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Page last updated at 17:17 GMT, Tuesday, 2 February 2010
What is the Royal Ashbourne Shrovetide Football game?

Royal Ashbourne Shrovetide Football

Royal Ashbourne Shrovetide Football dates back centuries - possibly more than 1,000 years.

But if you are expecting something similar to a normal football game, then think again!

In a nutshell:

The game is a huge, moving brawl which makes its way through the town on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.

There are two teams - Up'ards and Down'ards - made up of hundreds of people from in and around the town with their affiliation being determined by their place of birth.

The object of the game is to get the leather-bound, cork-filled ball to your goalpost and score.

Royal Ashbourne Shrovetide Football
A huge crowd waits for the ball to be turned up

There are rules to the game very few but the main ones are to keep play out of church yards, cemeteries, memorial gardens and private homes.

Transporting the ball in cars and murdering your opponent are also forbidden!

The game is preceded by a luncheon at the Green Man Hotel in the centre of the town where the ball is the guest of honour, along with the person chosen to turn the ball up, or start the game.

After lunch, the ball is paraded to the starting plinth and, at 2 o'clock thrown, to the waiting, baying crowd.

Once the ball is scored it becomes the property of the player who scored it and that particular game ends.

If it is not scored before 22.00 it remains the property of the person who turned it up.

Each ball is used for only one game. If it is scored before 17.00 a new game is started with a new ball. Different balls are used on each of the two days.

The game is watched by people from all over the town - and many travel from other parts of Derbyshire, the UK and the world to witness the event.

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