Smashing fun with conkers

Avis Gilliatt presents the men's conker champion prize to Keith Haines
Avis Gilliatt presents the men's conker champion prize to Keith Haines

YVONNE Hunt and Keith Haines proved to be conquering champions at the annual Fenland Conker Championships.

Around 70 participants took part in the annual event, which has been running for more than 10 years, held at the Oasis Community Centre in Wisbech and hosted by the town’s Lions Club.

As usual the competition was very hard and contestants thwacked and smashed their opponents conkers for the right to be crowned Fenland Conker Champion of 2011.

Sue Burgess from March Catholic Church, women’s champion for the past two years came up against strong opposition in the quarter-finals and lost to Yvonne Hunt from ‘The Nutters’ of Fenland Village.

The other half of the women’s matches seemed to be dominated by younger players with 16-year-old Imogen Pope from Peterborough beating friend Nicola Langton to reach the finals.

The women’s final between Yvonne Hunt and Imogen Pope was a game of tactics with neither player wishing to deliver a knockout blow.

Former World champion Ady Hurrell, who was referee for the Friday night fun, was about to call time when Yvonne finally delivered the coup-de-grace blow to become champion.

The men’s competition was a much noisier event with a very partisan crowd cheering their favourites.

Teams from Peterborough Lions, Kings’ Lynn Lions, March and Crowland were quickly eliminated.

Only Hunstanton Lions seemed to stand in the way of a rout by Wisbech Lions. The newcomers took the team prize but their individual combatants were knocked out in the semi-finals leaving Wisbech Lion Keith Haines and fellow Wisbechian Kevin Rodgers, playing for March Catholic Church, to battle it out for the honours.

With less than a minute to go Keith smashed his opponent’s conker with only his third strike.

About £350 was raised for local charities and good causes.