Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football 2019

Players hands reach for the ball as it briefly comes into view

Players hands reach for the ball as it briefly comes into view - Credit: Archant

Thousands flocked to the town on a bright Shrove Tuesday for this year’s annual event.

Following the traditional lunch held at Ashbourne Leisure Centre, the procession made its way to the plinth at Shaw Croft where local farmer and businessman Paul Harrison – a keen supporter of the Shrovetide game – ‘turned up’ the ball at 2pm. The close-packed crowd made play difficult to follow at times with periods of stalemate mixed with frenetic action as the players moved through the town and into the river. Play continued through worsening weather and dark skies but the day ended without a goal being scored.

On Wednesday, local businessman and firefighter Paul Holmes was the turner-up. Both the Down’ards and Up’ards (those born either south or north of Henmore Brook) had high hopes of a win and fewer onlookers left the way clear for a lively and exciting day’s play. It wasn’t until around 8.42pm, though, that Richard Smith scored at Clifton Mill to take victory for the Down’ards. Another year over and, including five draws, it was the Down’ards first win since 2010 – time to celebrate!