Derryogue Tug of War team came about as much by accident as by any other acts. It was initially the brainchild of Robert Campbell of Cromleck, Kilkeel. Founder members were Robert Campbell, Eddie McKee, Frankey Newell, Robert Newell, George Graham,James Stevenson, Billy Hanna, Fred McKee, Bertie Hanna and Jimmy Annett. A local competition had been organised for lodges in the area at which a Tug of War competition was being held. There weren't many teams but Robert Campbell managed to gather up a few of the local lads who were standing watching, some of whom had just come from playing football and were still in their kit. Most of the boys came from the townland of Derryogue and it was decided amongst everyone that that was what the team was going to be called.
Many of those present had never lifted a tug of war rope in their lives, never mind having pulled in the sport as was obvious for all to see on that fateful day. The team were pulled up and down the field in their first competition. Robert was made of sterner stuff and vowed that that would never happen again to the Derryogue boys and said, "we'll do a bit of training". A training facility was set up by Robert at his home and so began the Derryogue tug of war team in ernest.
A number of new men arrived to train and before long the team were winning competitions in the local area. The competitions were always being watched by large numbers of spectators with literally hundreds of people standing around to watch local teams pit themselves one against the other. The dominent team in the area at the time was the "Halfway House". Derryogue had some terrific pulls against them and eventually became the dominant force in the area.
It was decided that we should join the Northern Ireland Tug of War Association and again Robert was to the fore. We were soon up against the big teams from Ballyhegan, Richhill, Garvagh etc and found that at that time we were quite close to their skill levels, winning some pulls and eventually the odd competition.
Derryogue had some exceptional pullers at this time, some of whom were picked to represent Northern Ireland at European and World levels. Representative teams were picked from all of the teams at this time. The training at that time was totally different from what takes place now. We did no fitness training, just barrel work with as much weight as we could manage for as long and as often as we possibly could. If the old team had trained as hard and with as much intensity as the teams do now, Derryogue could have been a real force to be reckoned with in World Tug of War.
Members of the team made many lasting friendships in the field of Tug of War not only at local level but further afield, many of which are re newed every so often at local competitions. No one did more for Tug of War than Cathal McKeever who has been Chairman of the local Association for a long number of years but also President of the World body TWIF. He has always been held in high regard and respect by those who have made his aquaintance.
Piece supplied by Jimmy Annett.
After the early years the team managed to represent at 680kgs and then eventually at 640kgs digging out some great results considering that many of the opposing teams were better trained. In these interviening years the team was trained by Jimmy Annett who was also a puller at the time. Jimmy has retired along with many of the "old hands" who still appear at competitions and offer their valued support to the team of to day. After Jimmy stood down, Tommy Kennedy who had been the Richhill coach for a number of years came to Derryogue and became the trainer. A new standard of training ensued and before long we were happy to have won a silver medal and two bronze medals in the 600kg class at the UK Championships.
Tommy retired and Harold Donaldson took the rains for a time and once again as a puller, he had a serious passion for the sport of Tug of War. After a time the team disolved and was dormant for about five years before some of the local lads decided once again to resurrect the famous team from Derryogue. Roy Glenny and Eddie Shannon looked to the experience of Aidrian Glenny for guidance and began to build the new team from scratch. There was a belief that it might take 5 years to re build the team and even at that stage they would be lucky to become a creditable side at 600 or 560kgs.
In the first year they won none of the Championships but surprisingly did win some competitions. In the following months the desire and passion had returned to the team and the training became serious with everyone wanting to win. The year was a success with derryogue going on to win four of the five outdood championships. Following the local success they represented at UK level and took a bronze medal at 600kgs won the 600kg open event and another bronze medal at 640kgs.
Success breads sucess and the passion and attitude shown by the members of this young team are a credit to them and the area they come from. It is certain that if they stick together they will once again be a team like their forebears and be hard to beat when the rope "takes the strain".
Piece supplied by Aidrian Glenny
Anyone wishing to get more information on the club or to make contact with the team should do so either personally or via the NITOWA web site