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No Haggis on the Menu at Birnam this year.


writes Shane Fenton

Not many more of these programme comparisons left to do as what should have been the 2020 Highland Games season draws to close in a couple of weeks. Seems no time at all since i penned the Blackford version.Hopefully they have been of some interest in a season like never before and hopefully never again.

This time around we feature BIRNAM HIGHLAND GAMES which should have been this Saturday. From the program of 44 years ago in 1976 to last year. I attended both and everyone in between, and i have to say i haven't witnessed rain at a Games like i did at Birnam last year.
Traditionally the Games are always held on 'the last Saturday in August' as the weather beaten sign beneath the tress and shrubbery a few miles down the road from the Games park tells you for 12 months of the year!

The program[one sheet folded over] back in 1976 cost you 5p nowadays an informative 48 pager sets you back £2 30p got you into the park area another 10p wasrequired to be handed over however if you wished the luxury of sitting in the enclosure on a ring side seat.

Highland Dancing has always been popular, the winner of the senior highland fling nowadays picks up a prize of £20 back in the day it was £3.75p. The rules stated that Competitors in events 11 and 12 had to dance 'not less than six steps'.over my head... sure Jean Swanston can shed some light!

On the track, the top prize was the £14 which went to the winner of the 100 yards, last yrar the victor in the 90 metres carried off £100. There was only one race for Youth athletes back in the day nowadays there is five. A popular event in 76' was the senior and junior schools relays. The program stated that there was Valuable prizes to the winners including a trophy presented by Col. Sir A.M. Lyle and Officers of the Scottish Horse. These events are no more but there is relays for Open and Youth competitors.
Cyclists had 4 events in 76' a 440 yards scr, 880 yards and 2 miles handicaps and a Consolation race. There still is four with a 1600 and Deil tak the Hindmost replacing the the 440 and consolation. Lets not forget the solo pipers the most tuneful in the Pibroch marches away with a prize of £40 today compared to £13 all those years ago.

The heavy events are always popular. as they are at all Games. The winner of each discipline in 76' picked up £5.50 there was also a special prize of £5 for any competitor throwing over 140 feet in the 16lb hammer. Now each event has a top prize of £50 and £100 overall. Birnam is also a venue for Perthshire HGA competition in Dancing and Heavies. There's also a few local events, in 1976 you were a local if you had resided for the past 12 months within 15 miles of Birnam, now a local is defined as someone born in Perthshire or living within a 5 mile radius of a PHGA member Games for the past 6 months.

The Childrens and Kiltie race always attracts good numbers although there has been some dubious outfits in the latter. Events no longer on the programme are Tug o War and High Jump.
Birnam has always been synonamous with the World Haggis Eating Championship, the fun event always attracts the attention of the spectators and the media. Sadly this year TH Stevenson & Sons family butcher the suppliers of the Scottish delicacy to the competition won't be as busy as they would usually be on the morning of the Games.

Published: 2020-08-28 10:16:17