In England's First Tree of the Year competition Old Knobbley came second place missing the top title by just 465 votes.
The winner was the Major Oak of Robin Hood fame.
Loyal supporters of Old Knobbley have asked on Old Knobbley's facebook page that the Major Oak undergo a drugs test claiming that the Nottinghamshire tree has been using unnatural substances for years.
Old Knobbley quickly came to his distant cousin's defence saying in his deep slow voice “My old friend, that you know as the Major Oak, has in his past struggled with humans filling his trunk with concrete, cladding branches with lead and then fibre-glass all in an effort to help and support. But now the humans know better and are helping to wean my dear cousin off these unnatural substances. The Major Oak can hardly be blamed for their use.”
Other Old Knobbley fans in a letter to the East Anglian Daily Times have cited the fact that Old Knobbley does not have a USP as his failure to win the competition, implying that he needed to be linked to historical figures to be taken seriously in a competition featuring such culturally significant trees as Robin Hood's Oak or Newton's Apple.
Old Knobbley's biographer, Morag Embleton, spent a long time explaining unique selling points to Old Knobbley and after pause of a day or two Old Knobbley said “I don't understand this need for fame. Many trees have succumbed to it. There are many Apple trees that claim to have inspired Newton and as for Robin Hood? Whether he did indeed live will remain a secret amongst us trees. If the Major Oak isn't going to tell, then neither will I. If you need stories of me and Boudicca or the Witch Finder General then please find them or create them (although the Boudicca line will be a bit of a stretch – I'm told I look good for my age but I'm not 2000 years old!).
“I prefer that I am loved for being me, a tree that has been growing here in Mistley for 800 or so years (possibly longer, I can't remember). I knew your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, I could go on... I have worked for many hundreds of years to provide timber for your houses, boats and fireplaces. There may be a bit of me still in the local houses or churches. I'm sure you clever folk could do a DNA test to find out. I have provided many homes for other species often sacrificing my leaves and acorns to keep insects, birds and other animals alive. You would not believe what wood boring larvae and fungal mycelium are doing to me! Many of the younger trees in this wood and beyond are my children, all of us taking in your carbon dioxide and giving you oxygen to breathe.
Perhaps coming runner up is a blessing. I would hate for the visitors to me to increase so much that Mistley Parish Council had to worry about the compaction to my roots (that's a big tree killer you know) and then to fence me away from my friends with visiting hours for hugs limited to just one day a year with no chance of tree climbing as has happened to the poor Major Oak. No, the Major Oak can keep his fame if that is what fame does to a tree. I 'll take free 24/7 hugs and careful climbers over winning a competition any day.
I am very happy that my friends thought so kindly of me that I came a pretty close second in this competition. I understand that people put up posters and geocaches and did all sorts of things to support me. Thank you all. It warms my heartwood to know that I hold a special place in your hearts.”
Old Knobbley would like to thank John Lungley, Marian Hill, Sarah Tonks, Susan Anderson, John Bradley, Gerry Donlon and Sue Mackie as he is aware that they worked particularly hard to promote Old Knobbley in this competition..