be "it" i.e. the catcher, but they would take too long to tell here :-)