Today is 3 January. It was a stormy end of year with lots of ferry cancellations,and the weather has been bad again since yesterday, with ferry cancellations once again. Two conclusions are possible: either the weather actually is rough or else this woke era has led to greater risk aversion and 'elf-n-sighftee considerations.
That said, God gifted us a totally beautiful, sunny and practically windless New Year's Day. Very nice for the Ba'.
This year the wait for the Ba' to start was enlivened by the presence of an irritating madman who has been showing off his psychosis around the town in the last few days. Here he is.
He was throwing a plank about and generally being annoying and slightly menacing. The police came and had a word with him, but did not take him away.
This was a typically pointless exercise, since as soon as they were gone, he decided to continue being a pain in the arse and lay down in the middle of the road.
He stopped being a bore though shortly after that. I think this was because he was taken discretely into a back alley for some truly harsh words and quite probably more than that from some real people.
The light was lovely as we stood opposite the town hall waiting for the game to start (at 1pm on the dot).
The sun only rises to 8º above the horizon at this time of year, so the illumination is truly magnificent.
At last the teams arrived. The Uppies make their appearance from Albert Street.
And the Doonies from Victoria Street
We took Oksana, our Ukrainian doctor friend to see her first Ba'. She loved it. (Also, she was stunned by the fact that there was no police presence or crowd control at what is essentially a riot carried out as a form of family fun. (That is except for the three minutes of pointless and flabby management of the madman before the Ba' started.)
One o'clock came and the ba' was thrown in. I caught it mid-air:
This is usually the last time you see it until the game is is over 3,4,5,6 hours later, and the game has been won.
From this moment on, the ba' is simply lost in the scrum
Here are some shots taken during the game.
Getting one's breath back after a crushing
One can tell where the ba' is by looking for the column of steam rising from the centre of the scrum
There was some tricky play this year when the ba's was passed up to some players who had climbed over a fence
Some snapshot of the play:
The Uppies won.
PS: Arthur had a distinctive advantage as a spectator, being a good head taller than most of us onlookers
Useful links if you want to know more:
Washington Post Tradition: Why We Compete
Wikipedia Kirkwall Ba' Game
Orkneyjar The Kirkwall Ba' Game