Monday, 15 February 2010
Its that time of year again when the maddest game of football in the world takes place in Ashbourne Derbyshire.
Ashbourne in Derbyshire is host to one of the Oldest Shrovetide football games in England.
It was first recorded in 1682, though thought to date back to the 12th Century ,various attempts were made to suppress it over the years.
It has continued unabated ever since, and by 1928 it had become so respectable that the then Prince of Wales was invited to start the game. From that year on it was known as the Royal Shrovetide Football game.
The Game is played annually on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, and consists of two teams, one from anyone born to the North of the River Henmore, and one from people born South of the river, these are known as Upards and Downards.
The Goals are on the sites of Old mills, one at Clifton and one at Sturston, these are three miles apart.
A goal is scored by a player striking the mill wheel three times with the Ball.
The ball may be kicked, carried or thrown, but generally proceeds in a series of hugs invisible to the spectator. The game can last for many hours, finishing well after dark.
The game starts at 2pm in the afternoon, when a specially prepared ball - larger than a football and filled with cork which weighs around 4lbs is thrown in by a visiting guest of honor. The balls used for the Shrovetide games are made by Ashbourne man John Harrison who is turning up the ball this year.
The hand sewn leather balls are filled with cork chippings.
The balls are a work of art and take a few weeks to paint.
If the balls are goaled, then it will become the proud possession of the person who has goaled it. If no-one goals it, then the person that turned-up the ball gets to take it home.
The game starts in the Shawcroft Carpark (back of Somerfield supermarket), See my detailed map lower down.
I have provided a detailed interactive Shrovetide map lower down in this post which will enable you to see all the key points of the playing field which 3 miles between the two goals at Sturston and Clifton.
Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football is something that you just have to see to belive your eyes.
Here is a video I made of the game last year to give you an idea of what its like :
This year the game takes place on 16th and 17th of February.
On Tuesday Derbyshire MP Patrick McLoughlin will be turning up the ball at 2.00pm. And on Wednesday John Harrison who has been making Ashbourne Shrovetide balls for the last 20 years will have the honour.
I have lots of photographs and several videos from past games that you can view :
Photographs from the 2008 Ashbourne Shrovetide Football game.
Photographs from the 2007 Ashbourne Shrovetide Football game.
Photographs from the 2006 Ashbourne Shrovetide Football game.
Photographs from the 2004 Ashbourne Shrovetide Football game.
Photographs from the 2002 Ashbourne Shrovetide Footbal game.
Video footage from the 2007 Ashbourne Shrovetide Footaball game.
Extra video footage from the 2007 Ashbourne Shrovetide Football game.
I will post my 2010 Ashbourne Shrovetide Football video this Friday, so subscribe to my Youtube channel if you don't want to miss it.
I have created an interactive map which shows all the key points in the game such as the turning up plinth where the ball is thrown, the two goals and the Henmore which is what determines if you are a Upard or a Downard, Click the link below the map for a large view of all the points of interest :
View Ashbourne Shrovetide Football game map. in a larger map
In 2011 The Ashbourne Shrovetide Football game will take place on Tuesday 8th March 2011 and Wednesday 9th March 2011. Jim Boden from Cubley and Frank Lomas from Kniveton will be starting the 2011 games.
Put these dates in your Diary.