TALES FROM THE FIELDS: Plough problem for Ulster ploughmen

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It was reported during this week in 1968 that the chances of a Northern Ireland competitor winning the world ploughing championship when the match was held in Rhodesia between April 26 and 27 that year had been reduced through a Board of Trade ruling.

The board had announced the previous week that it would not permit Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies to export ploughs for use by competitors in the world match. The company had promised to lend its ploughs to competitors from Northern Ireland, England, Eire, Canada, New Zealand and Holland.

Although arrangements were being made to have two ploughs made available to the Northern Ireland team of Stanley Erwin of Nutts Corner and Tom Clyde of Ballyclare, they would be under the handicap of having to use unfamiliar equipment.

Mr Frank Espley, secretary of the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association, had anticipated the Board of Trade’s decision.

He had written to friends in Rhodesia and was fairly confident that ploughs would be available for the Northern Ireland entrants to use in the championships.

Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies said in a statement: “The board refused to grant a licence to export, even on a temporary basis for the period of the competition, when the ploughs would have been withdrawn.

“Competitors using Ransome ploughs won the first three awards in all classes at the British national competition, and Ransomes were expecting to enhance their world reputation at this match.

“If we are not allowed to export the competitors will obviously seek ploughs elsewhere – probably South Africa.”

The Northern Ireland team were expected to leave the province for Rhodesia on either April 18 or 19 and were to be accompanied by Lawrence McMillan, team manager, Bob Erwin, chairman of the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association, and chairman of Northern Ireland member of the World Ploughing Organisation TommyReid.