CONTROVERSY has struck one of the highlights of Wigan’s sporting calendar, which will be going topless after a health and safety row.
The World Pie Eating Championships, which will once again see competitors descend on Harry’s Bar in Wallgate to scoff against the clock for the Bradley Piggins Trophy, will not have crusts on the pastry edibles after risk assessment lawyers stepped in.
The competition, held exactly at Pie Noon tomorrow, will see contestants attempting to consume Wigan’s most famous contribution to cuisine as fast as possible to take home the title of World Champion and lift the Bradley Piggins Trophy.
The organisers are determined to ensure the contest will continue to thrive despite the intervention of health and safety, saying rumours of its demise are very much exaggerated and reassuring people the removal of tops will be strictly limited to the trays of pastries.
Bar owner and event organiser Tony Callaghan said: “In jeopardy? Is that that new discotheque in Hindley?
“No, the contest is definitely still in Harry’s Bar.
“The competition will be topless: but it’s the pies that will be topless, not the competitors. It’s a health and safety thing the lawyers have insisted upon over worries that competitors may put personal discomfort aside in their bids for glory.
“By taking the top off the competition pies it ensures that there is no danger of retained heat. We had a nasty incident in training when the contents of a red-hot pie got stuck to the roof of somebody’s mouth and only the quick thinking of a barperson prevented further injury by blasting the residue off with a shaken bottle of fizzy water.”
The championships, which have now been attracting pie eaters to Wallgate to vie for the crown for more than 20 years, may be a fairly light-hearted affair but is governed by strict rules.
The pies must have a diameter of 12cm and a depth of 3.5cm, and the filling must be in cubes of a minimum of 1cm. There must also be at least 66 meat in the pie, without including the pastry.
The event should see the popular town centre bar packed to the rafters with competitors, onlookers and media to see who can emulate furniture salesman Martin Clare, 34, who consumed his pie in just 23.53 seconds to take last year’s first prize.
A Leigh resident, who asked not to be named, suggested the removal of crust from the top of the competition pies should lead to the contest being renamed the World Lobby Eating Championships.
The World Pie Eating Championships will be held tomorrow at noon at Harry’s Bar, on Wallgate.