In Pictures: Uppies take on Doonies in bruising ancient ball game

The game of Hand Ba’ is played yearly in the Scottish Borders town of Jedburgh.

Press Association
Last updated: 7 February 2019 - 7.10pm

An annual traditional game with a macabre beginning has once again brought the streets of Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders to a standstill.

Fastern’s E’en Hand Ba’ is played with leather balls decorated with a tail of ribbons between two teams divided on where in the town they live – the Uppies v the Doonies.

It has moved on from its gruesome beginnings, where instead of a ball the villagers were said to have tossed the head of an Englishman through the streets. The ribbons are said to represent the long hair of the original “ball” in medieval times.

Jedburgh Hand Ba event
Tussling for the ball can be brutal at times (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
Two areas of the town are designated as goals, with much running and scrummaging in between (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
Boys help each other off the ground after one tussle (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
Each ball has ribbons attached to represent the hair on the original human head used (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
At least 10 are used throughout the day (Andrew Milliga/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
Lois Porterfield throws one of them in during the competition (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
Shops are boarded up to avoid any broken glass (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
Butcher Bill Liddle was well prepared (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
But the Sheriff Court House didn’t escape unscathed (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
There was little regard for spectators who got too close to the players (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
Or for cars parked close to the course (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
The young people of Jedburgh will be nursing some bruises tonight (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Jedburgh Hand Ba event
But are bound to be out again for the festivities next year (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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