Why does Ashbourne love Shrovetide so much?

Why does Ashbourne love Shrovetide so much?

Spectators jump the fence to flee the nearing hug. Photo: Tayte Fordham

Every year, the young, old and canine flock to Ashbourne for its giant medieval football game between the up’ards and the down’ards.

Despite bitterly cold weather, the atmosphere this year is one of excitement and fun, a strange spectacle for those unfamiliar with the tradition.

Why Shrovetide?

Storyhub spoke to some of those in the town awaiting the “turning up” of the game.

Shane Ridley, a down’ard, said: “The game brings everyone together.

“Ashbourne loves tradition. It’s an old-fashioned town. You don’t have anything new here.”

The game is not just for those living close-by though. Every year thousands from all over the country come to Ashbourne to watch or partake in what is now a renowned event.

Matt Dutch from Spondon, said: “It’s good for the area. It’s been going since medieval times. For areas to have traditions is always a good thing because it gives interest globally.

“I remember being in Poland once and they were showing it on television. It puts Ashbourne on the map.”

The crowd is full of people running into new and old friends, neighbours and colleagues. It is a real opportunity for the community to come together.

Melanie Flint said: “I love the atmosphere. You see people you don’t see any other time of the year.”

Medics help after a man suffers a broken wrist. Image: Jonathan Prosser.

Shrovetide has not lost its medieval roots – the game can be somewhat dangerous so there are plenty of stewards and medical professionals on hand.

Lee Brady from Wales, said: “My favourite thing about Shrovetide is the opportunity to go in there and get a bit violent.”