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‘No rules’ football match turns Derbyshire town into chaotic two-day brawl

The city of Ashbourne in Derbyshire witnessed chaotic scenes on Tuesday (13 February) with 1000’s of individuals brawling within the streets, turning the historic market city into one thing like an enormous rugby scrum – and related scenes are anticipated on Wednesday.

Royal Shrovetide Football Ashbourne
Rival groups ‘Up’ards’ and ‘Down’ards’ battle for the ball within the streets in the course of the Royal Shrovetide Soccer match in Ashbourne, Derbyshire
Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Ashbourne is house to one in all Britain’s oldest and bloodiest sporting traditions: the Royal Shrovetide Soccer Match, performed yearly on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.

The sport, often known as ‘hug ball’, has been performed within the Derbyshire city since round 1667, although its origins are thought to this point again to the 12th Century.

Play can final for eight hours every day, as rival groups push and shove one another in a collection of brutal scrums generally known as ‘hugs’ in an try to get a ball into one in all two targets which are positioned three miles aside at both finish of the city. These groups are generally known as The Up’ards and Down’ards – historically gamers who had been born north and south respectively of Henmore Brook, the stream that runs by way of Ashbourne.

The match begins at 2pm on Shrove Tuesday and might go on till 10pm. If a objective is scored earlier than 6pm, one other ball is ‘turned up’ and the sport recommences. If a objective comes after 6pm, the sport ends for that day and continues on Ash Wednesday.

This yr’s recreation bought off to a really sluggish, irritating begin because of the large crowds, however the Down’ards lastly took the honours simply earlier than 9m on Tuesday, when gymnasium proprietor Tom Boulton-Lear scored. The sport will proceed immediately at 2pm.

The game is called ‘no guidelines’ soccer, however there are literally just a few guidelines: no homicide or manslaughter or ‘pointless violence’, no hiding the ball in a purse or coat or transporting it in a automobile, and no trampling over graveyards. Other than that, it is very a lot a free-for-all.


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