Welly wanging is a sport that originated in Britain in Upperthong, Holmfirth. Competitors are required to hurl a Wellington boot as far as possible within boundary lines, from a standing or running start. A variation requires participants to launch the welly from the end of their foot as if they were kicking off a pair of shoes. The high level of competition has led to precise, highly-regulated rules for the sport. The sport is regulated and administered by the World Welly Wanging Association, based in Upperthong
The Welly Wanging World Championships are held each year in the town of Upperthong in Holmfirth. It is thought that welly wanging originated following an incident where a pint of ale was spilt into a local resident's welly. Since that iconic moment the sport has never looked back.
Note that the word welly is also often spelt as wellie. Welly wanging events today are often associated with fundraising events.
Current World Champions
2013 Welly Wanging World Champs
Men – Adam Taylor
Ladies – Annie Mitchell
Girls ( u14) – Amy Broomhead
Boys ( u14) – Sam Hobson
Previous World Champions
2012 Welly Wanging World Champs
Men – Tim Nield
Ladies – Pauline Hazleden
Girls ( u14) – Amy Broomhead
Boys ( u14) – Sam Hobson
2011 Welly Wanging World Champs
Men – Joshua May
Ladies – Rebecca Ferrington
Girls ( u14) – Judy Graham
Boys ( u14) – Paul Johnston
World Welly Wanging Association rules
- Welly wanging is a sport open to all people irrespective of age, sex, race, creed, religion, nationality and colour.
- The sport shall be a civilised affair. Fair play, good humour and good manners shall be exhibited at all times.
- No umpire shall be needed. A player’s word and their honour shall be sufficient.
- Distances shall be measured in yards, feet and inches. None of this European nonsense.
- The standard welly shall be the Dunlop green, size 9, non steel toe-cap. Competitors shall select whether they use left or right welly.
- No tampering with the welly shall be allowed. Factory finish only. No silicone polish is to be applied.
- A maximum run-up of 42 paces shall be allowed. This distance was chosen in memory of Douglas Adams, himself a proponent of the sport.
- The run-up shall end with a straight line of 10 feet in length, that being the width of a standard Yorkshire gate.
- The welly shall land within the area defined by the straight lines between the Upperthong Gala field and Holme Moss television mast on one side, and on the other by the line between the field and Longley Farm windmill. This playing area is known as the ‘Thong’.
- There shall be four categories: Men’s and Women’s, and Boys and Girls (u-14’s)
- The welly shall be projected using any action of the arm or foot for the respective categories.
- The use of wind assistance is allowed and, indeed, encouraged. Waiting for a suitable gust, however, is limited to one minute. No artificial or man-made wind is to be used.
- The winners of the two adult categories at the World Championships shall be proclaimed world champion for the forthcoming 12 months, and be awarded a prize as set by the organisers.
There are four main techniques for ensuring good welly propulsion:
One handed – This is a commonly used technique, where the competitor uses a single hand to propel his or her welly. This can be attempted either right or left-handed, but you cannot use both simultaneously on separate boots.
Double handed – This is often used where there is a particularly large welly, so that both hands can fit securely around the boot. Propulsion in this position usually involves a shot-put-style swing technique.
Between the legs – This is where the competitor throws the welly from between their legs, facing towards the target and bending the legs slightly to accommodate the swing. This is a commonly applied technique for smaller competitors and beginners.
Backward throw – This is when the competitor throws the welly over their head, whilst facing away from their target. Whilst this enables a large back swing, it also means that the target is out of sight for the duration of the throw. The competitor must also be wary of having the boot land on their head when throwing in this position.
History of Welly Wanging
Welly Wanging originated in Upperthong at a time when people didn’t have the distraction of PlayStations, shopping or watching TV to while away the time. So people had to be inventive and create games around the everyday objects they had at their disposal. Being a rural village, Upperthong folk didn’t have a great deal of stimulation to work from so it’s no surprise that the locals discovered an alternative use for the most popular footwear in the village – the Welly Boot.
History has it that the sport originated from a spat between two farmers in the local pub one night. An unfortunate incident saw the spilling of ale into the wellington boot of an innocent and unwitting bystander. Notwithstanding the virtual criminal act of spilling ale in the first place – something that would almost certainly have caused a chorus of boos, hisses and well deserved verbal abuse directed at the clumsy oaf. The farmer whose trousers were now sodded and whose foot was drowned up to the ankle was not best pleased by all accounts. In a fit of rage he removed his boot and preceded to chase the drink spilling fool out of the pub swinging hard and fast with his improvised rubber weapon.
Unfortunately, with only one boot he was considerably slower than his prey. And so in a fit of frustration he wanged the boot as hard as he could in the direction of the escaping farmer. It’s unclear whether he missed or managed to clonk the chap on the back of the head. Legend has it that locals re-enacted the scene over the following weeks. And that this somehow turned into a friendly competition as to who could throw the welly most like the angry farmer – who threw it a long way apparently. From that point on Welly Wanging made it into Upperthong village life and then upwards and onwards onto the global stage.
Many other countries have their own equivalent of wellie wanging. The town of Taihape in New Zealand, styles itself the gumboot-throwing capital of the country (or the gumboot-throwing capital of the world), while an annual Boot-Throwing Championships takes place in various European countries such as Germany, Finland and Poland.
- "Taihape: Gumboot Capital of the World". Taihape Information Centre. 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-19. "Taihape's claim to be the gumboot-throwing capital of the world has been getting some strong support from the high echelons of New Zealand diplomatic service."