Tuesday 25 October 2016

Townies face off in ancient hand ba' contest

Published 11/02/2016 | 19:21

Boys tussle for the leather ball during the hand ba' event
Boys tussle for the leather ball during the hand ba' event |
A man suffers a bloodied nose after taking part in the event

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Jedburgh for the traditional hand ba' match.

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The annual event, which started in the 1700's, involves two teams, the Uppies and the Doonies - divided by those who live north and south of the town's Mercat Cross.

The aim is to carry a leather ball to a "goal" at either end of the town.

Many Borders towns play a version of the game with the event in Jedburgh held on the Thursday after Shrove Tuesday and known as "Jethart Handba".

The ball is made of leather, stuffed with straw and decorated with ribbons and is thrown into a crowd to begin the annual game.

It is then handled through the streets and can be hidden in clothing or thrown for someone to catch and run with.

The ba' can also move up alleys, gardens and streets with t he Uppies pushing towards the town's castle and the Doonies trying to force it towards the Jedwater.

Injuries are common and with hundreds of people taking part and fighting for a grip of the ball many shopkeepers board up their windows to avoid damage.

An exhibition celebrating the historic ba' games and links with a similar event in France opened in Jedburgh this week, titled "Fraternity: Fellowship of the Ba'".

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