Jay Bathgate
Jay Bathgate

Socially distanced hand ba tradition lives on in Jedburgh

A rough and tumble tradition stretching back hundreds of years was maintained in Jedburgh today (Tuesday, February 2) – but in a socially distanced way.

By Paul Kelly
Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 5:29 pm

The Borders annual hand ba’ games pit two sides against each other, selected on the basis of which half of a town they live, with the uppies born south of the market against the doonies north of it.

The event is not for the faint-hearted and can result in occasional bloodshed.

This year, for obvious reasons, was very different.

But the tradition was maintained in a symbolic way when a handful gathered in Jedburgh Market Place at noon.

This year laddie Jay Bathgate did not play the ba’, he merely threw it in the air to mark the event, as four members of his family looked on.

Also there was Jethart Callant Club president Jim Steele and town historian Billy Gillies.

Mr Steele: “Fundamentally as Jethart Callants Club one of our objectives is to maintain the culture and the traditions of the town, and one of the key aspects of that is hand ba’, and whilst we want to keep those traditions we were certainly very conscious in recognising the problems and difficulties we have at this time with the Covid-19 pandemic. Hand ba’ has been going on in Jedburgh almost as long as history has been written, it’s been recorded back to the 16th century. The last time there wasn’t a full event in my understanding was when Queen Victoria died back in 1901.

"We kept everything socially distanced. One thing we did was sterilise the ball. We kept the tradition and maintained safety.”

Page 1 of 2