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Sticks and Things

Sticks and things

Back in 1988 the second summer of love. If you were a hardcore raver spending time at illegal warehouse parties and being arrested for breach of the peace. In fact I even have a record called breach of the peace by Spiral Tribe. Anyway that wasn’t me till later, I was only 13 at the time. No 1988 was my first serious foray into playing Aunt Sally.

It was a beer leg if I remember. An extra to make up the numbers and I’m pretty sure it would have been Abingdon Legion. I didn’t have my own sticks, I had to borrow my dads and they were heavy. Weighing in at one pound eight ounces I really struggled to reach the iron by rolling let alone hit the doll. Dad said I had to persevere though and that Christmas Santa gave me my first set of sticks.

In May of the next year I played my first season…Well, what actually happened was I played a grand total of 2 games not including the odd beer leg. The problem wasn’t my enthusiasm ( it was boundless) my problem was Abingdon Legion were an A section team, there was no premier in those days and I wasn’t good enough, only really making the team when holidays or illness decimated the team to the extent that they didn’t have any choice. In those days it was cut throat and I threw so badly that some weeks I didn’t make the team despite them only having 7 men. These were some pretty lean times for me (some may say I’ve not got much better, and to be fair on recent results they would be right) at times I really felt that I should probably take up a sport I would be more suited too. Sadly Extreme Ironing hadn’t been invented then, even if it was, mum wouldn’t let go to high with something so hot.


So it was that I decided I should move to a team more befitting of my talents, I dropped a few leagues to play for the Fitzharris arms (now a owned by a super market) I spent 2 seasons there and finally the prodigal son returned. Not really any better but certainly wiser, there were fewer blobs and more ones.

All through out this I was throwing 1/8s. It’s all I had ever thrown until one evening there was a bit of a cock up and I forgot them. Luckily Bob Carter said “why don’t you use mine” They were 1/10s not a massive difference but they were a revelation, I don’t remember the exact score but I was seriously impressed. So much so that Bob and I used the same sticks for the rest of the season. This also shows an enormous amount of generosity because anyone that has their own sticks, my self included, won’t let anyone else use them. That Christmas Santa dropped a set of 1/10s down the chimney. He knows just what to get, doesn’t he?

Fast forward a few seasons and I’m in need of some new sticks, my previous ones a mass of splinters and no longer making weight. I was unable to get hold of 1/10s and has to settle for 1/11s now it’s only an ounce but I was unable to replicate my success with the 1/10s. So I hatched a plan. I don’t know why but I decided I needed heavier sticks. So I wrote my letter to Santa that Christmas. Sure enough on Christmas morning I was the proud owner of a set of 2lb sticks! They are a thing of beauty, but they can bite quite badly. Let them dry out and the resulting splinter will slice your hand in 2.

My point is I tried for years with the same sticks everyone else had. If not for circumstances and trying the different weighted sticks I would have stuck with them forever. Don’t take things for granted, mix it up a bit, never get into such a rut you can’t get back out.

Take her easy



Chances of Getting 18

Due to the fact the Wednesday night was a complete wash out, not just for me but team wise the performance was pretty lacklustre. I got to thinking the other day about the chances of getting 18. I suppose you can call it the holy grail of the Aunt Sally world.

Lets face it hitting all 18 sticks is not something I think I’m ever going to have to worry about, it’s completely out of my league. It’s certainly not something you can think “I might get lucky” it’s just not going to happen.

There are literally a handful of players that can claim to have done it and had it confirmed by a 3rd party. All except one are from Oxford, one of whom has done it twice. I’m not one for researching however I’ve tried to get some clarification on this.

There is a possibility that I’ve missed someone so please I’d love to add more to this list.


Doug Califano


Phil Adams

Kevin Giles (Twice)

Den Sellers (youngest when he did it)

We all know someone who has had 17 in league or competition, or even 18 in practice. But to have done it during a game, it’s epic to think of. You know they didn’t do it on pure luck or by accident, though certainly that may have had a part to play. That score was achieved by skill without a doubt.

Considering my abysmal throwing on Wednesday night what would I happy with?

What would you be happy with? When you get home and your significant other says, “How did you get on”? What number is it that changes your mind from “I was crap” or “I did alright” or even “I threw well” Does that number go up or down depending on the circumstances of the throw or how well you are playing?

