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St Andrews Shinty

Are you a fresher and still dreaming of achieving a first while experiencing the wonders of St Andrews? Are you a 4th year who has suddenly realized graduation is approaching and you have yet to do anything remotely Scottish except for that time you ventured to Dundee? Or are you somewhere in the middle and looking for a new sport or Wednesday night activity? Maybe some of you have even heard of a certain sport called Shinty? St Andrew’s Women’s Shinty team is focused not only on fitness and Shinty but encouraging a team atmosphere and our socials are legendary (although potentially just to ourselves…)

Most of you are probably asking, what is this ‘Shinty’? Well, Shinty (Camanachd in Gaelic) can be traced back 2,000 years. Many popular sports today have their origins in Shinty, such as Hurling/Camogie, Field Hockey, and Ice Hockey (aka Ice Shinty). The sport was usually played on different holidays and for many years had no written rules or even a regulation of number of players allowed on the field. Today, Shinty has evolved greatly from its earlier stages and has produced fine athletes such as Ronald Ross, the only man to have scored more than 1000 goals in the sport.

Despite having evolved a great deal, one could still say there are limited rules to Shinty. Protective gear is worn, including a helmet and shin pads, but as with any sport bumps and bruises can still happen. Shinty is played with a caman (a curved wooden stick) and a hard leather ball (similar in size to a tennis ball). Two teams face each other and try to score in the opposite goal. In Shinty, both sides of the caman can be used to hit the ball and you may use any part of your body to stop/control the ball except your hands (unless you are goalie). You are also not allowed to use your feet to kick the ball. There are many other exciting aspects to Shinty and the Women’s Shinty practices, such as shies, cleeking, and Twee-tt’s game, however, these are best explained/experienced on the pitch!

As Scotland’s oldest University, it is only befitting that the St Andrews Women’s Shinty Team is steeped in traditions. One of our most well known traditions are our names. When a new member first joins the team they are given an Agnes Name by the Chieftain and after playing their first away match, an Agnes is given their full Shinty name. For example, my former name was Agnes Truly and I am now known as Shorty Buu! but you may just call me your Chieftain, or Queen of Fife, all are my titles. As Chieftain, I am in charge of the pub much like our Captain (Torsche) is in charge of the pitch. It is tradition that we go straight from the pitch to the pub following our Wednesday practice. Shinty tends to go out on more than just Wednesdays, if you are looking for a quite drink or a bit of a crazy night you can always count on at least a few team members to be keen to come along! At the pub, we practice our more eclectic talents (although in my opinion, still very important), such as building human pyramids or refining our continual assessment times. Whether we are still in our kit or sporting fancy dress, you will always find St Andrews Women’s Shinty team out on the town on a Wednesday night and covered in face-paint.

If you are interested, find us at the DRA pitches on the Wednesday of Freshers (12 September) from 1pm-3pm or at the Sports Fayre! You can also always find us on the pitches or at the pub every Wednesday, we practice on the fields next to DRA and are sponsored by The Rule (located on South Street)! We provide the equipment and promise to help you burn off the calories to justify one more drink in the pub. Check out our website for more information http://womens-shinty.weebly.com/ or send us an email with any questions at saintshinty@hotmail.co.uk.

The University of St Andrews Women’s Shinty Team does not encourage binge drinking or peer pressure on any level. Those who chose to participate are more than welcome to leave at anytime but to us will always be remembered as an Agnes.

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