Derby

Royal Shrovetide Football: Ashbourne match begins

Players fight for the ball during the annual Shrovetide football match in Ashbourne Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The 2020 Royal Shrovetide Football match started at 14:00

A brutal game of football that sees two sides battle it out to score at opposing ends of a town has begun.

The Royal Shrovetide football match in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, sees the Up'Ards and Down'Ards attempt to move a ball to posts at two ends of the town.

The ancient and bruising event began following the "turning up" ceremony at 14:00 GMT on Shrove Tuesday and is due to finish on Wednesday.

The Down'Ards emerged victorious following a 1-0 victory in March 2019.

Image copyright AFP/Getty images
Image caption A couple sit inside a boarded-up coffee shop ahead of the annual Royal Shrovetide football match
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The Up'Ards and Down'Ards move the ball across the town

Thousands of people take part in the match with many heading to Ashbourne to watch the mayhem.

The town carefully prepares for the annual event by boarding up shops and cafes to avoid people clattering into glass windows.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The match can get fierce as players battle for the ball

Guest of honour Andrew Lemon threw the elaborately painted ball into the crowd, on Tuesday, commencing the start of the match.

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Image caption Andrew Lemon "turned up" the ball from the plinth at Shaw Croft car park

Patrick Kerr is due to do the same on Wednesday.

Prince Charles and the late Nottingham Forest and Derby County football manager Brian Clough are among the famous names chosen to "turn up" the ball in previous years.

Image copyright AFP/Getty images
Image caption Royal Shrovetide Football is believed to have been played annually in Ashbourne since 1667

The two teams will battle it out across fields, streets, car parks and waterways late into the evening as they aim to "goal" the ball against millstones about three miles apart.

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