Personally I always think I want a minimum of 3 a leg, I’m happy with that. In fact if I could end up with 9 per game for 18 games (162) I’d be very happy but I’m sure that maybe I’m putting too much pressure on myself.

Perhaps what I need to do is look at what I got total for the last year and work out what my actual total is and aim to beat that. Easy to do as the results are online. So my average is 7.5 dolls a game. Not my best year again if I’m honest. So looking at this winter season anything above 136 for the season and I’ll be happy. I’m never happy with a throw I don’t know if that’s because I’m competitive in all that I do. Sure if I get a 6 I’m over the moon no doubt. You’ll often hear me muttering I could’ve got one more or that should have been 4 or 5. It’s like some sort of compulsion I always want one more. Quite often during a game I think I wish I could have that throw again, or if I just had one more throw I know I could do better.

As someone wiser than me said “you’re only as good as your last throw” but then with equal measure “no one cares about that last throw, it’s this one that counts”



Presentation Night

Presentation Evening

I’m racking my brains trying to think of my first presentation evening. It’s a struggle. I do remember it was held at Roman Way which is at the back of what is now the BMW plant. It was in the largest of the rooms the Emperor room I believe. The trophies were presented first and then there was a band, from memory they were a good band, from the picture I look like I’m having a good time and surely that’s what counts. I do remember that I got very drunk and fell asleep on the bathroom floor (at home) and very nearly didn’t make my paper round.

The Emperor room held around 500 people and it was full to bursting. In those days it was a real family evening out. Me, Mum, Dad, friends of the family who didn’t even play Aunt Sally went, they just knew it was going to be a great night.

Times have changed now though. We now hold it at Abingdon UTD football club. We don’t have as many people buy tickets. Those that do turn up leave shortly after collecting their trophies. It’s a shame that we are not able to entertain the numbers we once did.

Looking around it seems to have affected all areas. Pubs and Clubs are struggling unless they offer food. It could be the recession People generally have less disposable income to spend. When you’re paying less than £10 for crate of beer at the supermarket why bother to go out. I remember when it was cheaper to buy beer in a club than a pub. Now though the gap isn’t so wide. Still it’s as bad if you’re not drinking. I recently had a pint of Orange Juice and Lemonade and it was £3!! I had my first visit to the College Oak at Peachcroft after the refurb where a Guinness extra cold was £3.10 I’ll be back!

For all my moaning team registration has stayed reasonably static. We always seem to get the same number of team’s together year on year and the reasons I gave above are a fact of life and here to stay. For me personally I still enjoy finals night but for different reasons. It gives me a chance to catch up with people I’ve either not seen since last year or possibly seen twice on match day.

An enormous amount of time and effort go into both organising and setting up presentation night. Terry Downes mopping all those trophies that teams have ‘forgotten’ to bring back. Getting all the trophies to the engraver on time (spelt correctly). Setting all the new ones up on the table at the front.

This year presentation night tickets will be for sale from the 16th October from the Secretary Graham Brown or you can get them on Wednesday evening during the Winter League at Abingdon UTD.

I’ll see you all on the 28th October at Abingdon UTD.



Interview: Martin Sheridan

MartinSheridan.jpgInterview with Martin Sheridan

I’ve been writing another post but this really makes much more sense. After a thrilling singles final between Mick Phillips (Spread Eagle, previously Cumnor CC) and Martin Sheridan (Fox Steventon) on Wednesday night I thought I would run with this interview from Martin.

An absolutely superb player. If we had had a hall of fame He would be in it.

1- When did you first begin playing and who was it for?

1964, Duke Of York, Oxpens, Oxford.

2 – Can you give me a short biography of the teams/pubs you have played for?

1964 to 1967 – Duke of York

1967 to 1970 – Lucy’s, Walton St, Oxford

1970 to 1974 — Edward VII, Lake St, Oxford

1974 to 1976— Red, White & Blue, Cowley Rd, Oxford 1976 to 1980 — Crown, Harwell

1980 to 2004 — Kings Arms, Steventon

2004 to present — Fox Inn, Steventon

3 – What made you start playing and who would have been your influences when you first began?

My Dad played for the Duke of York, and I was his number one fan! On one occasion, they were a player short, and I was asked to play (I am not sure that I was signed on). It’s a bit vague, but I do believe I scored a 2-2-1. I was then hooked on ‘Aunt Sally’. The great Monty Greenaway was a big influence on me, for his sheer tenacity… He seemed invincible.

