Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Saturday, 13 September 2008 16:33 UK

Statue commemorates ancient game

Shrovetide statue
The Shrovetide statue is an abstract view of three players

A statue has been unveiled to commemorate an ancient football game that is played in the streets of a Derbyshire town.

Ashbourne's Royal Shrovetide football game is played annually by hundreds of people from two areas of the town.

They try to pass a Shrovetide ball from one side of the town to the other in a game first played in the Middle Ages.

The 15-foot-high (4.6m) sculpture sits alongside the A52 at the centre of a new office development.

Neil Hawksworth, who designed the statue, said the aim was to create an attractive gateway into the town.

Businessman Peter Gadsby, a former Shrovetide footballer, said the aim was to provide a community facility with the sculpture as its centrepiece.

The sculpture is a modern, abstract design depicting "The Hug" - three players grasping the ball during the football game.

The two-day game is played over Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and involves players on the Up'ards and Down'ards teams striving to reach goals which are three miles apart.

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

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