How to Play

In Aunt Sally, the single white stubby skittle, about 6 inches high and 2 and 3/4 inches in diameter, is called a “dolly” or “doll” and the round-ended projectiles, of which there are six, are 18 inches long, 2 inches (max) in diameter and are called “sticks”.

The doll is positioned on top of a “swivel” which is inserted into a hollow rod (the “iron”) driven into the earth so that the top is two and a half feet above the ground – the top of the doll is therefore two stick lengths high i.e. 3ft.

Swivel, Iron, Doll, Sticks

Swivel, Iron, Doll, Sticks

The players throw the sticks, underarm or roundarm, anything else is far too dangerous, at the doll from behind a line known as the “hockey” (or “oche”) which is 10 yards (30ft, or 20 stick lengths) from the iron.

Each turn consists of six throws and a ‘doll’ is only counted as long as the stick hits the doll before the iron. Hence our slogan “You know it’s good when you hear the wood!“.

Normal league play has two teams each consisting of eight players and three legs or “horses” are played. Each horse consists of each member of each team having one turn so that each team makes 48 throws per leg.

– with thanks and adapted from the Oxford Aunt Sally League



To spice things up on a league game, some sides put money on it:

  • 50p/£1 per player to the scorer of the most dolls (pinchers)
  • £1 each to the player to get the first six in the match.
  • 50p fine for each blob (no score) for the end of season kitty

During knockout competition matches, when a draw is not acceptable, a leg can be finished if drawn by a 3 stick leg where each player goes again with only 3 sticks. If this is drawn then it’s down to 1 stick. If this is drawn then back to 6 sticks/3/1 until one team wins. Other leagues go to 1 stick and stay at 1 stick until won. 

Other practice/training variations can be first to 11. A singles game with a respectable score target so players take turns and first to total 11 dolls wins. 

Competitions in the Abingdon League include singles, pairs, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 8’s which are all knockout versions. 

Examples of Good and Bad Dolls:

A good Doll (YouTube)

An Iron (with slow mo replay)! (YouTube)