Tyne & Wear

Hundreds gather for Alnwick Shrovetide game

Alnwick Shrovetide Image copyright PA
Image caption The game was started by the family of Shrovetide supporter Eric Hately

Northumberland's annual Shrovetide football match has attracted about 500 spectators.

Onlookers gathered to watch Alnwick's version of the Shrove Tuesday tradition, started in the late 1800s.

Image copyright PA
Image caption There are few rules to the game, and teams do not wear matching strips

The clash, between teams from two rival parishes, is usually started by the Duke of Northumberland throwing the match ball from Alnwick Castle.

This year's match was kicked off by relatives of Eric Hately, a long-time Shrovetide player who recently died.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Teams are made up of men and women from Alnwick's two parishes

The match between the parishes of St Paul and St Michael takes place on land surrounding the castle.

Goals, known as hales, are 440 yards (402 metres) apart and the game ends when one team scores twice. This year St Michaels emerged victorious.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The event is noted for its tough tackling and players can kick or handle the ball

Teams, who can kick or handle the ball, are made up of men and women, but there are no strips, limits on player numbers or recognised pitch markings.

Once the game, typified by no-holds-barred tackling, is over, the ball is kicked into the River Aln, prompting a scramble to reach it first and carry it to the opposite bank.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The ball is kicked into the River Aln at the end of the game, prompting a mad scramble to retrieve it

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