4 – You have obviously been involved with some very successful teams, The Fox for example have been a very dominant force. Are there any that stand out for you?

When I played for the Edward Vii, the team we had were majestic! Bill Bates, Ron Parker, Norman Nuttall, Waggle Green, Neville Crook, Salcie Heritage, Laurie Woods (who I witnessed score 7 consecutive sixes in practice) and little old me.

The Red, White & Blue were another great team. Jack Greenough, Maurice Baker, Ray Clarke, Mick Surrage and Trevor Cook.

My time in Steventon both currently with the Fox, and previously with the now-defunct Kings Arms has been memorable. We’ve won the lot! Teams like the Penlon and the Cumnor Cricket Club conjure up some of the greatest memories. I’ve played with the great Dave Dix, Barrington Parker (who in my opinion is the best anchorman in Abingdon), Robin Greetham, Richard Butler, Colin Smith, Nigel Weston, Rodney Prior.., the list is endless.

The new kids on the block are the Spread Eagle, Abingdon, who play with some of the Old Cumnor Cricket Club team. We’ve played against them in the Eights final, the Tom Simmons and the Red Drive, and they have won on every occasion. One guy, John Simmons, who plays for the Spread Eagle… How he’s not won the Abingdon Singles baffles me! He is a great player and his time must come soon.

5 – Your throw. Have you always thrown like that or has it developed. Did anyone help you initially with your throw? E.g. give advice etc.

I have always been left handed, coming forward with my right leg, but always felt unbalanced. The transition to coming forward with my left leg was difficult. It was a mind game, and perseverance was the key! But I stuck with it, and my balance seems to be ok now!

The great Monty Greenaway advised me to throw the stick, rather than lob it, as it would make it more accurate.

6 – This for those just starting or new players. You are a very good player, particularly under pressure. How long would say it took from when you first took up Aunt Sally to when you were consistently getting 10 or more dolls per game.

About 5 years

7 – You’ve won the singles competition a total of 6 times now. Do you have any special moments in competition or league which you look back on with pride

The game I look back on with the most pleasure is when I played Ron Parker in the Singles semi-finals, at the White Hart in Harwell. The garden was thronging with people, and the alley was roped off. There was just the two of us on the oche, and the callers in the wood yard. Ron had a theory that if he won the toss, he would always put his opponent in first (he loved the chase), so every time the coin was tossed up, I would never look Ron in the eyes. I would simply pick up my sticks and throw regardless, Ron never challenged me.

The game was epic… six sticks, three sticks, one stick, back to six sticks. I eventually won 2-1. What an emotional night! It was the first time I’d beaten the mighty Ron Parker.

8 – Recently I’ve mentioned some potentially controversial subjects in the blog. How do you see the game going with regard to the number of players in the team, perhaps reducing, Is that something you would agree with?

Most definitely, with many pubs closing down, and few younger players coming through, it may be necessary for the team numbers to reduce for the leagues to survive.

9 – Do you agree with the handicap system in place at the moment?

It’s the only fair way to run the league, it gives all the teams a chance of winning the league.

10 – In this game with so many characters and so many different types of throw and approach. What do you think makes a good player and do you have any advice for those starting out? How do they get as good as you? Is it practice or ability?

Being consistent is key! To achieve this you need to practice. Try to be relaxed. Knocking off the doll in practice is ok, but the match is when it matters most. Things creep in like nerves, bad calls, or you simply miss… all this adds to the tension. You need to overcome these things to become a good player!


Interview with Graham Barguss

Interview with Graham Barguss G-Barguss.jpg

Some weeks I have no idea what I’m going to write about, others I have no trouble with. On one of the weeks I was struggling to think of something I was reading an interview with Jerry Burgess (Valentino Rossi’s Chief engineer) This gave me the idea to do something similar. I’ve sent the same set of questions to a couple of people to test the water and see how they go.

The first reply to arrive is from League Chairman Graham Barguss. If you don’t know who he is then this a golden opportunity. If it wasn’t for Graham Barguss or Graham Brown you would not be playing in the Abingdon Aunt Sally League at all. Such is the time and effort they put in.

1- When did you first begin playing and who was it for?

I started playing in 1974 for The Bystander B team in section D

2 – Can you give me a short biography of the teams/pubs you have played for and when you became chairman?

