Imagine playing a game of football with your mates, but instead of using your feet, you use your hands.

And you have a lot of mates.

The entire town of Ashbourne are your mates.

Shrovetide football is a game which is played with a ball (of course) but it’s a sport like no other.

Here’s a quick guide.

What is it and how is it played?

Based in the historic market town, the game is played over two eight hour periods over two days (Tuesday and Wednesday).

There are barely any rules and the aim of the game is to score in your selected goal depending on what team you are playing for.

There are two teams, the Up’Ards and the Down’Ards, and this is determined on whether you were born up or down from the Henmore Brook you were born on.

After the ball is ‘turned up’ to start the game, both teams get the ball back to their own goal, rather than scoring in the opponent’s goal.

Who can play?

There is no limit on players and many who play won’t touch the ball.

Anyone who fancies their chances can play but the majority of the people in the ‘hug’ (the group of players jostling for the ball) are from Ashbourne.

What time does the game start?

The game starts at 2pm each day and the match will continue until 10pm. A new ball is released and play restarts if the goal is scored before 5.30pm. However, the game will end for the day if a ball is goaled after that time.

Are there any rules?

Surprisingly yes.

Playing after 10pm is forbidden.

You can’t hide the ball and you cannot murder anyone.

You have to tap the ball THREE times to score.

Why is it royal?

It has its Royal title since the HRH the Prince of Wales turned up the ball in 1928 making it the Royal Shrovetide Football Match.

More recently however, the current Prince of Wales also fulfilled the role in 2003.

Is it worth going down?

One word, yes.

It’s exciting, thrilling and brings the community together.

I can’t go to watch it, how do I keep updated with it?

StoryHub is covering the event from start to finish and many other local news outlets will be reporting on the game.

So if you can’t get down there, put your feet up, eat your pancakes and watch the drama unfold.

StoryHub’s Twitter feed can be found here