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From cheese rolling to welly wanging, England certainly has its fair share of weird and wonderful sports. These utterly bonkers competitions usually have long histories attached to particular towns and areas of the country, the locals keeping up long honoured traditions and drawing in the crowds with unusual tourism attractions. On the border of Lancashire and Yorkshire, the small town of Ramsbottom could perhaps host the most peculiar sport of them all: The World Black Pudding Throwing Championship.
Recently hailed as a super food, it may seem a little wasteful to lob your black pudding across a town rather than savouring its hearty flavours. In fact, the competition is far more wasteful, as the black puds are in fact hurled at piles of Yorkshire puddings with the one who knocks over the most Yorkshires hailed the winner. Not a competition for those who don’t believe in playing with their food.
The tradition dates back to the 15th century and the War of the Roses, in particular a battle in Stubbins, Lancashire between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. The legend goes that the soldiers ran out of ammunition and only had their county’s beloved puddings to hand. The Lancashire troops gathered up black puddings as the Yorkshire men piled up Yorkshire puddings and the two sides fought the battle by heaving the puddings at each other.
Nowadays, it’s a little more civilised, if not just as strange. Yorkshire puddings are piled up on a twenty-foot high plinth and competitors lob black puddings at them using only underarm throws. The competition lasts from 11am until 4pm, when the winner is declared as the person who dislodged the most Yorkshire puds from the pile. It may not sound as exciting as the FA Cup final, but the Black Pudding Throwing Championship manages to draw in thousands of spectators each year.
The black puddings used for the competition are specially prepared, wrapped in tights so they don’t explode all over the street and are weighed to ensure that no one receives an unfair advantage.
Occurring every September, the competition is launched by the Mayor of Bury throwing the first black pudding. Entrants must donate £1 to charity to get their turn at throwing the puddings and the winner receives a grand prize of £100. There is also a smaller version of the competition for children.
This year’s competition will be held on Sunday 10th September.