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Last Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008, 13:28 GMT
Fake ball probe hits ancient game
Shrovetide 2008
The game is noted for its physical nature
Allegations of skulduggery have rocked one of the UK's most ancient sports.

Shrovetide Football, dating from as early as the 12th Century, involves two teams trying to take a ball to opposite ends of Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

Organisers say they are looking into claims a dummy ball was used to confuse players during this year's event.

But local pub landlord Mark Harrison said: "I don't think there is much action that you can take really because there's no real rules in Shrovetide."

Hundreds of people take part in the game which involves scrums pushing through the town's streets.

'Heritage degraded'

The Up'ards team won the second day of the two-day event on 6 February one-nil.

Claims have since been made that a decoy ball was used to confuse the Down'Ards team.

Mr Harrison, who runs the Coach and Horses, which is popular among the Down'Ards, said: "It might not mean a lot to the person who had done it but it is degrading the game, rather then the people involved.

"It is degrading the heritage of the town."

He added: "As long as they sort it out for next year, so if someone brings another ball into play then it is void, then I am sure that will do the job."

Full investigation

The official ball is specially made, with a painted crest to identify it.

Nigel Brown, from the Shrovetide committee, said they would be discussing the matter with players.

"There are allegations of another Shrovetide-type ball being used as a dummy ball - but dummy balls have been part of the game for a long time now.

"So as to whether this was a Shrovetide-type ball like the allegations have been made, or whether it is just a medicine ball of some description - though we are led to believe it had some painting on it."

The Shrovetide Committee is having a full investigation on 26 February.

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22 Feb 07 |  Derbyshire
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10 Mar 06 |  Derbyshire
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