Northampton

World conker champion crowned in Northamptonshire

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Media captionJohn Doyle was crowed world conker champion and Stephanie Withall a runner-up in the competition in Northamptonshire

A man who beat 176 people to take the the title in the 48th World Conker Championships said he had "dreamed about this moment".

The competitors from countries including the United States, Mexico, and Italy, took part in the competition in Southwick, Northamptonshire.

John Doyle, a computer programmer from Leamington Spa, was crowned world champion.

Stephanie Withall, a beekeeper from Burton Latimer, was runner-up.

The event, which started in 1965, is organised by the Ashton Conker Club and this year saw 177 people take part.

Image caption John Doyle (right) took his place on the traditional Conker Throne next to runner-up Stephanie Withall
Image caption Many competitors, such as the Sutton Coldfield team, dressed up to take part
Image caption Competitors stand on podiums to play

Players take turns at hitting their opponent's conker and the game goes on until one of the conkers is completely destroyed.

It is described by organisers as "a great spectacle of modern-day gladiators fighting for glory armed only with a nut and 12" of string".

Overall champion Mr Doyle said conkers was "an ideal game for a non-sporty person who doesn't even like watching sport".

"But there's a lot more strategy involved than in other games. Hopefully it'll be in the Olympics next time," he added.

Image caption Reigning champion David Jakins was defending his title
Image caption David Jakins played in the opening game of the tournament
Image caption Flynn from Leicester and Elliott from Whittlesey, both aged 9, were in the junior category

Competitors play on eight white podiums and go through a number of rounds until the winner emerges.

Mr Doyle beat off stiff competition including the self-styled "US national team" from Wisconsin, who turned up wearing "cheese on our heads because we're from the cheese state".

The organiser of the North American Conker Championship, Peter Davies, flew in from Nova Scotia, Canada, to pick up some tips.

His event was inspired by the Northamptonshire World Championships three years ago.

"We'll learn a few things from around here. We don't have a costume competition, so I really wanted to see that," he said.

Money raised from the event goes to charities for the blind or partially sighted and, over the years, more than £400,000 has been donated.

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