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The history and best pictures of Coxheath's World Custard Pie Championship from over the years

More than half a century ago in a sleepy Kent village people began lobbing custard pies at each other.

Over the years word of the bizarre spectacle made it to Japan, then South Africa and Germany.

Defending champions ITTE Q in action in 2016 Picture: Andy Jones
Defending champions ITTE Q in action in 2016 Picture: Andy Jones

Now a global affair the World Custard Pie Championship has overcome a 20-year hiatus and a mystery lasting even longer to become a mainstay of the summer calendar. But this year it has been forced to take a break due to lockdown rules.

It would have been held today so to mark the occasion we've looked back at its history and some of the best pictures of a uniquely Kentish tradition.

The brainchild of Coxheath councillor Mike FitzGerald the event was originally a low-key affair to raise money for the village hall. But it blew up.

Since that fateful day in 1967 more than a thousand teams from around the world have headed to Maidstone to fling flans at eachother.

By the 80s it had become so popular it had to be moved to the Detling Showground due to the extra cost of policing it.

The Piebots in action in 2018 Picture: Sean Aidan
The Piebots in action in 2018 Picture: Sean Aidan

Back then only men could compete with women acting as targets.

When the fairer sex were granted access "they took over and won most of the trophies", exclaimed a jubilant Mr FitzGerald back in 2007.

At the height of its popularity 89 teams hurled the custom made desserts at each other from 8ft away but by 1988 Mr FitzGerald had had his fill, at least temporarily, and the tournament was cancelled.

Its disappearance from the sporting calendar wasn't the only notable absence, though – the trophy with iconic 'splat' insignia was missing.

In 2008 the championship was back but despite a media appeal the cup was still AWOL.

The World Custard Pie Championship is held in Coxheath every summer Picture: Sean Aidan
The World Custard Pie Championship is held in Coxheath every summer Picture: Sean Aidan

The following year was a homecoming in more ways than one.

Not only was it back in the village where it all began but despite competition from far and wide it was Coxheath Til I Pie – made up of Andrew Marling, Ray Batstone, Melvin Martin and Alasdair Smith – who were crowned world champions.

Then in 2011 the unthinkable happened – what was almost certainly the most famous missing trophy mystery in sporting history was resolved.

Mr FitzGerald was "flabbergasted" to find the famous cup on his doorstep.

After 23 years it had been found in an attic, the new owners scouring the internet to find out what on Earth it was.

Since then the championship has taken off again and is once again an integral part of village life.

It even formed the basis of a starter question on BBC Two's University Challenge – the greatest minds from Plymouth and Durham unable to furnish Jeremy Paxman with an answer.

The Japanese even made a triumphant return in 2015.

Alas ITTE Q, accompanied by film crew and cheering fans, were unable to defend their crown the following year.

While circumstances were taken out of organisers' hands this year they have vowed to return.

A Facebook post reading: "We will be back next year, bigger, better and MESSIER than before. Stall holders, Sponsors, Competitors and charities will receive an email shortly with regards to refunds or differed entries. If you have any questions please send us a message. We are as disappointed as you, but rest assured we have more time now to make next year even better!"

On Friday evening organisers also tweeted a new date for next year's competition which will be held on Saturday, June 12.

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