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History of Modern Game

The History of Modern Game Fowl

This page is a work in Progress and I will be adding to it soon


By John E Norris


  In tracing the origin and development of the Modern Game Bantam one must go back to the time when cock fighting was outlawed in England. Until 1849 when “The Cruelty to Animals Act” was passed cock fighting was a universally enjoyed sport throughout the Kingdom. Most every village and town had a cock pit where the sport was enjoyed on most Sundays throughout the season.

 At the time of legal restrictions on cock fighting raising poultry became an ever more appealing fancy for a people with more than a passing interest in the problems of propagating livestock. Whether the sudden interest which developed during the middle of the 19th century in England was coincidental with the banning of cock fighting or was a result of the cock fighters discovering a legal outlet for their love of game fowl is not known. What we do know is that many of the best exhibitors were former and superstitiously current cock fighters. What could be more natural for a former cock fighter turned exhibitor than to develop strains of exhibition type games. No longer could a cock become a champion by subduing one of his peers in combat. Therefore a criteria for comparing birds in a class and selecting the best was soon needed and so within less than twenty years after the ban a standard was developed.

 This Standard published by the Poultry Club of England in 1866 provided for Games only for there were no Old English Game or Modern Game then. It is interesting to read that even by 1866 a change in the traditional fighting fowl had already taken place, for instance “Head-long, thin and tapered, very strong at the juncture with the neck, Stern – slender and very neat, saddle feathers very short and close,, Tail – Moderate in length, not carried over the back, but extending backwards, the feathers not scattered or spread out, but held neatly together. So ran the Standard for “Games” and “Game Bantams” less than a score of years after the end of legal cock fighting. The tail feathers held neatly together could as well define our Modern Games. The breeder’s progress was marked each year by a more refined and exaggerated bird until by 1883 for the first time a class was given for the True Old English Games at Clayton Moor in Cumberland, England. In 1887 the Old English Game Club of England was founded and from that date forward two varieties were recognized. “Games”, “Modern Games” and “Exhibition Games” indiscriminately.

 From this time on the difference between the two was recognized and emphasized. Although as late as 1904 when Lewis Wright published his “The New Book of Poultry”. Modern Games were called “Games”, “Modern Games” and “Exhibition Games” indiscriminately. As noted above Modern Game Bantams were the result of evolution going hand in hand with the development of the large Modern Game. No person or group decided to create a new breed or a Modern Game Bantam. Therefore I feel disinclined to agree with W. F. Entwisle when he states, “there can be little doubt that to Mr. John Crosland of Wakefield, belongs the credit of the production of the earliest Game bantams.

 It is sufficient to say that by the year 1900 G

 Some of the Masters of the Modern Game Fowl in Australia that have passed on are

George Sheaves

Joe Pitzo

Ted Gray

Bruce Trewin

Dempsey Bailey

I am endeavouring to get articles on each of these guys and post them here as they are the history of Moderns in Australia 

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