SADDLEWORTH MORRIS Men livened up the villages as they danced out for the first time in 2016 over the Easter Weekend.
Following tradition, their first public performance of the year saw them gather at the King William IV in Greenfield following the historic Road End Fair on Maundy Thursday.
Despite the pouring rain, it was an extra special event for one member of the side as David Biggs officially become Squire of the team.
David, 44, affectionately known as ‘Biggsy’, joined the side in 1981 and became Foreman in 1996 before handing over responsibility to Paul Hankinson on Maundy Thursday 2015.
Biggsy took over the role of Squire from Eddie Worrall who is set to become Squire of the Morris Ring, the national association of men’s Morris and Sword Dance clubs, later this year.
He said: “Becoming Squire is a dream come true, although when I started out I had no idea it would lead to this.
“Saddleworth Morris Men have achieved almost legendary status in the morris dancing community.
“We are now held in high regard by the good people of Saddleworth and those from further afield. This is very much appreciated.
“Many of the local businesses and pubs are all willing to look after us also. Saddleworth Morris Men is a team effort but I consider it a privilege and an honour to be their Squire.
“Saddleworth Morris Men will be around for a long, long time to come and if I can be a small part of the future success of the team then I will be very proud indeed.”
Eddie added: “I started dancing in my home town of Doncaster in 1996 and joined the Saddleworth side when I moved here in 2000.
“After a period concentrating on Saddleworth Morris Men activities, I was elected Squire of the Morris Ring, taking over this September.
“I’m the second person from the side, following Richard Hankinson (1994-1996) – a real honour for the team. I’m looking forward to representing Saddleworth and our traditions on the national stage.”
Then the public watched new recruit David Harrison take part in the traditional ‘Greenfield dance’ to try to officially earn his place in the side.
After getting the steps right, he was presented with the instantly recognisable red, white and blue waistcoat, which is worn with pride by each member of the side.
David said: “I’m married to Karen who is Richard Hankinson’s daughter, former Squire of the side and Morris Ring, so I’ve been exposed to the Morris culture for a number of years.
“Seeing what being a Saddleworth Morris Man is all about, I couldn’t help but take the first step and get a waistcoat of my own. It feels fantastic to be part of such a great team and I will wear the waistcoat with pride.”
Then on Good Friday, March 25, the team were joined by the talented Earlsdon Morris Men from Coventry, who are considered to be one of the best in the world, for a tour of the villages.
They started off by dancing in front of The Clarence in Greenfield before performing in Delph, Dobcross, Diggle and Uppermill.
The side now look forward to dancing in York, Moulton and Warwick as well as closer to home at Saddleworth Folk festival, Holmfirth Folk Festival and Middleton, all before the Rushcart on August 20 and 21.
For anyone interested in joining the Saddleworth Morris Men, practise takes place at the Church Inn, Uppermill, from 8pm every Thursday. Find out more online: www.saddleworthmorrismen.co.uk