Barry regains pie crown

THEY came, they saw, they devoured ... The World Pie Eating Championship returned to Wigan for its 22nd consecutive year - with a proud Wiganer reclaiming the title and the much-sought after Bradley Piggins Trophy!

As opposed to previous years, the competition was split into two heats with the two winners facing each other in a pie-off.

Barry Rigby with the Bradley Piggins Trophy

Barry Rigby with the Bradley Piggins Trophy

And, much to the delight of “piemaster” and organiser Tony Callaghan, the trophy stayed in Wigan as Barry Rigby followed up on his 2009 triumph with a time of 42.8 seconds to regain the crown.

A mix up at Pie HQ – also known as the Raven pub on Wallgate – meant the wrong ones got delivered to Harry’s Bar across the road.

Instead of the usual standard size pies, contestants had to chomp their way through ones more than twice the size with gravy-less filling and a thick crust.

The usual, smaller pastries, it later emerged, had in fact been delivered to a divorce party in Pemberton.

But the show went on and, while the quality of the pies was greater, it provided a tougher test for those taking part.

“We had a bit of a problem because one of my cooks made a mess up with the pies but we got there in the end,” said Tony.

“The pies were very nice, we had some big guys entering it. I think it was a bit difficult for some of them because they’re used to a certain size pie.

“We had to make a management decision and decided we would have been here until 5pm if they’d had one of those big pies, so we cut them in half.

“Then we had a pie-off when the two people who won their heats went head to head. It’s great it stayed in Wigan.”

Matt Backhouse from Swinton won the first heat to book his place in the final play-off before Barry breezed to victory in the other.

This set the stage for one big showdown which saw both competitors demolish their pies but it was the Wiganer who had his mouth clear first.

“The guy from Swinton collared me before it started,” quipped Tony.

“They came a bit heavy handed thinking they could bribe me but they didn’t.

“I was fair and square with them but it’s nice to see Barry has won the competition.”

Barry, from Beech Hill, was delighted to regain his crown.

The 41-year-old has entered every year since he last won and was made up to see off stiff competition, such as 2012 winner Martin Clare, to seal victory.

“I’m very excited to get it back, it’s been a while,” said Barry. “The pies were a bit bigger so they cut them in half and everyone could have a good chomp on them.

“Because I’d only just won the first heat, it was still stuck in my throat so I just asked for some water. I did alright because they were really big.

“I kept entering every year since (I won) to see if I could win it again.

“The contest is funny but it’s nostalgic and the trophy stays in Wigan.”