Organisers of a Charity Tug O’ War are confident their event will continue to grow as an important element of the Albany International Folk ‘n’ Shanty Festival for years to come. For the second year running, the Albany Shantymen threw down the gauntlet to a Bunbury-based shanty group to face off on the sands of Albany Marina in a gruelling battle of strength and endurance. Last year the Shantymen fell short against the Anchormen from Bunbury, but on Sunday they outlasted the Castaway Shantymen to restore a sense of pride. The two groups looked evenly matched for more than a minute before cracks started to show in the resistance of the Castaway crew, who were dressed as ballerinas for the occasion. The Shantymen, looking rough and ragged in Ned Kelly-inspired garb, hauled their way to victory, which was welcomed by a loud cheer from the vocal local supporters. Albany Shantymen’s Gary Greenwald said a lot of the Bunbury crew had taken part last year, so it was good to get the win in a close contest because “we felt like we hadn’t given it our best last year”. Before the contest started, a number of Castaway team members were called upon to remove illegal footwear after trying to gain an advantage by wearing studded boots. The Shantymen got the crowd going with boos for the Bunbury baddies. “I think as pantomime baddies go, the Bunbury lads are as good as any,” he said. “You have to watch those lads from Bunbury because they’ll cheat at every opportunity.” The event’s second year also saw an open invite sent out to other local groups to settle their friendly rivalries on the sand to help raise money for Telethon. Local police and volunteer firemen split their two contests one apiece, Albany Roller Derby proved too strong for an assorted crew of local sportswomen and the Shantylillies of Albany overcame the She Shants of Fremantle. Mr Greenwald, who also co-ordinated the event, said it had already become a fantastic part of the festival and that getting the local community involved had been a “win-win”. He said each of the four heats was scheduled for 30 minutes but were done within 15, meaning next year they can fit more groups in “which means more money for charity and more fun for people in the community”. “The message from me is that if there are groups that look at this and think it’s great and have a local rival they want to challenge, then look out for it next year,” he said. He also praised the work of young commentators Tugger McGuinniss and Hopper Riley and (aka Hardy Croucher and Aiden Greenwald) for “hilariously” keeping the crowd entertained in between contests. “The two characters they played were two personas that grew out of a conversation over dinner,” Mr Greenwald said. Money raised for Telethon by rattling tins at the event is still to be counted, but Mr Greenwald is confident they have surpassed last year’s total of about $1500. “All I can say is that the tins feel very heavy, and looking through the little spy holes into the tins it looks like there is lots of paper money in there as well,” he said.