Push it. Push it real good.

With the World Cup starting I began to wonder why football is popular around the world. I think one of the reasons is it’s simplicity. You can play a game of football using little more than a ball and some t-shirts to make some goal posts. I think the same reason accounts for the popularity (albeit on a smaller scale) of shove ha’penny.

The premise is simple. You shove a ha’penny. For those not in the know, ha’penny (pronounced hay p’nny in a thick lancastrian accent) is an old pre decimal coin worth, surprisingly, half a penny. Slightly smaller than a two pence coin they were the ideal size to slide across a table top.

The game did have some rules and in many places would be played on a shove ha’penny board.

A classic Shove Ha'Penny board

 The board would allow the game to be played in different ways. As shown in the left hand side of the board, the different sections can be numbered. You then shove your 3 or 5 pennies down to see how many points you could get. Alternatively the aim can be to get the coins to finish within all the different sections.

The board hangs over the edge of a table. I'm flicking the coin here but you could shove it with the palm of your hand if you wished.

I decided to have a go. It is more difficult than it looks! Shove Ha’penny used to be a popular game in pubs around Blackburn and people would take the game extremely seriously. It was not uncommon to find one side of the coins polished until it was smooth to give a ‘smooth’ and a ‘rough’ side of the coins. Did you ever play the game? Did you play to any different rules? Put your thoughts in the comments section.


1 Response to “Push it. Push it real good.”

  1. 1 Kevin Kelly December 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    My grandmother had a shove ha’penny board and my brother and I used to play it with her when we were little 5 or 6 years old (in the mid 1960’s). I don’t know what happened to the board

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Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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