CHEESE rolling in Chester has once again heralded the arrival of the Food, Drink and Lifestyle Festival at Chester Racecourse this Easter.
Eight teams from across Cheshire fought it out on the tricky course, with its obstacles of cows, goats and milkmaids.
More than once, referee Russell Kirk had to intervene and pull apart over-enthusiastic, committed competitors.
The team from Marketing Cheshire was disqualified in its second heat when team captain Emma Bellis hoisted the event sponsor, Allington Hughes, out of the arena and in the second semi-final NFU Mutual was on time penalties for body-blocking opponent Taste Cheshire, a tactic now outlawed in the modern game.
However, cheese rolling president and Chester Cheese Shop owner Carole Faulkner and festival chairwoman Jane Mooney, who presented the prizes to the winners, agreed it was one of the most fiercely contested finals ever.
The final was a repeat of 2012, with Guy Dimmelows team from Chorlton Cheese of Malpas against last year’s winners and The Cheshire Cheese Company of Macclesfield, whose director of cheese rolling is Richard Buxton – now in retirement after last year.
The two teams were roared on by a large Bridge Street crowd, many of whom make the annual pilgrimage to Chester and take up the same vantage points each year.
There was never more than a cow’s length between the four contestants as the lead changed hands three times during the final.
As both teams crossed the line and collapsed in exhaustion, for the first time judges were called to separate the two teams in a photo finish.
After the photo was examined, The Cheshire Cheese Company was awarded victory.
Jane Mooney said: “It was a humdinger. I have never seen such a brilliant exhibition by both teams, their commitment, technique and overall desire to win was extraordinary.
“It is a shame there can only be one winner. Well done to Cheshire Cheese and commiserations to Guy and his team from Chorlton Cheese.”
The Chester Cheese Rolling is the first of a series of food and drink-related events leading up to the Chester Food, Drink and Lifestyle Festival this Easter.
For more information about upcoming events, visit www.chesterfoodanddrink.co.uk.