Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football
Ashbourne is a small town sitauated in Derbyshire,England. Here every year on Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) and Ash Wednesday a football game is played through the streets of the town. It is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years and who's beginnings are lost in the mists of time.
As in a normal football game there are two teams each wanting to score at either end of a marked pitch. These teams are called the Up'ards and the Down'ards. The town is split by the rivers Dove and Henmore and traditionally those livig or born north of the river are Up'ards and those born or living south of the river are Down'ards, though this has become somewhat hazy recently due to the large number of new people living in the town. Anyone is allowed to play in the game, though mainly men take part. There was once a childrens version of the game but this has not been seen for many years. With usually over 200 players and thousands more spectating this must be one of the largest football games in the world.
The goals are set three miles apart 1.5 mikes from the centre of the town. The Up'ards being at the site of the former Sturston Mill and the Down'ards being at the site of the former Clifton Mill. Technically anywhere between these two points is the pitch and so every year roads are cut off and traffic comes to a stand still as the game is played through the streets. The game is carried, kicked and run with through streets, over fields and down the river. The ball is turned up from a plinth in Shaw Croft car park at 2 pm on each day and is then free to be scored.
Turning up the ball
The turning up of the ball signifies the start of the game. It is a great honour to be asked to turn up a ball and only those who have shown great commitment in the game or for the town are allowed to do so. The title of "Royal" was added to the game when in 1926 the then Prince of Wales turned up the ball, this tradition shall hopefully be repeated in 2003 when Prince Charles the Prince of Wales wil follow in his predessecors footsteps. Before the turning up there is a Shrovetide lunch held at the Green Man and Blacks Head Royal Hotel attended by the Shrovetide Comittee and other prominent members of the town. The Turner-upper is then traditionally carried from the hotel to the plinth where he or she makes a speech. Two songs are then sung, Auld Lang Syne and the national anthem and the ball is turned up.
Rules of the game
To make the game fair there are certain rules which all players must abide by. The ball cannot be taken by any vehicle to the goal, it must be carried or kicked. All games finish at 12pm even if it has not been scored, however if a ball is scored before 5pm another is thrown up. The person who scores the ball keeps it but it if it not then it is given back to the person who turned it up.