World Gurning has a new face

By Rachael Grealish

FOR the quirky fair with international fame ugly is beautiful and this year there was a new winner of the mug-mangling competition.

A face only a mother could love: Adrian from Coventry takes the title at the World Gurning Championship -photo by Robert Haile

The Crab Fair World Gurning Championship, which took place Saturday September 17 in Egremont Market Hall, have a new champion: Adrian from Coventry.

Tommy Mattinson – who’s won the gurning 16 times – was in to win after being beaten by Gordon Blacklock in 2015 – but Tommy placed 2nd and Gordon didn’t place in this years competition.

Adrian drives up from Coventry each year to take part, but had never won – until now. He said: “I just never thought it would happen, I never thought I would get here and win. “And to beat such legends I’m just absolutely made up, it’s brilliant – so chuffed.”

Reigning champs from L-R): 16-times winner Tommy Mattinson, 2016 champion Adrian from Coventry, Ged Eccles, Womens 3-times champion Claire Spedding and Junior champ 7-year-old Georgia Lister - photo by Robert Haile

Reigning champs from L-R): 16-times winner Tommy Mattinson, 2016 champion Adrian from Coventry, Ged Eccles, Womens 3-times champion Claire Spedding and Junior champ 7-year-old Georgia Lister – photo by Robert Haile

Claire Spedding and Georgia Lister were quite the mother-daughter duo – with Claire retaining her title in the Women’s World Gurning for the third time and 7-year-old Georgia taking the Junior World Gurning title.

Claire said: ““I’m really proud of my little girl, I didn’t help her, she just did it all on her own.

“I’m really proud of winning for my third time – entering and being part of it is just really fun and great to come down and take part.”

Contestants have to put their head through a horse collar and ‘snarl like a dog, look savage, distort the countenance’.

Those with no teeth have a natural advantage in the contest, because they can move their jaws further up.

Some toothless gurners have even been able to cover their entire nose.

Contestants had came from all over the UK, including London and Scotland, to take part in the tradition.

Oscar Byrne had travlled all the way from London to compete.

He said: “Coming to the gurning is quite a family thing for a long time and it’s always been an ambition and I’ve always wanted to come and compete. It’s thanks to my girlfriend she made it happen and I’ve had a brilliant time.”

Ginge Fullen, who came from Scotland, took part in the guring as part of a bid at a world record. 

The Gurning World Championships was his 23rd time taking part in a world championship competition – his intention is to take part in all the ‘silly’ or traditonal world championships in the UK.

Ginge currently holds a world record for climbing the highest mountains in 170 countries.

He said: “I heard of this and I really wanted to take part, all the competitions I take part in are silly, traditional or fun and this one has just been great.”

The Egremont Crab Fair has been going since 1267 and gurning itself has been a fixture of the event for centuries.

Next year the fair will celebrate it’s 750th anniversary.