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Every Christmas and New Year's Day, the streets of Kirkwall become the venue for a mass games of street football which it's said has its roots in the Norse era.

The Ba' is a battle between two teams, the Uppies and the Doonies, to carry a hand-crafted leather ball to their respective goals at either end of the town.

The game has been played in Kirkwall's streets for hundreds of years, with the teams originally made up of men from the south end of the town - 'up the gates' - and the north end - 'down the gates'. Nowadays people play according to where they were born, family allegiance or how they first arrived in Kirkwall, with players from across Orkney helping make up the numbers for each team.

The game really is a sight to behold. The teams meet in front of the Mercat Cross on Broad Street on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, waiting for the cathedral clock to strike 1pm. The Ba' is heaved into the middle of the pack and from then on the action can be fast, frantic and entirely unpredictable. There is a swirling scrum of men and breaks up and down the street. You can often get a glimpse of the Ba' itself as it pops out of the main pack!

The atmosphere during the games is very special, particularly when darkness begins to fall and steam rises from the scrum. Do remember though to always keep a safe distance and don't get too close to the main action.

There is also a Boy's Ba' game on both days, which gets underway in the same spot in front of St Magnus Cathedral at 10am.