I played one season for the Bystander and then moved to the Flowing Well playing in the C section for a couple of seasons. I then went to RBL Wootton for a couple of years moving from there to the White Horse joining the team there which then moved as a team to the Crown Ock Street – when the Crown closed we moved as a team across the road to the Brewery Tap. I was then asked to join RBL Abingdon playing with them for 7 or 8 years during which time I was recruited onto the committee as Chairman by Basil Collins who came down to the shop to ask me to take the job on . As a player I returned then to RBL Wootton, the team then split up and I joined the team at the Saxton Arms moving on to Abingdon United after 3 seasons.

3 – What made you start playing and who would have been your influences when you first began?

At the time I first started to play I wasn’t of course, good enough to play in the A Team , they had the best team in the league, with Basil Collins, Phil Sallis, Sid Green, Tony Thompson, Frank Watson and Jimmy Dixey playing in the A team, adults I had known my whole life, and knew that they played, however I did not go to a game until I returned from the Army, so along with my brother John and Bob Wellman we started a B team at the Bystander .

My influences from day 1 were, in no particular order: Jimmy Dixey Sid Green and Ron Parker from Abingdon, Mickey Beane, Laurie Woods and Monty Greenaway from Oxford .

4 – You have obviously been involved with some very successful teams, The Abingdon Legion were a very dominant force as were Penlon. Are there any that stand out for you?

Abingdon RBL stands out above the rest for the number of trophies they won during my time with them. That team would have held its own against any of the era teams, Flowing Well 60-61, Bystander 70-74, Cross Keys 74-76 and the Fox 95-2004

5 – Your throw. Have you always thrown like that or has it developed. Did anyone help you initially with your throw? E.g. give advice etc.

My throw started feet apart, back to front holding 3 sticks, averaging 6 or 7 changing to left leg one step forward. Then developed slowly moving my hands further up the stick until a cross stick arrived without realising it. I have not always been confident of my throw changing and adjusting regularly. The one thing that has helped me is a good eye and being able to concentrate on my action.

6 – This for those just starting or new players. You are a very good player, particularly under pressure. How long would say it took from when you first took up Aunt Sally to when you were consistently getting 10 or more dolls per game.

About 5 years and playing the anchorman enabled me to handle the pressure

7 – You’ve won the singles competition and everything in-between. Do you have any special moments in competition or league which you look back on with pride?

I have won the singles competition once reached the finals 3 times and the semi finals twice Winning the league for the first time in section C with the Flowing Well the same for RBL Abingdon as Captain my sixes and man of the match award against the Oxford League, winning the Pairs Final with my son James, my highest dolls in any match 17 and getting 200 dolls in a season on only a few occasions .

8 – Recently I’ve mentioned some potentially controversial subjects in the blog. How do you see the game going with regard to the number of players in the team, perhaps reducing, Is that something you would agree with?

I would like to see the game continue in its original and present form of 8 in a team but the current financial climate may dictate otherwise. You only have to look at the number of pubs closing down every week to see the end of the pub as we know it. I think clubs are possibly the future they really appreciate the business midweek, because of this I can see, sooner rather than later, reducing the team member numbers. My ideal scenario would be name 8 players to play but only play 5 in a leg, playing maybe 5 legs but changing the lowest scorer each leg, your better players have a guaranteed 5 legs and the lesser one to 3 legs . Scoring would need some thought but would give all players and teams a chance every week.

9 – Do you agree with the handicap system in place at the moment?

I personally feel no handicap is necessary although the current system is working reasonably well. I would like to see a change to a handicap for individual players for example Captains would nominate their players , the opposing captain would check that player list against a list produced by the committee the idea being that the same average would apply – Team A have an average of 24 Team B an average of 20 a handicap of 4 dolls for Team B . If Team A have 2 players away bringing their average down to 21 they would only give one doll handicap this would cover holidays and weaker teams.

10 – In this game with so many characters and so many different types of throw and approach. What do you think makes a good player and do you have any advice for those starting out? How do they get as good as you? Is it practice or ability?

As you are aware the standard throw is standstill legs apart back and front to gain line and length, eye coordination is essential, some people can do it immediately others have no idea, you can liken it to learning to catch a tennis ball, some folk do it straight off others will never be able to achieve it. As your confidence grows your throw will change often as you experiment until you find something that suits and you are comfortable with. I never stop thinking what I can do to improve. You can see guys down in section C D and E who have played for 20-30 years and still throw the same as they did on day one, still getting the odd one or two but very pleased to be taking part in the game and socialising which really is the idea of the game.


