He’s too late to be considered for the BBC Sports Personality of 2009, but let’s raise a cheer to the region’s latest sports champion. Step forward Barry Rigby, who this week won the World Pie Eating Championship in Wigan. Now you may think pie eating isn’t a legitimate sport, but that’s fighting talk in Wigan where they take it very seriously.
The contest is held at noon-known locally as “pie noon” and the pie must measure 12cm by 3.5cm deep and have 66% meat content. For statisticians out there, the world record is 35.86 seconds. The contest is not without controversy, however. Three years it infuriated traditionalists by scrapping the eat all you can in three minutes rule and replacing it with the time trial.
This year there was uproar when local pies were substituted for nearby but foreign “Adlington” pies. ''We were stunned,'' said one of Wigan's local pie-munching favourites, Andy Driscoll. ''My mate and I have been practising for weeks on small, soft Wigan pies and at the last minute, they've substituted these monsters”. The lack of local pies forced the only female entrant, Julie Walsh, to withdraw her entry on a point of principle. And the ban on gravy (imposed after allegations that last year it was being doped with cough medicine) also proved unpopular.
I have my own quibble with the contest-the exclusion of vegetarian entrants, but it would be churlish not to celebrate such sporting excellence in a field well suited to the pub environs.