This is the first “World” Championship of which we have any knowledge and may in fact have been the first claimed as such. It was organised by theatrical impresario J.H. Wood, perhaps as a vehicle to pit two well-known clog dancers of the day – Tom Ward and Tom Robson – against each other. In the event the competition produced a surprise result!
The competition was held at the Princess’ Theatre, Leeds, commencing on the 17th May 1880 with surprisingly little hype in the theatrical press. The competition was arranged in heats with the winners going through to the next round. All four heat winners danced on Friday 21st with the two best place dancers performing again on the 22nd. Winners in bold below:
Monday 17th May: Jess Juba and Tom Ward.
Tuesday 18th May: Dan Leno and F. Doyle of Leeds.
Wednesday 19th May: Joe Lowe of Scotland and Tom Robson.
Thursday 20th May: St George and Clancey.
Friday 21st May: Tom Ward, Dan Leno, Tom Robson and St George.
Saturday 22nd May: Tom Ward and Dan Leno
The result was:
1st: Dan Leno
2nd: Tom Ward
3rd: St George
4th: Tom Robson
The judges were John Carroll, Ben Ray, Dave Hurley and Tom Callaghan. Referee J.C. Marshall.