Oggie, oggie, oggie – Oi, oi, oi! – heard at rugby matches up and down the country, but particularly in Wales and Cornwall, or at Scout camps, round the fire; or at the Great North Run¹, or anywhere where the shouter thinks the recipient needs some motivation. For a genteel demonstration of how to shout it, watch Catherine Zeta-Jones confuse her American colleagues here. Catherine even used it in her 2003 Oscar acceptance speech. (But we won’t inflict that one on you. You don’t do that to your friends)
What on earth is an oggie? Many Brits don’t know [rumour has it that other Kayte may not have heard the name before. Allegedly] but we all know the chant. We are likely to hear it a lot whilst the Six Nations rugby is on.
An oggie, however, is the original name for what we now know as a Cornish Pasty. The pasty has been popular for centuries; a mixture of slow-cooked lamb or beef, mixed with potatoes and sometimes carrots or onions, all encased in pastry and baked. They are heavenly.
Legend has it that they were the original ‘convenience food’. The pastry was originally just there as a method of transportation, was hard, salted and definitely not meant to be eaten. The men would take pasties to work in the mines, and at lunch time, break the pastry open and eat the contents.
The word ‘oggie’ either comes from the old Cornish word ‘hoggan‘ (a pastry or pie) or the Welsh word ‘chwiogen‘. Or a mixture of the two.
Since the Cornish Pasty name now has DOP protection, and can only be called that if it were made in Cornwall, the Welsh have just reverted the old name they used for it. If you wanted one in Somerset, you would ask for a ‘Tiddy Oggy‘.
OK, so far, so regional. But why the chant? There is a strong rumour that it, too, started with the mining community, where the women would come to the top of the pit at lunch, and shout ‘oggy, oggy, oggy’ (i.e. ‘here’s your lunch, love’) and the men would shout back ‘Oi, oi, oi’ (‘Yes, please, chuck it down’), but there is no evidence for this, so it could just be complete cobblers².
The Cornish team supporters have been chanting it for at least 100 years. The team still bring a giant fibreglass pasty, supported by goal posts, to parade around Twickenham Stadium before the Counties’ Cup. The currently sported pasty was apparently made in 1908
In the 1970s, the Welsh comedian (and rugby union fan) Max Boyce used to chant it at his stand-up gigs to get the crowd going, so many Welshmen and women think the chant is Welsh.
The Aussies (including my brother in law) think it is ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’, but that seems only to date from the 2000 Sydney Olympics (Sorry, Andy).
British Naval officers also claim that they started it. Probably ages before anyone else. Probably.
The Cornish spell it ‘oggie’, the Welsh ‘oggie’, so no one agrees on that, either.
So, essentially, everyone shouts it in appreciation, or for encouragement, no-one seems to know exactly why, many claim it is quite annoying, but few will resist if you start a chant, especially at the rugby.
Take some of these to the rugby, and no-one will find it annoying.
(makes 8 oggies)
- 450g plain flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 250g chilled butter, diced
- 6 tablespoons chilled water
- beaten egg or milk, to glaze
- 25g butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 200g leeks, finely sliced
- salt and pepper to season
- 350g lean lamb, finely diced
- 200g potato, peeled and finely diced
- 50ml lamb or vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon mint sauce
1. To make the pastry: Sift the flour and a pinch of salt together into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons chilled water evenly over the surface and start bringing the dough together. Add a little more water if the mixture is too dry.
3. Gather the dough together, then lightly knead on a floured surface for a few seconds until smooth.
4. Wrap and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
5. To make the filling: Put 25g butter in small pan and add onion, leek, salt and pepper and fry gently for 1 to 2 minutes,
6. Add the lamb, fry gently for a further 2 minutes.
7. Add the diced potato and stock, simmer for 5 minutes. Add the mint sauce. Set aside to cool.
8. Heat the oven to 230C/Gas 7.
9. To assemble: Divide the pastry into eight pieces, then roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface to a 22cm round. Spoon an equal amount of the filling onto the centre of each pastry round.
10. Cover half of each pasty circle with the filling. Moisten pastry edges and fold pastry over the filling.
11. Use your fingers to crimp the pasty all along to try to eliminate any leakage when pasty is cooking. Brush with milk or beaten egg before placing in the oven.
12. Cook for 10 minutes at 230C and then turn down the oven down to 190 C / Gas 5 for another 20 to 25 minutes. Pasty should be hard and golden brown.
13. Serve warm.
1 – The Great North Run – an annual half-marathon run in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Usually in the rain.
2 – Cobblers – an informal way to say ‘a load of rubbish’. Coming from the Cockney Rhyming Slang ‘cobblers awls’ (the awl is the tool a cobbler would use), to mean (ahem) gentlemen’s parts.
(c) Kayte & Nicer Kate 2017. Authors assert moral rights