Aunt Sally For Beginners

The origins and history of the game are not entirely clear - visit 'A History of Aunt Sally' on our Links page opposite. The modern game is essentially pub sport - to be enjoyed with 'responsible' quaffing of ale on balmy summer evenings(??). Serious players also take part in indoor winter leagues. The object of the game is to see how many times you can knock a wooden 'doll' off a post by throwing 6 sticks at it from a distance of 30 feet - simple!

You can see the 'doll' in the pictures below- a 6" high wooden skittle, sitting on a swivelled post 2' 6" above the ground. Just behind the doll is a canvas backdrop to catch the incoming stick. A painted bullseye helps you aim at the doll. The stick is a wooden cylinder 18" long and 2" or less in diameter. Its weight varies between 1-2lb according to the player's preference.

Now the hard bit - you stand 30 feet away, behind a throwing line (called variously 'hockey', 'hocking' or 'oche') and throw each of your six sticks in turn at the doll. You can only throw underarm. To score, your stick must knock the doll cleanly off the swivel, without first touching either the swivel or the post.

The scorer down at the other end will call 'Doll' if it hits cleanly or 'Iron' if it hits the post first.

A clean 'doll'

An 'iron'

Failure to score anything with 6 sticks is referred to as a 'blob' - the unfortunate player being subject to much derision. (mainly from their own side!) - and in some cases a fine of 50p! On the toss of a coin,the winning team will elect to either 'set' (throw) or put their opponents in.

Each of the six team members throws all of their sticks and the dolls are totalled. The opposing team then all throw. The team with the highest doll score will be awarded that leg; a match being the best of three legs (also called 'horses').

Should the doll count be equal at the end of a leg, then the process is repeated with each player having only 3 sticks each ( a 'Three Sticker').

If it's still a draw, then it's done again with only 1 stick each (a 'One Sticker) Still a draw? - then back to 6 sticks and keep going 6-3-1-6-3-1 until someone wins. Even if there's an outright winner after 2 legs, the third leg will be played, because total doll score counts in final league positions and possible promotion in the following season.

After the conclusion of the match proper comes the high point for many - The Beer Leg. Winners of the beer leg get bought a drink by their opponents ! Matches alternate - home and away, giving the opportunity to visit a variety of pubs.

Aunt Sally is a game that can be played and enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities and it would be great to think that by visiting this site, someone might be inspired to have a go at our 'beautiful game'.

If you're outside the UK and you know of Aunt Sally (or something similar) being played near you, get in touch and let us know about it. (photos welcome). We've already been contacted from the USA, China and the Czech Republic!

So, you think you have good hand to eye co-ordination ? Want to give it a try ? On the first page of the League option in the main menu, you'll find a list of the pubs in our league - ring one and see if you can have a go. Remember that League matches are played on Thursday nights between 8:30 and around 10:00pm - a good time to spectate, but don't expect to get a game!