What's Happening in Bournemouth blog

Kirkwall’s Tony is having a ball

A local taxi driver had to go a long way to prove that a story he often told at the pub was true. Tony Rees, 54, drove all the way from Bournemouth to his hometown of Kirkwall in the Orkney Isles in order to silence skeptics such as his close friend, Ieuan Llewellyn.

Tony, who is a father of six, wanted to prove that his claim of winning the Kirkwall Ba’ ball in 1973 was in fact true, and not embellished or clouded after he had drunk a few pints.

Ba’ball dates back to Viking times, and is played on the streets of Kirkwall every Christmas and New Year’s Day. Tony didn’t have the cork ball that usually goes to the victor, so he had no proof that his story was true. Ieuan, 51, was unconvinced of his friend’s success despite his adamant protestations.

Tony went to Kirkwall to prove Ieuan wrong: “I’d brought the ball back to my mother’s house after the game. Winners tended to display them as trophies in their windows but mine ended up in our attic. Mum moved house and we lost track of where the ball had gone for decades.”

During his time at home, Tony eventually found the missing ball in the airing cupboard of all places! He arrived back in Bournemouth with his prize and left Ieuan flabberghasted.

He said: “I’d always made fun of Tony when he told the Kirkwall Ba’ story. Luckily I didn’t put a wager on as I would have lost my bet.”

Tony said: “It was a long way to travel but it was worthwhile. After so many years of ribbing from Ieuan, I managed to prove my point.”

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