THERE was a time, back in the 1970s and 80s, when no village fete was complete without it and as there are still a few weekends of late summer left – isn’t September often the kindest of months – how about a revival of the welly wanging contest?

The event went down a storm at the recent Martley village show and was attracting much custom until a hefty chap hurled the boot so far it disappeared clean off the sports field and into someone’s back garden, well beyond measuring distance. At which point an apologetic soul was dispatched to retrieve it with a knock on the door and a request: “Please can we have our welly back?” At least it made a change from “Please can we have our cricket/football back.”

The sport seems to have originated in the West Country here in England sometime during the early ‘70s in the Adge Cutler and the Wurzels hey-day, but has spread worldwide as far as Australia and New Zealand (where you can imagine they are pretty good at it), Russia, Germany, Scandinavia and even Italy, which probably produces very fashionable welly wangers.

The gist of it is very simple – to throw a Wellington boot as far as possible. You can throw overarm, underarm, round arm, spinning or from behind your back, any way you like. In some forms the boot is filled with water to add a bit more embarrassment to the contestants, but you are not allowed to put anything in the boot, like a large stone, which would make it easier to throw farther. Sometimes a run-up is allowed, sometimes not.

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The first world record throw recognised by Guinness World Records was 173ft set by Tony Rodgers in Wiltshire, UK, in 1978, using a size eight Dunlop "Challenger" boot. The current world records are 209.9ft for men, set by Teppo Luoma (Finland, 1996), and 134.1ft for women, set by Sari Tirkkon (Finland, 1996).

In 1976 the local star was 25-year-old floor tiler Peter Westmacott of Redwing Close, Malvern, who sent a welly winging 154ft two-and-a-half inches through the air at Worcester City Show. However, Pete had achieved a distance of more than 180ft during practice in a field near his home, which had it been officially measured would have been a world record at the time.

In fact the Worcester and District Championships, organised by the local Rotary and Rotoract clubs, were a highlight of the local sporting calendar for several years. They were held either at Worcester City Show, on the lawn of the Dew Drop Inn at Lower Broadheath or the car park of the Half Way House inn at Bastonford, near Malvern and were a qualifier for the Dunlop-Daily Mirror Championships at Alton Towers.

The involvement of Rotary shows there was very often a charity element to these events and they proved an invaluable way to add to the fundraising coffers. So anyone for wanging a welly again?

1 Telephonist Brenda Beard warming up for the Worcester and District Championships in 1976

2 Peter Westmacott of Malvern, who threw 180 ft in practice in 1976, which was farther than the world record at the time.

3 Sally Green arrives with approved wellies for the event at the Half Way House inn, Bastonford in 1974.

4 John Bridges hurls a welly at the Half Way House during a charity event for the Worcester Coronary Care Unit appeal

5 Underhand tactics, adding a brick to the welly makes it easier to throw farther.

6 John Harrison, organiser of Worcester Rotary Club’s event at the Dew Drop Inn in 1975, checks the distance.

7 Rotary Club stalwart Ted Whitehouse demonstrates the technique of age and experience.