THE World Pie Eating crown will stay in Wigan for another year.
It was a familiar face who scoffed his pastry down the quickest of the bunch at Harry’s Bar in Wigan town centre on Thursday.
Martin Appleton-Clare claimed the title in 2012 although it has escaped his grasp the last two years.
But the 37-year-old Wiganer made no mistakes this time around, gobbling the steak and kidney pie down in just 38.2 seconds.
“It’s fantastic,” he said, moments after his victory.
“It didn’t feel right last year without (the trophy) so it has come back where it belongs now.
“The pies were a bit different, they were steak and kidney for a start which I wasn’t expecting with puff pastry which brought another element into it but a pie is a pie at the end of the day.”
Among Martin’s competition was Barry Rigby, last year’s winner. But as news filtered around that the reigning champion was feeling slightly unwell, there was a recognition that this would be a very open contest.
Each year it takes place, there are a few familiar faces meaning the competition gets tastier every time.
“We are a network now,” added Martin.
A pie is a pie, at the end of the dayMartin Appleton-Clare
“There’s Matt from Salford who I met last year and Barry, last year’s winner, I’ve got him on Facebook.
“I didn’t doubt myself this year in anyway shape or form, I knew it was coming home today so I’m just glad it did.
“It’s lovely to keep it in Wigan. Salford can’t win anything God bless them, they can’t win football and they’re no good at rugby or pie eating.
“One of them is a Man City fan and we all know about Man City v Wigan after the FA Cup.”
The contest is organised by Harry’s bar owner Tony Callaghan who acts as official umpire, setting the pie lovers off with his famous “3...2...1... GER ‘AYTIN” cry.
Although Tony is impartial during the event, he couldn’t hide his delight at the trophy staying in Wigan.
“Martin won it in 2012 and he’s come back and won it again so we’re really pleased the winner and the trophy remain in Wigan,” he said.
“It’s a great accolade to win, they’re up there with Sir Bradley Wiggins, David Beckham and Cliff Richard. It brings status to them!
“There could be movies for him and all sorts, you don’t know what is going to come for him.”
There was a cloud of controversy over last year’s event with the pies being far bigger than usual after a mix-up in the kitchen. But there were no problems this time around.
And Tony had a response for those around the town who view the competition with a touch of scorn and believe it shows Wigan in a negative light.
Tony added: “I’m a Wiganer, born and bred, I love everything about it and I hold the competition.
“Wiganers do genuinely say ‘oh you can’t do that in Wigan’.
“We’re Wiganers, we should be proud of it. We have a great rugby team, a football team and we eat pies. Why not tell the world?”