Blog 9 – The Winter League

Winter League

With our last few games of the summer season fast approaching I’ve seen that the Abingdon Winter Aunt Sally (WASL) sign on sheets are out and about.

Abingdon Winter Aunt Sally is extremely successful.

Run firstly by Brian Clapton and now by Tosh Wooloff it has 10 teams. Each team has 5 active players plus a few spare. The teams are split into A and B section with 5 teams in each. All the matches are indoors at the Abingdon United Football Club.

During the winter I play for a different team than I do in the summer and so do most of the other players. The teams are much more varied and the scores are much closer.

Playing begins at 19:45 SHARP!! With all 5 games lasting around 30 mins each.

Yes it’s pain being last on but that’s the price you pay for some good Aunt Sally.

I’d like to say that the winter league isn’t taken as seriously as the summer, but I’d be lying. It starts off that way. A bit of fun and a laugh, but as the season progresses that all changes and it’s just as competitive.

Is it better than summer? Well, it’s different. With only 5 players a bad leg is bad leg. Often you will see a good team only hitting 10 or 13. Without an 8 man team to raise that score everyone needs to be playing well. This keeps the league interesting right up the last game. For the last couple of years this has gone to the last game of the last night, gripping stuff if you like your Sally.

If you haven’t played perhaps you should consider coming down for our first practice session (I’m not sure when this is, keep an eye on the web site ED- there’s no friendly this year as the summer Wed Competitions had extended the season) A friendly between the teams. There are always spaces on teams and it gives you a chance to meet and play with different people.

There isn’t any practice though you can turn up before the 19:45 start time and have as many throws as you can get in.

Playing in the winter gives you the opportunity to modify your throw and get some practice in ready for summer. I can’t say this enough, the people there are super friendly and will help with advice on any part of your game.

Also there are a fair number of the summer committee playing there. Graham Barguss, Graham Brown, Terry Downes, James Barguss, John Simmonds and Paul Stone. This is a good time to approach (obviously not during the game) and discuss ideas or issues you may be having and give some advice as the best way to solve them.

The winter league doesn’t have a committee as such. Tosh runs it and what he says goes, although as teams we all vote on any decisions.

My next few blog posts I hope will be interviews with some of the better players within the league. Unless of course I don’t get any replies back!

Remember also we have finals night approaching (Wed 28th Sep) and ALL of the trophies need returning so that they can be engraved ready for presentation night (Fri 28th Oct).



Blog 8

Blog 8

Apologies on the lateness of this blog I’ve been a little busy of late. This week’s blog is a little different. I was recently emailed by someone asking for my opinion and I thought I would make my thoughts this week’s blog. So thanks to Dave.

If anyone else needs an urgent query answering, if I can’t answer I do have access to someone who is even more knowledgeable than I. Though to be fair, that’s not hard.

1 – Advice on playing in the rain and keeping your average.

Playing in the rain is a great leveller. For players that throw the stick rather than let it slide through their hands it shouldn’t be a problem. Issues arise when the stick gets wet and sticks to your hand. Keep a beer towel in your bag at all times and as soon you’ve thrown give each one a proper dry even if they look OK. You will find that they should have dried enough to throw again. Of course once dried you should store them in the car or under the table not leave them in the rain.

If you are at home you should always have a dry bit of carpet to put on the floor for the match. This is so important. How many times do people complain that they don’t like playing in the rain but then neglect to provide a dry area in the shed. Surely, that’s common sense.

Some people get their sticks drenched and find that easier because then it’s uniformly wet through out the stick. Me? I use the beer towel works every time.

Keeping your average up is better answered in 2.

2 – Does practice make perfect, I threw 4 4 4 in practice and X 1 2 in the game. Is it all in the head?

Practice does indeed make perfect but not really on game night. If at all possible use another time, I like to throw on a Sunday afternoon if I can. Too much practice right before a match tires your arm a small amount and you either drop short or over compensate and go over or are wild. 3 practice throws on a new pitch is the maximum. 2 on a pitch you’ve already thrown on. Once to loosen the arm and another to get your eye in. NEVER EVER throw a 6 in practice I guarantee you a blob and a low score. If you get your first 3 throw the next 2 away and try for the 6th. You’re just wasting dolls here.

