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Ashbourne Shrovetide Football
The History of Ashbourne Shrovetide Football
The Shrovetide football game is as old as the hills and has been played for centuries - possibly for over 1,000 years.
The origins of the annual Ashbourne Shrovetide football game have long been lost in the midsts of time after a fire at the Royal Shrovetide Committee office in the 1890s.
The earliest surviving reference to the game is from 1683 when Charles Cotton (who penned the fly-fishing supplement for Izaac Walton's 'The Compleat Angler') wrote about it.
There are many versions as to the true origins of the game - but the most popular seems to be the theory that the 'ball' was originally a head tossed into the waiting crowd following an execution.
There have also been several attempts to ban the game - the most famous being in 1349 when Edward III tried to outlaw it as he claimed it interfered with his archery practice!
And in 1878 the game was briefly banned after a man drowned in the Henmore. Local land-owners signed petitions and refused to let the game take place on their properties.
The game has received true 'Royal Assent' only twice - in 1928 the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, turned up the ball. This is when the event officially earned the designation Royal Shrovetide Football.
Later, in 2003, HRH Prince Charles turned up the ball. He had agreed to start the game for the two previous years but had to cancel due to Foot-and-Mouth, which forced the cancellation of the game, and the death of his aunt, Princess Maragaret.
Records show that 1943 was the first year in which the ball was goaled by a woman. Doris Mugglestone goaled for the Up'ards and Doris Sowter goaled for the Down'ards - both on Ash Wednesday.
The game is played every Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday and consists of two teams.
last updated: 31/12/2009 at 17:30