Jedburgh hand ba’ well under way, but end not yet at hand

Boys vying to get hold of the ba' in Jedburgh this afternoon.
Boys vying to get hold of the ba' in Jedburgh this afternoon.

Jedburgh’s annual hand ba’ games are currently still in progress, but here are some snapshots of the action so far ahead of a full report on proceedings tomorrow.

The traditional games pit two teams selected on the basis of what half of the Borders town they live in, the uppies being born south of the market cross and the doonies north of it.

Plenty of rough and tumble, resulting in occasional bloodshed, is the order of the day.

Plenty of rough and tumble, resulting in occasional bloodshed, is the order of the day.

Play takes place in the town centre, starting in the Market Place with a game for boys, or callants, having got under way at noon, as seen on our Facebook page, and the men’s game following at 2pm, with both then running concurrently.

The uppies’ goal is outside the castle jail and the doonies’ is at the Pleasaunce, both a couple of hundred yards away from the starting point.

Several balls are thrown, and the games can last for hours, so the action is expected to continue for a while yet.

Legend has it that the first such game was played with an Englishman’s head, and the ribbons on the balls symbolise the hair of that unfortunate decapitation victim, but it is not known exactly when that was.

Youngsters fighting for the ba' on the streets of Jedburgh.

Youngsters fighting for the ba' on the streets of Jedburgh.

The long-standing event, pictured here by Ian Georgeson, is held on the first Thursday after Shrove Tuesday each year.

Ancrum’s annual hand ba’ game follows this Saturday, March 4, and Denholm’s next Monday, March 6, with a similar event taking place in Duns in July.

Further action from today's Jethart Hand Ba' day.

Further action from today's Jethart Hand Ba' day.

Action from yesterday's Jethart hand ba' day.

Action from yesterday's Jethart hand ba' day.