The reason you get more when practicing is because you are more relaxed, even if you think you’re doing everything the same, little things like not extending your arm as much or, letting go of the stick a fraction sooner than you would normally. Get someone you trust to stand behind you during practice and get them to watch, or better still get your digital camera and film your throw on Sunday afternoon that’s when you will be most relaxed, sounds silly but it will give you a good feedback.

I’ll use golf as an example.

Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros.

Both great players but Nick Faldo before playing would hit 500 balls to get his eye in and get his muscle memory in tune. Every time he played he did this. Seve Ballesteros never did anything like it, he was a natural and didn’t need to.

There is a good proportion of it in your head as well. Go out there and really concentrate on getting that first doll. Once you get the first your confidence goes up, it’s all about that first doll, I can’t stress that enough!

With respect to keeping up a decent average I would say the more time you think about it the worst your average will become. You end up putting too much pressure on yourself and as a result end up with a poor score. In fact the best way to score well is to be relaxed and concentrate on getting that first doll, then the second and so on. I never think with three in the bag I could get a 4 here. Rather I think, “I just want one more, just one more” Think of what you need now not what you need for a good average.

3 – Should I sand my sticks?

Sanding sticks is personal preference I never do unless I have splinters. From question 1 if you slide the stick in your hand then it needs to be smooth, if you throw the stick without sliding it at all then don’t bother. However, some players use the sand as a psychological tool to get them in the zone before they throw. It’s less about the actual sand and more about the focus it gives the player, a ritual if you like.

4 – I play well in the team but in the singles I go to bits

Singles competitions are the absolute pinnacle of what makes a good player a good player. Every player is nervous in the singles comp it’s just how they show it.

To get around it you need to put yourself in that position loads so that you feel at home there. And always try to be as relaxed as you can, even if you really aren’t. It’s no surprise that you see the same old faces in the singles competition. They’ve, literally in some cases, been doing it for years. It becomes second nature and they are able to play through the nerves, even use it to their advantage.



The Handicap System

The Handicap System

I’ve played a couple of games recently where the the extra dolls that teams get under the handicap system have allowed them to win a few points from us. That’s exactly what system is designed for. To allow teams that wouldn’t normally be competitive a chance to win games.

With the Premier and A sections being combined there is a massive difference between the averages of the top of the Premier and the bottom of the A. Taking a quick look the Waggon and Horses at Southmoor are averaging 15.85 a leg. Compare that to the Spread who are averaging 25.36 a leg. There is a need for some way of levelling up the scores so that there is a competitive edge to the league.

In an ideal world we would have evenly matched teams playing each other. But that’s just not possible with falling numbers and ranges in ability. The handicaps are created at the beginning of the season. Once all the registration forms have been returned the averages of the all the players are calculated. The best 8 are then added up to give an idea of what that team is capable of. This is where things can go a bit wrong. If you sign a player that has a relatively high average, more so than the section you are in, it will put you higher up or possibly the next section or give you less of a handicap than you otherwise might be entitled.

Once the averages are in the committee get together and discuss who’s moving up, going down or staying put. Then they take a look at how big a difference it is between the top and the bottom teams. The averages are then calculated to raise the scores and add a competitive edge.

That’s how it done. Not rocket science but it does take some time to do. I know from speaking to some of the Friday night Oxford league players that the handicap system there is even more brutal 6 dolls or more can be added to a teams score.

The system in place at the moment is pretty controversial and sometimes it doesn’t seem fair, but when is life ever. The thing is what could it be replaced by? I know that the committee are open to suggestions. Do you think it goes to far? or do you think it doesn’t go far enough. Leave some comments at the bottom or come along to the AGM in January to voice an opinion.

Finally should you carry the handicap over into the beer leg. It’s really up to the teams. There aren’t any hard and fast rules. If the team your playing has just won 6-0 without the handicap then clearly they don’t need it. If they haven’t then maybe they should be allowed to keep it.

If you have a team with 3 dolls and a team with 2 dolls then you take one from the other and the 3 doll is reduced to one doll with the other team getting no extras.

I hope this helps in understanding the system that’s in place. As ever comments at the bottom or email me at


Captaincy and The Coin Toss

Captaincy and the coin toss.

We’ve all got one, they head the team up, pick the team and call or toss the coin. Most Aunt Sally Captains once they attain the rank stay there for years. I don’t know why. My theory is that most people think it doesn’t matter who it is, only that you have one. That’s a fair enough point. The only real pressure is who to pick and who to drop. If the team is running the ‘lowest score of last week is out’ then even that is taken care of.

