FISHMONGER Simon Bennett gave the first cuddle to the star of the show as a town prepares for the return of its old sport of conger cuddling.
The bizarre contest in Lyme Regis is making its comeback tomorrow as the Lyme Lympics team overturns a seven-year ‘ban’.
Simon, owner of The Old Watch House in Cobb Square, has had the five-foot eel curled up in his freezer in readiness for the conger comeback at The Cobb Arms.
The return will mark the fourth decade of fun for one of Lyme’s traditionally biggest crowd-pullers.
The game – in which the dead fish is swung on a rope to knock off contestants standing on plinths and flowerpots – was created in 1974 by Richard Fox, then landlord of The Cobb Arms, as a fundraiser for lifeboat week.
A spokesman said: “Conger cuddling is the only game known to be traditionally exclusive to Lyme Regis.
“It ran at the Cobb Arms with great success in the 70s, 80s and 90s – reportedly attracting crowds of up to 3,000 – until 2006 when the RNLI HQ had a ‘disrespecting fish’ complaint. The eel was dropped and replaced by a politically correct but unexciting plastic mooring buoy,  which immediately killed all interest in the game.
“Now the game is being revived – tactfully outside of Lifeboat Week – by the Lyme Lympics in association with The Cobb Arms and The Old Watch House.”
The event will come at the end of the oddball Lyme Lympics games, which start on the beach at 5pm.
The Lympics are expected to be filmed for comedian Rory McGrath’s C5 TV series Champions of The World.
Mr McGrath has asked to take part in the conger cuddling. Conger Cuddling is played by three teams of nine players each.
The nine ‘human skittles’ attempt to stay standing on a flowerpot or plinth as opponents swing a conger on a rope to knock them off.
The team with the last man standing wins.
Organisers are asking those who want to enter any of the games – at their own risk – to put their names down now, as the number of contestants for some games is restricted.
The Lympics organisers are also asking for extra volunteers to be stewards on the day.
Call 01297 442539 or to help out.


ALL of the games are free and entrants can sign up by texting 07842 711 376 or mailing <&bh""><&eh>
They include:
n Children’s tug of war for youngsters up to the age of 11.
n Children’s spade and ball race for youngsters up to the age of six.
n Waiters’ race with plastic cups of water from the sea.
n Motorised fossil race – mobility scooters race.
n Eight-legged race with teams of four attached to two skis.
n Tossing the caber.
n Mermaid racing with entrants wearing seaweed wigs and hopping in large sacks.
n Partner jousting with one partner blindfolded and the other on their shoulders trying to hook quoits.
n Sea steeplechase from Cobb Gate to the Standard.
n Nettle eating sprint in three minutes.
n Conger cuddling.