There was a dramatic conclusion to this year’s annual Shrovetide event – as the Down’ards snatched a last-minute equaliser to deny the Up’ards a 1-0 victory.
But the story behind this final twist is even more intriguing, as it involves a lost ball, a jumper and a visit to a player’s parents’ house.
The Down’ards always looked like they had the advantage on day two of the Ashbourne event, taking the early initiative to try to get themselves back into proceedings after going a goal down the previous night.
But the Up’ards held their nerve and, at one stage, looked to again be in the ascendancy, as a huge break saw them take the play away from the town centre and into the wet, boggy fields on the way to the Sturston goal.
After 5.30pm, the Down’ards knew they would have to settle for a draw but the game quickly fell into confusion after the ball became lost for quite some time.
It was not, however, completely missing – in fact, one player had managed to sneak it away from the crowds and back into town.
Down’ard player Sascha Cinavas told Storyhub: “(The ball was in the bushes at the park and I saw it go in the bush – and I tripped over it.
“So I thought: ‘Right, I’m having this’ – so I whacked it up my jumper and then I walked all the way through the park.
“I got to the memorial gates and walked up towards Belle Vue Road and along there to the top. I then went to my mum and dad’s house – I didn’t have my phone on me so I was asking what time it was.
“I knew I’d got to go so I left and walked down the road, walked down to the Shrovetide statue, over the roundabout to the fields and then just walked all the way through, came out through the darkness, jumped into the water and here we are. I didn’t goal it but everyone plays so hard.”
Having jumped into the water to rejoin the rest of the Down’ards, it was then left to Craig Frith to goal the ball at Clifton to draw his side level and bring Shrovetide 2020 to an end.
Fellow Down’ard Paul Spencer told Storyhub about the confusion and delight at the situation.
He said: “When the ball went into the ditch, no-one knew where it was, because there were a lot of brambles and stuff.
“There was a lot of commotion and a lot of dummy runs going on. We’d heard different names had run off with it and we got told to go down to the goal. We turn up at the goal and there’s about 30/40 of us, all making different phone calls to different people, trying to find out who’s got it.
“And then, next minute, a lad on his own has just jumped in the river with the ball. We were thinking: ‘What’s going on, that’s unbelievable, we never heard anything about it’. It’s crazy.”