THE DIARY: A knees to nose basis

Sons of the Desert Tingley''Laurel and Hardy
Sons of the Desert Tingley''Laurel and Hardy
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IT’S no joke – this Sheffield lad has just been crowned world champion at a sport inspired by legendary comics Laurel and Hardy.

Little Oliver Johnson didn’t get himself into another nice mess when he competed in the 16th annual Kneesy, Earsy, Nosey World Cup.

Oliver Johnson from Chapeltown who was highly placed in the World Kneesy Earsy Nosey competition

Oliver Johnson from Chapeltown who was highly placed in the World Kneesy Earsy Nosey competition

Rather, the nine-year-old beat 16 rivals from across Europe in the contest which sees entrants attempt a slapstick routine invented by the early Hollywood heavyweights.

The competitor who performs the skit – which requires a fiendishly difficult touching of knees, ears and nose – with the most style and pace wins.

“Were we happy?” ponders the youngster’s dad, Mark. “We picked him up and carried him round the room singing ‘Champion’.

“I had a smile as wide as Norfolk Row.”

For those wondering...what?...allow us to explain.

Each year the Laurel and Hardy appreciation society – called Sons of The Desert after the duo’s most famous movie – hold a special day in Wigan.

It celebrates the life of the duo, who starred in 107 films together, and usually sees more than 100 fans turn up from across Europe, including an annual contingent from the Sheffield branch.

And, on the day, the Kneesy Earsy Nosey World Championship takes place, featuring competitors trying to enact the routine first performed by Laurel in 1933 comedy Fra Diavolo.

“It’s just a bit of fun,” says Mark, who lives with wife bev and Oliver in Cowley Lane, Chapeltown.

“There are four judges and they can disqualify you for anything from trying too hard to not trying hard enough but there is a competitive edge.

“Everyone definitely wants to win the trophy.

“What we’re most proud about is that it’s an open age competition and this is only the second time it’s ever been won by a child.”

The first time, incidentally, was last year by another Sheffield youngster.

Then 10-year-old John Burton, a Handsworth Grange School pupil, took the title.

“He was the first person to ever win it from Sheffield so now, for the city to win twice on the trot, is fantastic,” says Mark, who is treasurer of the city’s appreciation society.

And the lad himself is pretty pleased with his award too.

“I’ve been showing it at my school,” says Oliver, a pupil at Coit Primary School.

“I love Laurel and Hardy. They’re my favourites so I’m so pleased I won.”