A Splash of Triumph: GVFB win 2023 Squirt

Welcome to our picture special, where we share some of the photos we’ve been sent of the GVFB Squirt 2023 – the Boxing Day spectacle that has become a cherished tradition in our village!

The annual event, brimming with community spirit and friendly rivalry, became an exhilarating contest between our valiant volunteers, the GVFB, and the skilled professionals of the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS).  The event, which has been going on for nearly 40 years, has seen hundreds of firefighters from across the county take part, led in recent years by the crews from Burton Latimer fire station.

GVFB members singing for the public before the main event. [Photo: Steve McAlister]
This year’s contest was nothing short of spectacular. After a nail-biting start that saw the GVFB trailing 0-2, the team staged an incredible comeback, clinching a 3-2 victory!

The GVFB’s Commanding Officer for 2023, Simon Clubb, said “We are really pleased to welcome back Northants Fire and Rescue Service for another fantastic Squirt! The event was a great success, seeing hundreds of villagers turn out to witness our victory.”

GVFB Commanding Officer Simon Clubb, with Kettering Mayor Emily Fedorowycz. The event begins when the CO lowers his baton. [Photo: Justin Brice]

Charity colleciton

There was a collection on the day for The Fire Fighters Charity, whose aim is to help all serving and retired members of the UK’s fire family and offers support for mental and physical health, promoting social wellbeing, and offering specialized nursing care.  CO Simon Clubb went on to say, “We’re pleased to announce that we raised over £650 in the collection which we will pass on to The Fire Fighters Charity.  The work they do is essential and has directly helped firefighters in Northamptonshire.”

This remarkable charity offers a lifeline to both serving and retired firefighters, as well as their families, providing essential assistance across a spectrum of needs. The charity recognizes the unique challenges faced by firefighters, who often encounter physically demanding and emotionally taxing situations in the line of duty. By offering tailored rehabilitation programs, psychological support, and health and wellbeing resources, the Fire Fighters Charity ensures that these brave men and women receive the care and support they need.

Firefighters from NFRS meet with members of the GVFB at the GVFB Station on Grafton Road. From here they paraded down to the cross for inspection by the mayor and for some christmas carols. [Photo: GVFB]

Inspection by the Guest of Honour

Before the event, the crews from both teams were inspected by the Kettering Mayor, Cllr Emily Fedorowycz, after which a minutes silence was taken in honour of those not able to attend.  In particular, Corby firefighter Hilmi Say was remembered, who died from stage four cancer, just two days earlier.

Both teams then ascended the steps of the cross to sing a few Christmas carols, followed by the song “A Fairytale of GVFB” – apparently set to the tune of the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York.

A somewhat wet CO Simon Clubb, proving that the bridge is not always the best place to stand if you want to keep dry. [Photo: Steve McAlister]

What is the Squirt?

Once described by David Mitchell on Would I Lie to You? as “A game that is played across a river between volunteer firemen with a souped-up ice cream van, squirting a barrel in which the locals come and stand and watch in just the place where they get splashed with water.”, the Squirt has become something of a legend in Northamptonshire.

The centerpiece of this event is a beer barrel, ingeniously suspended over the River Ise on a wire. The objective for each team is straightforward yet challenging: use their fire hoses to push the barrel past the opposition’s line, effectively winning a round in this watery tug-of-war. The teams, positioned on opposite sides of the river, engage in a best-of-five rounds duel.

GVFB members with the trophy and posing with the Kettering Mayor. Left to right: Fireman Shipley, Community Officer McLean, Councillor Emily Fedorowycz, Fireman Collett, Fireman York. [Photo: Bruce Collett]


Thank you to all those who have submitted their Squirt photographs for this picture special.

More great photos are available in the Northants Telegraph article.

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