Great British Sports: Welly Wanging


A between the legs welly wang by Annie Mole via Flickr

You won’t see Welly Wanging in the regular Olympics and this sport may not yet rival footy as one of our national pastimes, but we should be giving some respect to our wangers for carrying on a venerable Yorkshire tradition with very little publicity and absolutely no funding from any Sports Council. What is this all about?

Welly Wanging basically involves throwing (wanging from the Yorkshire dialect) a wellington boot (welly) as far as you can. You are given various ways to wang including one-handed, double handed, between the legs and backward throw. You can basically take up to 42 paces before letting go of your welly – the 42 here is a nod to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, who was one of the sport’s most famous fans.

This sport is held to have originated in the Yorkshire village of Upperthong at some indeterminate time in the past. It may or may not have started as a fight between two farmers when one of them spilled some ale into the other’s welly. The chase that allegedly ensued with the offending welly being brandished about may (or may not) have got this sport off the ground.

Anyway, this isn’t a late April Fool’s joke. Welly Wanging still has its home in Upperthorpe where the World Championships are held every year and it can be seen at village fetes and fairs all over the country. Its popularity has spread across the globe. The current World Record holder is actually Finnish. In a typically British way, we invented the sport, let other people play and then started letting them be better at it than we are. Oh well.

The rules of Welly Wanging are a lesson in themselves in British humour and bizarre regional behaviour. The first rule states that: “Welly wanging is a sport open to all people irrespective of age, sex, race, creed, religion, nationality and colour. And people from Lancashire.” For those of you who are not in the know, there is a fierce rivalry between the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire over here. Another rule states that: “Distances shall be measured in yards, feet and inches. None of this European nonsense.”. Yep, you guessed it, not many people are that fond of the rest of Europe either….

So, if you find yourself at a village fete or fair or are lucky enough to get to the pinnacle event in Upperthorpe, make sure to watch the professionals in action or even have a go yourself. Amateurs are always welcome as long as they try their best :)

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Posted in Featured Posts, Just Plain Bizarre..., Sport

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