Learning the ropes with one of world's top tug-of-war teams

Being put through the paces with the world-title winning Ayrshire Tug of War Club.

It’s fair to say in this job, covering world champions and Scottish success stories is the bread and butter, whether it’s football, rugby, golf or athletics, etc.

But if you’d have told me I’d be heading off to a farm house in Ayrshire and roped into tug of war – I never would have believed you.

But after Ayrshire Tug of War Club returned from Northern Ireland with not one but two gold medals at the World Championships, there I was, heading to meet them.

Turning up at the farm in Lochwinnoch, you’d have never have guessed this was home to arguably the country’s most successful sport.

A converted storage unit, draped in medals and trophies, with a fully kitted out tug-of-war set-up awaited us.

And first to greet us through the door was the larger-than-life coach of Ayrshire Tug of War, Bob Warnock. Think of him as the Mr Miyagi of the sport, a former world champion himself passing on his wisdom to the next generation.

Speaking about their success, Warnock said: “We are delighted with the result we got to be honest, we’ve managed to pull in world championships.

“We have a very young squad here, there’s some in the team who are fairly new to the set-up, so to come away with two gold medals was fantastic.

“It’s been the culmination of a long season for the team, we started training October/November time right all the way through the winter to the championships in March.

“Scotland as a country has a fantastic history with tug of war and the dominance really started about 1999 when we won our first international title and since then we’ve been the top nation at the championships.”

Now I’ll let you in on a secret folks, this sport reporter doesn’t frequent the gym often and, by “often”, I mean ever.

So when Bob and the guys asked me to get involved, of course I was apprehensive – but I threw caution to the wind, donned an old Ayrshire top, chalked my hands and got tugging.

Now if you’re expecting to read on and hear of me discovering some hidden talent for the sport, let me stop you there.

No sooner did I firmly grip the rope and Bob shout ‘GO!’ did I get shot so far forward there was almost a Ronnie Charters-shaped hole in their farm house.

The term ‘it’s a lot harder than it looks’ was invented for this sport.

The key (according to Bob) is to push with your feet, not pull with your hands, (and Bob if you’re reading this and that is wrong I deeply apologise, my friend).

The strain on your hands, the pressure on your back, the pain all over as you try with all your might to tug this thing as hard as you can.

My hat certainly goes off to the Ayrshire Tug of War team and all who play the sport, this is no playground pastime, this is a proper physical sport, that we Scots have become almost unbeatable at.

In total, more than 16 gold medals have gone Scotland’s way, and that is remarkable.

If at any other sport we produced that level of success, it would have funding thrown at it and everyone encouraged to take it up.

But what I also got from the guys there, is a real sense of togetherness, of family.

The bond the group have is clear for everyone to see, even we felt it and were only there for an hour or so.

This is a group who take this sport seriously and are darn good at it as well.

To the Ayrshire Tug of War, I say thank you for putting up with me and congrats again on all your success, and to everyone reading this who thinks Tug of War is easy and child’s play… go visit the farmhouse in Lochwinnoch.

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