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This category is for posts which are now distant relics from the past

Who is The Anchorman?

At the 2013 AGM the secret identity of The Anchorman was revealed.

James Barguss, our new Chairman, admitted to writing the blog!

We wish James all the best in his future updates and in his Chairmanship.



Foot Faults

Foot faults

Something that pops up from time to time at games and recently the AGM is the foot fault. It’s a polarising subject which can get many people hot under the collar. For the record.

Rule 9 states

Each member of the team shall throw 6 sticks each, and may throw under arm or round arm, not over arm and both feet need to be behind the hocking by the time the stick has left the players hand. A stick leaving the players hand while his foot is standing on the hocking, may be declared a no stick.

However, the rules state nothing of who is to police the transgression and when you should point this out. For example should you have another caller type who stands at the hocking end? Does this person call out each error and put off the thrower or should they wait until the end of the throw?

Now what happens when the hocking doesn’t reach to the end of where the thrower is standing so that it’s not easy to see if the rule is broken? What if the hocking is just a line and it’s easy to step on? What if the hocking is 6 inches high and your toes step on and against but not over, does that count.

These are all valid points that make if difficult to make a judgement. Then of course what if the person throwing disagrees with you! Actually forget that,they’re going to aren’t they? Then what, stop the game till they admit it.

So where does this leave us?

I think it’s a little like speeding. Everyone at one point has done it. Maybe you knew you were doing it, possibly even did it deliberately. But maybe you didn’t and it was just a few mph over the limit but you got caught. How annoyed did that make you, I mean you never, ever speed but the one time you did you got caught and fined or you had to attend the speed school.

The point I’m making here is that no matter how whiter than white you are, you will at some point inadvertently foot foul.

About 3 years ago I was accused of doing the same thing. I didn’t do it deliberately and I certainly wasn’t getting more dolls because of it. But I changed my throw because of it and also began keeping an eye on those people thatbelieved it was cheating, I can tell you I saw them foot fault.

My solution then, if there can be one is this.

Can you imagine the bad feelings that would arise as a consequence of a footfault call where there are no defined ways around it

Anyone can make the call and then wait for the shit to hit for the rest of the game.Of one thing you can be certain, the more important the match the greater the tension, the more an issue it will become. The person making the call should first take that into account. Personally if I was captain and the thrower was stepping over and making a good score repeatedly i might speak quietly to the opposing captain.

The rule actually says ‘may be’ declared a no stick. It’s very discretionary but gives everyone the opportunity to air their views.

In the course of writing this post I’ve tried to get a view of what other people think about it, not just my own personal views but more of a consensus. If you are not aggressive or malicious in the way you approach the other captain I believe an agreement can be met where all the views can be accommodated and a satisfactory outcome arrived. If you are not then what is a fun team competition will no longer be that. When all is said and done we are there to have fun.

I hope this goes some way to answering the question of a foot fault, but I know it falls short of a definitive answer because there isn’t one. I would welcome anyone’s take on this.


And so it begins…

And so it begins…………….

After what was a big rush to gather enough players to enable us to sign on, weended up having enough to field a full team with a couple of spare.

With our first two friendlies being held in torrential downpours with the obligatory force 10 gale I was asked by a recent signing who had never played before, “is it always like this”? To which I replied “of course not, sometimes it’s windier and wetter”

With so many of our team not having played before (50%) it was a worry that we might be a section to high. Whilst we by no means set the world alight, neither did we fail miserably. The rain and wind did nothing to dampen our enthusiasm, though at times it was somewhat of a struggle. Our new throw is quite protected from the elements and that can’t be said for our old throw which was completely open to all the weather had to offer. I offer my condolences to those we left behind.

I was talking recently to someone who claimed to either have the first or the only 6 recorded on tape. Going back a few years all the Aunt Sally finals were recorded using a camcorder and a mirror. The camcorder sat on a table half way down the throw and the mirror allowed a sort of split screen effect, like you see at the darts. Half throwing player, half Doll.

