Sunday was a very exciting day! The return of the annual Hampstead Heath Conker Championship, banished for two long years by the pandemic.
And the figures showed how much it had been missed – over 300 registered competitors and hundreds of spectators. Heath Hands also raised over £300 in donations and sales, launched the new 2023 Hampstead Heath calendar and made some wonderful leaf crowns and conker creatures in their interpretation sessions. Moreover the weather gods obviously like a good conker championship as the sun shone all afternoon out of a cloudless blue sky.
Despite the slightly tardy arrival of our compère and the band, competitors of all ages were on the ball and queuing up to sign up on the dot of 12.30.
Competitors were coralled into four pens – Under 8s, 8 to 12 year olds, teenagers and adults – and the rules were explained. A first round of three minutes during which, in three-hit bouts, you attempted to hit your opponent’s conker. (Well ideally, to smash it but this year’s conkers were a pretty solid lot and I only saw one smashed.) You then moved on to the ‘best of 12 hits’ and the winner of this went on to the next round.
While some were quite light hearted about their involvement, for some it was obviously a serious matter. As you will see in minute, this lady did her knuckles serious damage in attempting to best her opponent.
So here they go, compère in place and in full voice……
And here, people, are the finals!
First up, in the Under 8s class, were Pedro and Jack – followed by Leo and Daniel in the 8-12 year olds class – and a very sporting pair they were too. The teenage final was a cliff hanger with both competitors ending on 12 all – so into a sudden death play off! And finally the adults, won after a tight final round by the hard hitting Antony!
And here are those golden conkers which went to each of the winners – along with the golden dinosaur who oversaw the proceedings and who now looks forward to 2023. As do we all!