Donkey ball

Jacob Hyde, Christian County Rescue Team member, shoots a basket Saturday during the Donkey Basketball game at the Pembroke Ruritan Center. The rescue team competed against Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department. Members of Fairview Fire and Rescue competed on the Pembroke team.

County rescue team tops Pembroke Fire Department in annual donkey basketball game

The Christian County Rescue Team sidestepped dung, overcame uncooperative animals and toughed through a scuffle to defeat the Pembroke Fire Department 8-6 and win its second straight Donkey Ball title in a front of a standing room crowd Saturday at Pembroke’s Ruritan building.

While the players — who tried to balance on top of donkeys trying to buck them and often heading the wrong way — were the stars of the show, the busiest man on the court was Harry Allen. He was tasked with keeping the court clear of … debris. Given that he scooped more donkey droppings in the first quarter than there were points scored all game, it wasn’t an easy job.

“They got me as a pooper scooper now,” the donkey ball rider said.

While the low-scoring affair had its share of highlights — stubborn animals heading in whichever direction they pleased, players being thrown to the ground and shots that hit air more often than net — and lowlights — players frustrated over the aggressiveness of their opponents which resulted in at least one near-fight — it certainly wasn’t the craziest game Allen has ever been a part of.

“I’ve been riding a donkey out here since back in my day. Oh, 30 years ago I rode a donkey three or four years in a row and had a lot of fun,” Allen said. “Got on a donkey one day, not knowing what to do, and the donkey took off down Main Street with me. One of the people here in Pembroke, he’s not around no more, he’s gone home now, but he goosed that donkey with a cattle prod.”

The animal took him all the way to the bank before he was able to dismount, but the donkey kept going. They eventually got the animal back, but Allen was on his own.

“A fella caught the donkey … but they forgot all about me. They said it’s hard to replace that donkey, donkeys cost a lot of money.”

No donkeys left the building in this year’s game, but there will still be plenty of stories to keep Pembroke talking until next year. Allen said the fun nature of the game makes it special in the little town, where latecomers have to be turned away and chairs extend out onto the court to make as much room as possible.

“I got a cracked rib one time, but I got up and kept on riding the donkey. I had about a six-week recovery with that cracked rib,” Allen said. “I had a lot of fun. If you’ve never been to a donkey basketball game you need to go. The people just go crazy over it, especially the kids. They just have a good old time. I had a good time. I’m 68 years old now but I still like to have fun.”

The proceeds from ticket and concession sales go toward the local Ruritan club, which mostly uses them for upkeep of the old building, built sometime in the late 1930s, said club member Alton Slaughter.

He had to turn away a few people from the entrance this year. The building only holds about 450 people safely which is a big turnout for a town of less than 1,000.

“Evidently it means a lot to the whole county,” he said. “We sure have a lot of people come through. It’s a good thing. It’s a good community effort. We appreciate all the help we get, appreciate all the people coming out enjoying a good night of fun.”

Jesse Jones is the editor of The Eagle Post. Reach him at jjones@kentuckynewera.com.

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