The Claymore Club has 8 (chartered) members but some accounts say 9 members.
The annual tournament among its members is the Claymore Stag Tournament (The Claymore) fought in short heel (gaff) using odd number of gamecock stags which happened to be 9 stags when the club was founded in 1940.
– Gameness til the End
Notes from Frank Shy’s History of the Claymore
The annual Claymore Stag Tournament is one of the most exclusive and prestigious cocking events of this century. It is a weekend long event hosted on a rotating basis, by each of its eight members, with elaborate formal dinners and elegant cocktail parties. It has been held on the second Saturday in May since 1940. Participation is limited to members only, with a roster that reads like a Who’s Who of Cockers.
The Claymore was organized February 15, 1940, to create an association of sportsmen to contest annually in a tournament of stags, and to fraternize as equals in sport which has sadly been lacking in such characteristics. The name of the club comes from the Gaelic Chaidheamh Mo’r, that literally means ‘great sword’, a two handed double-edged broadsword, once used by the Highlanders of Scotland.
Chartered members of the Claymore consisted of Lew Ledyard, Sandy Hatch, Henry Sage, Walter Cox, Tom Murphy, Bayard Tuckerman, Jr., Oliver Hoyle, and Dan O’Connell. These men all had imported professional careers and connections outside the cocking world. Frank Shy includes a brief, but impressive, biographies for each of them.
There had been a forerunner to the Claymore called the Heel and Tap Club which was founded in 1922. Information about the Club’s name and its original membership is sketchy, but Shy allows that the original group dissolved following “a case of unbecoming conduct on the part of one of its members when unduly influenced by rare and ancient vintages.” No other specifics are given. The group was reconstituted and renamed in 1940, under Bayard Tuckerman, Jr. The offending member was presumably not included in the new charter. Tuckerman stayed on as president of the new club until 1960.
The Claymore is a great little book full of all kinds of interesting historical footnotes that relate indirectly to the club and its members. Frank allows that before the Civil War, his great-great-grandfather, James Shy, fought a family of chickens for a living on Ohio and Mississippi river boats. That same family became the foundation stock for Sid Taylor’s famous game strain. James Shy and Sid Taylor also helped build Churchhill Downs and establish a stakes race for three year olds better known today as the Kentucky Derby. Frank is able to trace many similar parallels between legends of “the turf” (horse tracks), and masters of “the sod” (cockpits).
Of Tom Murphy he writes [He} has been the Babe Ruth of harness racing, the Red Grange of cockfighting, and the Bet-a-Million Gates of finance. When President Eisenhower was in the White House and wanted to go hunting, he called up Tom Murphy. When my daughter expressed disappointment in not being able to see the Circus in Madison Square Garden, Tom telephoned John Ringling North and procured a seat in the presidential box. The names of the horses which Tom Murphy has driven or trained or owned, or all three, reads like a chapter from Who’s Who in the horse world.
The Claymore was originally published in 1966, and is currently out of print. If you can find an original copy of the little book at a good price, pick it up and hang on to it. In John Norris’s last catalog of books on poultry and cocking, a signed copy was going for eighty dollars. If you have any recent information about the Claymore, please send it to me via Gamecock Magazine. I would enjoy hearing from you.
The Gamecock Magazine, July 1996 page 85