If you’ve grown up in Nottingham or have brought up children of your own in the city, you’re likely to know what is meant if someone playfully came up to you, tapped you on the arm and exclaimed ‘Dob!’ before running away. However, if you’re not from Nottingham it’s likely you wouldn’t know what was happening!  

The chasing game where one person is ‘it’ or ‘on’ and runs around chasing others, who when caught become ‘it’. In Nottingham we know this as Dobby, often pronounced “Dob-eh" in ‘Nottinum Twang’ but is known more commonly elsewhere in the country by a host of other names “Tig” or “Tag” or even simply “it”. 

In fact, did you know it is only really known a “Dobby” or “Dob” in Nottingham and parts of the surrounding areas? Go into Derbyshire or even other areas of Nottingham for example and it’s more likely to be known as ‘Tiggy’. 

Back in 2013 the now defunct website UsVsTh3m (Us Vs Them) polled some 986 people across the British Isles to see the variations on the name. The most popular names for the game were "tag", "tig" or "tiggy" the rarer variants included "tuggy" in Newcastle. It appears in the south ‘Tag’ is the common name, whereas the further North the more likely it is named ‘tig’ or ‘tic’. 

The one exception it seems is ‘Dobby’ in Nottingham! 



A Dutch cartoon from the 1860’s of children playing what we in Nottingham call Dob or Dobby 

The origins of the names of this game are unknown, although it has probably been played for thousands of years.  

We are interested in the language used when children play and how this may change over time. 

 What do you call it? How and where did you play it? We’d love to hear from you!                                 

Some of the other playful terms local to Nottingham we’ve found include:  

croggy or croggeh – giving a friend a lift on the back of your bike 

Sucker – Lollipop 

Curby or ‘Curbeh’ a ball game played on the street, against a curb 

Bobbo’s – Horses 

Mardy – how someone might behave if they lost at a game, to sulk. 

Any word that ends in ‘y’ would be pronounced ‘eh’ in a true Nottingham accent. 


Variations & How to Play 

There have probably been as many variations of this game as there have been children that played it! Often adapted to suit the environment in which it is played. Here are a few that people have shared with us or been played at Play Projects we have worked at. 

Dobby off ground 

The person who is ‘it’ or ‘on’ can only dob those touching the ground, those who manage to get ‘off ground’ are safe. 

Dobby Scarecrow or ‘Stick in the mud’ 

Whoever is ‘it’ stays as ‘it’ until everyone is caught, once players are dobbed, they ‘freeze’ standing with arms outstretched until another player runs under their arms. In the past this used be done by running under their legs! 

Dobby Join on 

As you are ‘dobbed’ you join the chaser until everyone is caught. 

Dobby Hide & Seek 

A mixture of the above two games where the runner had to hide then return to a ‘post’ before the chaser can dob them. Also known as ‘Leeky’ or ‘1,2,3’ 


Usually played in the dark with torches. The chasers shine a light on the runners to catch them. Once caught, runners go to ‘jail’ until they are dobbed free by runners who have yet to be caught. An old favourite at Broxtowe Adventure Playground. Now played as a ‘Covid safe’ alternative at Toy Library play sessions.