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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 December 2004, 08:16 GMT
Bearded duo win by a close shave
Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff
Hirsutes you, sir - Flintoff "makes beards cool"
Cricketer Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff and union leader Paul Mackney have shared the coveted Beard of the Year 2004 title after a close shave.

The Beard Liberation Front declared a tie between England star Flintoff and Mr Mackney, leader of lecturers' union NATFHE, after a close-run poll.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, won the Organic Beard title for the most natural-looking growth.

The BLF is an "informal network" of beard wearers.

Freddie's been recognised by beard wearers for the work he's done for the style agenda
BLF organiser Keith Flett
BLF organiser Keith Flett, who has a flowing grey-tinged beard, said: "It has been both an exhilarating and a difficult year for beard wearers."

He praised Flintoff for "demonstrating how cool beards could be".

"Freddie's been recognised by beard wearers for the work he's done for the style agenda," he said.

Mr Mackney had been a "vociferous defender of the hirsute".

"Also, I think everyone loves a lecturer with a beard," he added.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams
The Archbishop of Canterbury's 'organic beard' won plaudits

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett, considered a strong contender before votes were cast, missed out on the honours.

"In 2004, a sympathy vote for Mr Blunkett was not enough to see him take the title," said Mr Flett.

BLF's past winners include new Home Secretary Charles Clarke, former health secretary Frank Dobson, Toby Harris, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, and ex-Commons leader Robin Cook.

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