Over the years on the blog we’ve covered the great, and often surprisingly diverse sporting history of Brownhills and Walsall Wood – from the notable local teams like Walsall Wood Football Club, Cricket, Bowls – to more esoteric stuff like the past pursuit of pedestrianism, trotting, the Brownhills races and we discovered in the early days of the blog, that Walsall Wood in particular the Brickmakers Arms – had a Tug of War link.
You can read more about that at this link here, where blog contributor Peter found the Tug of War practice frame at the Brickmakers and we explored what is war, to a full explanation in this post here. And then, there was the infamous Clayhanger Tug of War over the cut from Brian Stringer which saw a few likely lads go home with newts in their Y fronts, which had a more serious historic precedent in the Wood here.
Well, thanks to old pal of the blog Janey Hatfield and roving reporter David Evans, I can share with you that Walsall Wood still has a very successful Champion Tug of War team that are actively looking for members!
It’s also worth pointing out that Janey’s excellent and entertaining Walsall Wood Group of Facebook is still growing and one of my favourite groups, well moderated and a joy to read. You can join up here.
With the Ironman event on at Chasewater this weekend, this might be a good sport for those fit folk who might be up for it.
Without further ado, I’ll let Janey and David explain…
Walsall Wood rejoices in the number of local pubs which, over the years have been the centre of some interesting sports and pastimes. The Horse and Jockey pub, in Walsall Road, was once home to both the local cricket and football clubs. The ‘Jockey Fields’ behind the pub also hosted important Black Country-wide whippet races. Local village fetes and travelling fairs were held there. But with the passing of time the cricket club moved to a new ground behind the church, after the war the football club having moved to its present-day location, in OakPark in the pre-war years
In a large tent behind The Black Cock inn, in Bullings Heath by the canal were once held bare-knuckle fist fights, as witnessed by a young Dolly Anslow in the late 1920s and recalled many years later in conversation.
The Working Mens Club in Lichfield Road like many clubs had its own bowling green. The Labour Club in Salters Road had a successful air rifle club. Both clubs, and their sporting heritage has been lost, sadly
But, sometimes, just sometimes, a bright jewel in local sporting history reveals itself.
The Brickmakers Arms Pub, in Salters Road is host to a Tug of War team that was founded in the 1970s by a well-known local lad, Roger José and his friends, and competed against other local teams.
Time went by and a new team was formed, this time by Roger’s son Shaun and friends in 1987 and is still going but sadly requires more members.
Recently I was delighted to meet Roger’s son, Shaun, to learn of the present-day team, that practises every Wednesday evening at at 7.30 sharp, in their training facility at the Brickmakers Arms Pub. Here I was to have the intricacies and thrills of this very old field sport explained… And to learn that the sport dates back many years.
Indeed, in the 1920 Olympic Games, Great Britain won the gold medal, which it still holds to this day due to the fact it was withdrawn as a Olympic sport.
Tug Of war ruling was originally 8 people per team who had to weigh into a specific weight amongst them and would have their legs stamped to prove this (Not branded with a hot iron!) But due to a fall in numbers of participants The Tug Of War Federation adopted a New 6 aside rule just 4-5 years back to maintain the sport and keep it going, and also introduced a Round-Robin which enabled Grass-Roots pulling to get off the ground.
From training over The Fox-Covey in Walsall Wood with other local names Mick Evans and John Dukes, Roger José and son Shaun have made sure this sport has never faded away, and Shaun feels very fortunate to have pulled in a National Catch-weight Final in the same team as His Dad in 1994 and also with His Daughter in A World Final of Mixed pulling in 2007.
Pulling in The Wood is a family tradition. Images Kindly supplied by Janey Hatfield and David Evans.
Today, the LCS Tug of War team, a sort of Last Chance Saloon club, meet weekly on Wednesday evenings around 7pm at the Brickmakers Arms pub in Salters Road, to train and use the contraption that has been bought up in conversations before with people questioning what it is. It’s a very unique pulling system consisting of different weights to pull along with a track to dig their heels into, and as Shaun states….’They Like To Start Em Young!’
The team of past and present members can boast to have pulled for England in World and European competitions in many destinations over the years.
If anyone is interested in joining, Shaun extends the invitation to men and women to enjoy this wonderful field sport where the legal age requirement is 14… The team are the current national champions in mixed pulling.
Shaun has asked that interested readers contact him directly, his phone number is 07974058140.
We would like to thank Shaun for taking the time to tell us about this fascinating sport and the ongoing successful local connection. I can heartily recommend it to anyone who would like to join the club .
David & Janey June 2018