28th February 2020

In_pictures In pictures: Jedburgh’s ba’ game battles

In_pictures In pictures: Jedburgh’s ba’ game battles

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A Scottish Borders town has once again been staging its centuries-old street sporting battle.

The Jedburgh ba’ game is thought to have existed in its current form for about 300 years.

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Two teams – the Uppies and the Doonies – gather at the town’s Mercat Cross to try to get a leather ball to the top or bottom end of the playing area.

Proceedings get under way with the hurling of the ribboned ball towards a ruck of the two teams.

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Some historic ball games around Britain have died out because of the damage they caused to property and disruption to traffic.

However, Jedburgh maintains its tradition – usually on the first Thursday after Shrove Tuesday.

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Only about 15 similar games are still played across the UK but it is thought there used to be more than 200.

The first record of the Jedburgh event dates back to 1704 with the only break believed to be in 1901 when it clashed with Queen Victoria’s funeral.

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The boys’ or callants’ game takes place first before the men’s game later in the day with the teams representing those from opposite sides of the Mercat Cross.

The Uppies try to take the ball towards the town’s castle and the Doonies try to carry it towards the Jedwater.

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Games often run on late into the evening as the teams make their way up and down the centre of town.

Many nearby shops put boards across their windows in order to avoid any damage during the encounters.

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Dougie Johnston

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in_pictures Jedburgh hand ba'Image copyright
Dougie Johnston

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