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THE GAMES WE PLAYED. 3. Drie Blikkies [Three Tins] [4min read]

3 Blikkies / tins

Many popular street games were cheap.  Often they had to be; money was tight in the townships.

Kennetjie was free except for a bit of labour to find the appropriate branch for a  hitting stick, and then carving the kennetjie.  Drie blikkies [three tins] ranked well as one of the cheapest and required three empty food cans and a tennis ball.  Balls were usually old throw-aways from older siblings or parents. None of us in the street really played tennis.  A tennis court was located two suburbs away from us.

The three cans were stacked on top of each other.  They packed easier if the bottom can was upside down.  Placing the top can was the challenge without the rest falling down. The best place for the tower of cans was on a street drain cover which was closer to the side of the road, so that one did not have to remove the cans when a car passed.

From several paces away, the bowler had a choice of an over- or an underhand throw to knock down the tins.  If successful, the bowler ran to rebuild the stack of cans.

In turn, the fielders had to rush to retrieve the ball and attempt to tag the bowler with the ball before the tins were re-erected.

The underhand bowling style was more accurate, but it was a slower ball and fielders stood closer to retrieve the ball which increased the chance of outing the bowler if the cans were not all up quickly.

The overhand throw had reduced accuracy, but the ball would bounce off farther and improve one’s chances of re-stacking the tins, but, they too, would scatter farther with a harder throw.

If fielders stood too far back for an impending overhead throw,  one could switch to a quick underhand lob instead, followed by a mad scramble to restack the tins.

It was one of the few games when the girls of the street joined in.  Their softball style underarm throws were quite accurate, but the fielders crowded in on them for quick tagging with the ball.  it was probably a good situation for sledging, but there was no such underhand villainy with drie blikkies.

A bowler was allowed three successive throws to knock down the stack.  With enough players, there were two teams.  This resulted in excessive cheering and screaming from both sides during the scramble to rebuild the tower of tins or to tag the bowler with the ball before the tins were re-erected.

I think part of the popularity of this game was the clatter that the cans made on the road after a direct strike on the pile of tins.


How many paces from the thrower’s line to the tins?  Five?

Did you place the cans upside down?


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