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Turning up - the start of Ashbourne Shrovetide Football

The start of Ashbourne Shrovetide Football
The game starts when the ball is hurled into the waiting crowd

The Shrovetide football game starts in the Shaw Croft car park in the centre of Ashbourne - the ball is 'turned up' to the waiting crowd. The game always starts promptly at 2pm.

The ball spends much of the early part of the day in the Green Man where it is on display during the pre-game lunch until around 1.45pm.

Shortly before 2pm, the ball is been carried out of the Green Man Royal Hotel and the starter is 'guarded' as he carries it along Dig Street and into the Shaw Croft car park. The guards are necessary to prevent over-eager players or souvenir-hunters from stealing the ball!

As it is paraded through the town crowds cheer and follow the ball to its starting point - a specially-constructed plinth - where the 'starter' holds the ball aloft for all to see.

The players are reminded of the rules which state that the game must not be allowed to wander onto church ground or the memorial gardens and that residents' private property (including cars!) must be respected and should not be damaged.

Ashbourne Shrovetide Football
The 'starter' must be guarded as he carries the Shrovetide ball to the starting plinth

After that, a chorus of Auld Lang Syne is sung and the National Anthem.

Then, at 2pm, it's all up to the starter - he lifts the ball high and throws it into the waiting crowd.

Often, the ball is immediately lost from sight as it is grabbed by a large scrum of players, known as the 'hug'.

From there, it's anybody's guess as to where the ball will go and it can often be stuck in the same spot for many, many minutes as the opposing teams push against each other. At other times, it can move rapidly from one part of the town to another.

Frequently, the ball ends up stuck in the Henmore.

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