I’m not sure if you are aware but for a few games now on a web site called USTREAM (see Aunt Sally TV ) there have been some live Aunt Sally from the winter league shown. The web site link is else where on Abingdon but go here and you can check it out your self.

I was thinking it might be nice to have a bit more on ustream or even youtube. So when the summer season starts if you feel the urge to splash some videos of yourselves playing the sally perhaps with a few 6’s it can only add to the fun.

If you do why not post them in the comments section here and we’ll do all we can to bring attention to them.

In the meantime wrap up warm and don’t let em get you down


Recruiting New Players

Beginning of a new Season


With the summer league on the horizon, talk has turned to who’s signing on and who isn’t. It’s rapidly becoming clear that some teams are going to be short of signings for the coming summer season.

On Wednesday I was approached by a couple of teams asking if I was aware of anyone looking for a game this year. One is the Spread Eagle and the other is Abingdon Utd A who will be moving to Wootton British Legion. Presumably changing their name to Wootton Legion A.

So, from now until the team sheets are due I’ll put anyone who emails me with wanting players in touch with people who want to play. Ill get our webmaster involved and we can have a kind of classified adverts for teams and players going. (I haven’t asked him yet but he’s really really nice)

The teams will accept any ability as long as you’re keen and prepared to make every game. This could be an opportunity for someone new to the game who wants to play or for a veteran who wishes to play somewhere nearer home.

There is no prerequisite to compete in any of the competitions.

Its always difficult to recruit new players so if I can put a few people in touch with each other then great. Teams need 12 people signed on but you can have more. Remember no one wants to be leading the table only to find everyone is on holiday at the same time.

Aunt Sally is one of the coolest sports there is. When I mention to anyone that I play I’m bombarded with questions “what’s its like to play” “where can i go to watch it played” I liken it to the playboy lifestyle of modern premiership footballers. Fast cars, great Clubs and the groupies are endless, you are literally fighting them off with er……Aunt Sally stick.

Don’t believe me? this guy plays number 6 for the Plough


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League Averages

League Averages

I spoke a while back about how the committee decide which teams go up or down a section. It got me thinking, particularly after I overheard someone say that they believed the standard of Aunt Sally to have been better in years before.

It’s always difficult to quantify when or if a certain era was better or for scores in any competitive game. Sure some teams can dominate for long periods and anecdotal evidence always proves the point. Everyone looks back on their careers as perhaps being the best for scores and the breaking of records.

These days because the reporting and results are widely published it’s easy to see what the state of the leagues is.

This post is going to be broken down into two because post 2006 all the results, teams and top dolls are in the digital domain for anyone to look at. After that it becomes more difficult. I’ve got hold of quite a few results sheets from way back when, but it will take me a while to sift through and collate.

For the purposes of this post I’m referring to years 2007 to 2011 summer season only.

What does a team’s leg average need to be consistently to be in the premier or A section?




























































I took the total number of dolls for every team in each league. And divided by 18 games and then divided it by 3 for the legs.

As you can see the totals remain pretty static for the 5 years that we have data for. If as a team you can average 22 dolls a leg then you will easily make the Premier section. It’s also interesting to note the difference between team averages roughly 2 or 3 dolls per league.

What about the hallowed end of year top ten dolls. How many would you think you would need to get to get into the top 10 of your section?

Top Dolls




























































I got the above table by taking the top 10 dolls from the last 5 years. Again the numbers appear fairly static. 110 dolls would see you at the top of the C and D section this year.

Perhaps a more accurate comparison of team dolls can be shown below

Team Average




























































These numbers are the total number of dolls for the section divided by the number of teams. It gives a better indication as to whether or not the standard of play is better or worse. I think you’ll agree there isn’t much movement here, apart from section H where the standard has got better.

Finally to give some perspective, its all very well averaging out all the scores to give a nice linear pattern. But what are the differences between the top and the bottom.


It’s quite obvious that there is a marked difference between those in the top half and those in the bottom.

As I’ve said before this only really goes back as far as 2007. It’s going to take me some time to go thru the paper copies of years gone by, but it’s something I will do.

What do you think?


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.