May 2, 2017 / 11:44 AM / 3 years ago

English village hosts annual cheese rolling championships

LONDON (Reuters) - Cheese-handling skills are not normally a prerequisite for success in sporting competition, but to win the English village of Stilton’s most coveted prize, they are essential.

The village - which gave its name to the Stilton variety of English cheese - held its annual cheese rolling competition on Monday, with men’s and women’s teams competing in a knockout competition for bragging rights and a rather grand title.

“It’s fantastic. Got my own trophy. I can say I’m a world champion. Great spirit. It’s all just good fun really,” Jo, a member of Anna’s Girls, the team who took top honours in the women’s category, said.

The event is jokingly billed as an ancient tradition. In fact, the competition began in the mid-20th century, when an enterprising pub landlord sought a way to boost business, after the village was bypassed by a major road.

Teams of four contestants roll wooden blocks shaped like rolls of cheese through the streets - the real cheese would be unlikely to survive the competition.

As with many team sports, coordination is vital to success.

“You’ve got to put your wingmen out to stop it going out and put two in the centre and if your start doing that it’s the secret to your success,” said Martin Piece, a referee at the event.

Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London, editing by Ed Osmond

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