By Shannon Mcloughlan & Ollie King

Hundreds of players, extremely muddy and waterlogged surfaces and an six-hour half – the first day of Ashbourne’s annual Shrovetide football match was a far cry from the Premier League.

But Shrove Tuesday certainly saw a lot of action as the Up’ards took on the Down’ards across streets, fields and rivers to battle for the pride of the town.  

As 2pm approached, legendary Shrovetide player, Andrew Lemon, turned up the ball in the Shaw Croft car park to start the game.  

Lemon earned his legendary status 40 years ago after goaling the ball for the Up’ards at Struston Mill.  

Legendary player Andrew Lemon before her turned up the ball.
Photo credit: Alex Canner

Once the ball was in play, players scrambled to earn possession of the ball in what was set-up to be a feisty encounter between the two sides. The ball remained within the car park for the first hour until the Up’ards took control.  

Those born north of Henmore Brooke controlled the flow of the ball as they pushed to open the scoring in this medieval fixture.  

As the ball moved towards Sturston Mill, medics were called in as players began to succumb to injuries around 5pm.  

Shoes were lost, players were injured and tensions rose as the sun set over Ashbourne. 

With 10pm growing closer and the deadlock yet to be broken, the game was all set to finish 0-0, setting up for a final day showdown on Ash Wednesday.  

However, at 8.14pm, a new Shrovetide hero rose from the ashes as Tom Leighton wrote his name into the history books.  

The Up’ards took a 1-0 lead at Struston Mill after Leighton was drawn by fellow Up’ards to goal the ball and give his side the crucial lead.  

Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide
Tom Leighton with the ball he goaled for the Up’ards at Shrovetide. Photo: Liz Ford.

Huge tribal cries erupted from the crowd as Leighton smashed the ball three times against the Mill. The man of the hour was then carried to the local Greenman pub to celebrate the Up’ards lead.  

And it will all start again at 2pm today – but will it be a victory for the Up’ards or the Down’ards? Only time will tell, but you can follow all the action from day two at Storyhub’s Shrovetide live blog