Huge crowds but complaints at 'farcical' Knaresborough Tug of War

Let battle commence! Knaresborough Tug of War. (1612262AM12)
Let battle commence! Knaresborough Tug of War. (1612262AM12)

Boxing Day’s Great Knaresborough Tug of War was the most troublesome for years - but it did happen and it happened on the correct day

With no repeat of last year’s terrible flooding round the river Nidd in Knaresborough, there was no need to postpone what was the 49th edition of this traditional festive event.

Chief Tug of War organiser Simon Shaw with The Mayor and Mayoress of Knaresborough Coun Bill Rigby and Shan Oakes. (1612262AM11)

Chief Tug of War organiser Simon Shaw with The Mayor and Mayoress of Knaresborough Coun Bill Rigby and Shan Oakes. (1612262AM11)

As always, this long-standing battle of the pub teams between Mother Shipton Inn and The Half Moon Free House attracted huge crowds to the waterside near the Low Bridge.

It was clearly one of its biggest attendances for many years with some people saying close to 1,000 people were watching - at first.

But there were complaints this year after the event failed to start at noon and it was plagued by various organisational issues.

Click here to spot yourself at the Knaresborough Tug of War
Organiser Simon Shaw explained: “I’ve got a major health complaint and I was sick all day on Christmas Day. “It was a challenging situation but you have to battle on and the event has to go ahead no matter what.

“We didn’t start until 12.45pm. There were 800 to 900 people early on but I estimate about a third of the crowd left before the contest began.

“We tried to make the teams more community-based this year but some people still expected teams of big burly men.

“But teams in the past could be to heaby, which is dangerous.

“The first pull was illegal and had to be cancelled. There were problems with the second pull.

“One team had the wrong number of members at one point and another was too heavy.

“Then there was confusion over who won.

“But the event happened and local pubs benefitted.

“Most of all, money was raised successfully to help Yorkshire Cancer Research and the RNLI.

“I’d also like to thank the sponsors, Yorkshire Tea.”

But readers took to this newspaper’s Facebook page to voice their complaints.

Sarah Hemingway posted: “Complete disaster! Shame because it could have been brilliant! Uneven teams and badly organised.”

And Dan Carter posted: “Aas there and must say what a farce! Won’t be going next year!”

Damian Field posted: “I was there for the first battle, after watching both the teams get frustrated with having to wait, and...decided to walk home to warm up.”

It is believed the Half Moon mixed team was the winner of this year’s tug of war.

Thankfully, unlike some previous years, no competitors ended up being pulled into the Nidd!