After I posted the wonderful Clayhanger tug of war image here at the weekend kindly shared by Brian Stringer, I received many responses from readers across a range of media – this one clearly got memories flowing and I’ll feature a few of those responses in the coming days.
One that most piqued my curiosity was this particular boster from old friend of the blog and at the moment retired football correspondent Bill Shaw, who points out that this wasn’t the first tug of war involving the Clangers:
Seeing the photograph from Brian Stringer about the tug of war across the canal I think that Clanger pinched the idea from Pelsall.
About 1970, or it could have been a few years earlier I was involved on the committee of Clayhanger Working Men’s Club and somehow I got roped in [Geddit? – Bob] for the tug of war competition being held at the Free Trade Inn at Pelsall one bank holiday Monday.
As per usual the Clanger people turned up in force to cheer us on, our first ‘pull’ saw us straining to move the opposition, all to no avail, on their side the bank dropped away and at the bottom of the bank was a tree to which the cheating cretins had tied their end of the rope.
I was halfway along the rope at 4 or 5 (quite safe you would think) but after a few minutes of trying to pull up a tree the power houses at the front of the line decided that they’d had enough and let go of the rope, quickly followed by everyone behind me on the rope. Now I must have been trying really hard with my eyes tightly shut so didn’t notice our capitulation.
You would have thought that I would have just slid slowly into the canal, but remember everyone this is Bill Shaw – the rope whiplashed and I went about 8 to 10 feet in the air, flew over the heads of my beaten team mates and still holding tightly on to the rope landed gracefully in the middle of the canal, much to the delight of all the spectators, which incidentally included my mom and dad.
The water was freezing and with none of us expecting to go swimming I didn’t have any dry clothing so it was a wet journey home.
As everyone has seen from Brian’s books there was an amazing community spirit in Clanger and we’d try anything once, me, I never went near another tug of war contest or the canal again.
Great days, it was about that time that when I did the bingo one night in the club someone was heard to say ‘Yo can tell he’s bin edificated car ya!’ I might have been, but I was never taught to fly and I mastered that – once, even though it was no more than 8 – 10 feet.
Cheers to Bill for an excellent recollection, and my very best wishes to him for the oncoming football season and his health in general. Contributions like this are invaluable – thanks for each and every one.
If you can add anything to this story, please do: either comment on this post or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.