You’re wrong though. Why?

Here’s how it breaks down.

Teams like setting, teams like chasing. Some love to chase big scores, and the pressure that comes with it. Some can’t do pressure at all and fold. Your Captain needs to know what type of team you are and what the opposing team prefer.

A few years ago my Captain and I made a note of who we were playing, who won the toss, the choice that was made and then who won the leg.

The results were surprising, not for us, we suspected this was the case but needed to prove it.

Some teams (read Captains here) are unable to read the situation. They go first every time they win the toss, every time no matter what. So prevalent is this trait or foible that we gave it a name. The Oxford call. During years of playing in various Oxford league and competition matches it’s where we first noticed it. Not that they do it anymore or less than Abingdon.

Now if you’re the Cricketers (Ox) or the Spread ‘A (Ab) this doesn’t apply to you.

These rules work 90% of the time and are tried and tested. They work if you have a team of eight or you are on your own in a singles competition.

When to set When to chase
Team your playing love to set so you set instead Team loves to chase. So you chase
Competition – After 2 draws and you’re throwing one stick. ALWAYS GO FIRST You’ve just chase a big score and got it. You need a break. NEVER EVER go straight back in. You’ll set an embarrassingly low score
Your at home and it’s raining or windy, so much so it’s affecting everyone’s game When your clearly the better team
Evenly matched teams but with a lot on the line. Playoffs or competition finals

The rules always have exceptions. But you can play some real mind games with some Captains and totally psych them out. Always be unpredictable and always be prepared to take a risk. I know of at least one Captain who really takes this as far as you can take it and will actively psych out the other Captain during the toss. He’s good at it too, I’m pretty sure no one has cottoned on yet.

Remember the toss is all about being in control. It gives you the opportunity to make a choice that gives your team the best chance of winning the leg/match.



World Aunt Sally Championship

World Aunt Sally Championships?

I was speaking with a good friend of mine on Wednesday night. He mentioned that at the weekend he attended the 1st World Aunt Sally Championship at the Charlbury Beer Festival. He passed on some thoughts which I feel I should share.

The claim of the organisers that it is the first ‘World’ championship is a bit misleading as some years ago the Abingdon round table organised a Singles and Fours World Championship in the Abbey Meadow. The singles competition was won by Dave Dix but I’m afraid my memory fails me as I cannot remember the fours team winners. However, this is unimportant and me being pedantic.

The Charlbury competition had 32 players playing a down to a final. Initially the weather looked as though it would be an issue but, after the draw, the sun came out. I’m told that the two Abingdon players that did attend are not familiar with that area of Aunt Sally world so it was nice to have a few throws against some different opposition.

I won’t bore you with a blow by blow account of the competition I wasn’t there vbut both players that did attend said what a great day it was. In particular to note the calling was to a very high standard. It’s always difficult particularly when playing in unfamiliar territory and you always have at the back of your mind that calling might not be as good as you are used to. In fact I am told it was as good if not better. I’m afraid I do not have the names of the two gentlemen in question that did the calling and sticking up (all day) one of whom made it to the final. I hope they read this and are able to add their names to the comments section they deserve a little recognition for a well organised event.

Something new was brought to my attention which I wasn’t aware of and I apologise if the exact details are wrong here but the gist is. In the Wychwood league owing to the small number of teams in the area they have reduced the team number from 8 to 6 and instead of 3 play the best of 5 legs.

Having played for 20 years I have seen our numbers dwindle steadily every year. The smoking ban, the cost of beer, the recession. All I suppose have taken their toll. I’m aware that in my own team we have nine regular players and that’s about it. We have players we can call in if needs be but its certainly getting worse. How long before we can’t get a team? We’ll have two choices join with another team or try to find new players. (If we could have found new players we would have done so) .Would reducing the team numbers be the answer to our shrinking league? I would be really interested to find out your opinion on this. It’s successfully done in the winter with teams of 5.

Something else that was mentioned was that there were a lot of very decent Aunt Sally Players at the World Championship but who, for what ever reason, didn’t put their names down for the competition. I have to ask myself why. Is pride a factor here? Not wanting to be beaten by what are perceived to be lesser players? Or the credibility of the competition? Who cares it’s their loss. It sounds like it was a great day that was a lot of fun for all involved. There was a very sizeable crowd for the final. If that gets a few more people interested in the game we all win.