This is the first instalment of a new feature of our website, "In the Sheds", being a look inside the inner sanctum of SUCC through the eyes of a current player, who will be randomly selected each week by The Powers that Be.
First things first. This weekend, the Students are playing the infamous internal trials, which are the most hotly-contested fixtures of the season; nothing quite like bragging rights (your author has Tom Kierath firmly in mind whilst typing this out)! Firsts and seconds will be playing on St Paul's Oval and Thirds and Fourths will be playing on St Andrew's Oval on Saturday. Both fixtures start at 9:30AM.
Now to look back in time for a moment.
The off-season has been filled with many interesting events, including intervarsity tours to the UK and Brisbane. Hopefully you have already seen some press about the on-field successes of the tours.
This article focuses on an off-field 'IV' tradition of SUCC: the toast to the Cardinals.
Now, please bear in mind that precise details of the toast must be guarded and it was thought that the origins were lost in the mists of history.
Yet your author deployed a team of highly-capable but grossly underpaid research assistants to discover what they could about the origins of this most famous toast. Much of what they discovered was conjecture, but after some careful digging, they found a reference to Cardinals in a toast made in an episode of Dad's Army, aired in 1970. But this is not the origin.
There is another claim that the toast is an army "drinking game" from the 17th century. However, the 'evidence' for that claim is an online page, which itself links to an unanswered query posted in a London magazine in 1863. Picking up on a literary reference, the question posed in the magazine was along the lines of: what does the book mean when it refers to the Duke of York and the quaint old toast 'I drink to Cardinal Puff'.
The literary reference is a book called The Post and The Paddock. This was the key clue, giving insight into where the true origin of Cardinals perhaps can be found.
The Post and the Paddock is a book about horse racing published in the mid-1850s. The particular reference is to the Duke of York around the 1820s, who had an affinity for horse racing. The full reference is:
The Duke of York was almost as much attached to Newmarket as his royal brother ... The quaint old toast of 'I drink to Cardinal Puff' may be said to have died with him, and perhaps there is hardly a man alive who would know how to propose it with all its intricate but graceful honours.
Was the toast linked in some way to the Sport of Kings? Indeed, it appears there may be something in this. There is credible evidence of a famous racehorse named Cardinal Puff, bred of the famous Godolphin Arabian line and owned by Lord Grosvenor, winner of the King’s Plate in 1766, the King’s Purse in 1767 and the Jockey Club plate in 1769.
But it gets better because, in addition to Cardinal Puff the racehorse spoken of above, there were at least two other well-known racehorses named Cardinal Puff in the early 1800s, one exported to America in the 1790s and another who won the 1839 Chester Cup.
The author's grossly underpaid but highly talented research assistants also managed to discover that the equinely-devoted Duke of York in question was born in 1763 and died in 1827, suggesting a connection with the famous grey racehorse was a strong possibility.
Therefore, it appears that SUCC is continuing a tradition invented several centuries ago, maybe even as early as the 1780s, by someone associated with horse racing and possibly the Duke of York!
Stay tuned, we will be regularly presenting this "In The Sheds..." feature with a different mystery player (though this week's may not be all that mysterious) providing the story.