Case Study: The Ba’ Games

The Ba' Games

Every Christmas Day and Hogmanay the Ba takes place, sometimes referred to as the Ba’ Game, it is a game where the men of Orkney divide into teams that compete against one another, in what is effectively a giant rugby scrum.

These teams are referred to as the ‘Uppies’ and the ‘Doonieswho need to get the Ba’ (handmade leather ball) to historical pre-defined goals. As mentioned, the game was for the men of Orkney, that was until 1945 when the women of Orkney demanded their own Ba’ game, thus the first ever women’s Ba’ went ahead on Christmas day of that year.

The winner was Barbara Yule (An Uppie), not long after her victory she moved to London where she met her husband, John Clitherow.

Unfortunately, Barbara passed away in 1999 but it was her wish that her Ba’ should return to Orkney, and so it did albeit under sad circumstances, with her husband John.

He presented it to the Orkney Museum where it now stands proud among Ba’s from past winners for all museum visitors to see, but it is unique in telling the story of Orkney’s first women’s Ba. 

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