Yarmouth strongmen feel the tug again

PUBLISHED: 16:02 23 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:44 03 July 2010

Tug of war at Hedenham Mermaid pub

Tug of war at Hedenham Mermaid pub

IT used to be an Olympic sport, and was a regular entertainment at village fetes and carnivals in the 1970s - and nearly every village had its own proud team.

IT used to be an Olympic sport, and was a regular entertainment at village fetes and carnivals in the 1970s - and nearly every village had its own proud team.

But in the 1980s, the popularity of the tug of war competition had gone the same way as the steam rally, and its glory faded.

Now though, there is a resurgence, and Great Yarmouth is to host the annual Inter Counties competition, organised by the Tug of War Federeation of Great Britain, and it's a dream come true for its Yarmouth chairman, David Ling.

“The sport used to be an Olympic sport,” explained David, 58, who lives in Southtown. “And there are moves to get it back in there again.”

He's been tugging and heaving for more years than he would care to remember but started out pulling for the Lichfield Arms team in yarmouth at a time when villages and pubs had their owns teams and would take part in competitions around the circuit.

David then joined the successful Reedham team for five years, which had in 1970s, won the Inter Counties competition until it too found itself short of members. Now he travels to Wootton near Bungay to coach and train a team, as well as judging all over the UK and in Europe, where in Holland the sport is huge.

The sport comes back to Yarmouth on May Bank Holiday Sunday, May 24 at Broadland & Yarmouth RFC's ground in Cobholm, and it promises to be a fun-filled day with teams travelling from Staffordshire, Buckinghamshire, Derbyshire, Sussex and Yorkshire to compete.

But David is sad Norfolk won't be represented.

Tug of war isn't a case of pitting a group of people against another group and each getting old of a rope and tugging like mad. It's an art and a technical sport and there are strict guidelines in place to ensure fair play.

For instance, there are seven different weights for the men pullers and two weights for the four men and four women teams, similar to boxing categories.

“The most important parts of the body are the hands and legs, not the upper body as the layman might expect. You need the strength in your legs and grip,” explained David.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the Tug of War Federation of Great Britain and it is hoped the competition in Yarmouth will result in more teams being formed - especially in Norfolk.

As well as the action-packed contests, there will be refreshments and a licensed bar.

Anyone interested in forming a team, or wanting more details, can contact David on 01493 300223, log on to or

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