Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football
February 20, 2007 4:22 AM   Subscribe

Royal Shrovetide Football is a traditional ball game played each year in Ashbourne, Derbyshire on a 'pitch' three miles long, lasting the two days of Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. It's been going since at least 1683 and likely much earlier.

After a ceremonial rendition of Auld Lang Syne and God Save The Queen, the cork-filled ball is thrown from the starting plinth into the crowd, and then it's the Up'ards versus the Down'ards, forming giant scrums (or 'hugs') of people moving up and down the River Henmore, with the aim of 'goaling the ball' at their respective goal post.
posted by chrismear (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sigh. No play-by-play.
posted by honest knave at 4:35 AM on February 20, 2007

But an awesome post. Yet Another Ancient Sport from these amazing Isles. (files away next to Cheese Rolling and Badger in the Bag)
posted by honest knave at 4:37 AM on February 20, 2007

Oh, man, this Shrovetide Football is so six months ago.

No, wait... so 300 years ago.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:01 AM on February 20, 2007

see also The ba', played in Orkney around New Year. (you tube)
posted by johnny novak at 5:11 AM on February 20, 2007

mair links.
posted by johnny novak at 5:13 AM on February 20, 2007

This seems like something out of Harry Potter.
posted by empath at 5:23 AM on February 20, 2007

Cue dozy USian 'soccer riot' joke in 5, 4...
posted by i_cola at 5:43 AM on February 20, 2007

also Uppies and Downies (obligatory you tube link)
posted by badrolemodel at 6:24 AM on February 20, 2007

This stuff is why Quidditch comes out looking so believable.
posted by Miko at 6:49 AM on February 20, 2007

I'd watch, but the King insists I make archery practice this weekend.
Also, let's not teach any Antipodeans how to play. Spoils all the fun and any chance of winning.
posted by Abiezer at 7:05 AM on February 20, 2007

The linked site does an amazing job of not really telling you what happens during a game. Maybe I missed the magic "What The Game Is Actually Like" page, but it seemed to gloss over critical details like how the ball changes hands, what kind of tactics do the defenders employ, how do these big hugs decide what to do? Can you be sneaky and run in a very round-about path to avoid detection? It's a super interesting post, I just wish the BBC site was better.
posted by heresiarch at 7:16 AM on February 20, 2007

posted by chrismear at 7:35 AM on February 20, 2007


You can get some sense of the gameplay in this link. One of the more interesting aspects is that as the ball get close to a goal, lots are drawn to determine which player will be allowed to score.

My Fantasy Shrovetide Football team is unbeatable this year.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:44 AM on February 20, 2007

Ubiquitous YouTube link:

I think it's this game that the term 'derby', as in 'local derby', comes from.
posted by vbfg at 7:47 AM on February 20, 2007

It also reminds me a bit of Clive Barker's story, "In the Hills, The Cities"
posted by empath at 12:12 PM on February 20, 2007

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