Tug-of-war club marks 70 years of competition with event in Wrington
PUBLISHED: 12:08 02 June 2017
Most people when they hear the words 'tug-of-war competition' will picture a British summer fete and a few mates having a laugh thinking they are good enough to enter World's Strongest Man.
However, North Somerset is home to one of the most successful and longest-running tug-of-war clubs and on Saturday and Sunday held a competition in Wrington to mark its 70th anniversary.
Felton Eccles Tug-of-War Club attracts members not only from North Somerset, but from Sedgemoor, Devon and even Berkshire and its team is so good that it regularly contributes to the national side.
Kate Lippiatt, whose husband Mark pulls for the club and lives in Wrington, said: “There are 15 pullers and they make up eight teams, depending on weight. There are various weight categories and they can pull in different categories so long as they don’t exceed the overall weight.”
The members are aged 16-60 and their success does not come without putting the hard yards in.
Kate said: “They train twice a week and most weekends there is a tug-of-war event. Because there aren’t many clubs they travel quite a long way each Sunday.”
There are 44 tug-of-war clubs in the UK, according to its national association, but the sport used to be a much more popular pastime.
Great Britain after all are the reigning Olympic tug-of-war champions, albeit the event has not appeared at the games since Antwerp in 1920. A British team from the City of London Police Club in fact won gold eight years earlier in its home city.
But in recent years the sport’s popularity has dwindled, which Kate says makes the Eccles’ anniversary all the more special.
She said: “There used to be one (club) in every other village and there were teams all over the country, but now we have one member who drives all the way from Devon.”
The anniversary games were held at Wrington Sports and Social Club in Silver Street on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
In total, 37 10-strong teams entered, including clubs from Ireland and the Netherlands who flew into Bristol Airport on Friday night.