The New Year Ba' (see here for explanation) was played on 2 January since we don't play on Sundays.
The day was lovely as we walked down the hill and passed St Magnus Cathedral in the dawn light (a little after midday(!), since at this time of year we have basically 3 hours of sunrise light followed by 3 hours of sunset light).
The crowd was gathering for the event, for which the throw-in happens at 1pm
The teams stood by, mentally preparing for the battle ahead. Note the duct-taped trousers and steel-capped boots. The crush can be terrific. These are the Uppies; their task will be to get the ball up the hill.
And here come the Doonies. Their task is the opposite: to get the ball down to the water.
The players gather for the throw-in.
I caught the ball in mid-air at the throw-in. This is usually the last time you see the ball, which disappears into the scrum, until one side or the other wins.
And battle began, going down Albert Street, our main shopping street, (ie the Doonies were pushing their way to the port). Note that there is no separation between players and viewers; one needs to be ready to make a rush to safety if, as frequently can happen, the scrum suddenly makes a rapid shift.
The game lasts until it is won. Some players come out of it a for a very civilised little smoke break
Others just look shattered
But so would you, if you were in the middle of this. The ba' is obviously right at the heart of this scrum.
We were a bit unsporting and left before the end of the game, something which is as permissible as taking smoke breaks.
As we made our way out, I took this shot of my favourite Orkney café, unchanged for half a century at least, unlike the modern Twenty One in one of the shots above. (There is a strange reason for the use of the word Pomona: see here)
Following which, we walked back up to the car by the light of the now setting sun. Here is one of the posh houses on Dundas Crescent
and a church a little further up the hill
All the best for 2023 to everyone who read this far!