Royal Ashbourne Shrovetide: What to expect on Ash Wednesday

Royal Ashbourne Shrovetide: What to expect on Ash Wednesday

Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide
This Shrovetider clearly has a bird's eye view of the action. Photo: Max Taylor.

After six hours of hectic stop-start play on Shrove Tuesday, Tom Leighton scored the first goal of Shrovetide 2020 for the Up’ards at Sturston Mill. A

Already slight favourites to win this year, they now head into day two with the all-important advantage.

The Up’ards fell to a shock defeat last year in what was a close contest.

The Down’ards have a score to settle on Ash Wednesday. It was a tough day for them yesterday, and the ball didn’t really make it in their direction for large periods.

In less than ideal conditions, the late goal would have been especially deflating. But it wouldn’t be a surprise should they manage to draw, considering the fact that five of the last 10 Royal Shrovetide games have ended all square.

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

Weeks of rain leading up to the game resulted in wet and muddy conditions yesterday, and similar weather can be expected today. Following a snowy start this morning in Ashbourne, rain is forecast for rest of the day.

The game will, once again, restart at 2pm and could continue until 10pm, but it will end for the day if the ball is goaled after 5:30pm. A new ball will be turned up from the brick plinth in the town’s Shaw Croft car park.

University of Derby students took part in Shrovetide football for the first time yesterday, playing for the opening 15 minutes.

“It was chaos,” said Henry Bartlett, from the BA (Hons) Football Journalism course.

“I’ve played rugby before, but there’s nothing like this [where] 40 people are piling on top of you. It’s an absolute melee. [It looks] scary and frightening, but it’s good fun and everyone’s enjoying themselves.”

Ed Hague-Saunders, also studying football journalism, was in the thick of the hug when the ball was turned up.

“My shoe came off within the first minute I think,” he said.

“There were lots of people standing on my foot, which has done some damage I assume. It was an experience; fair play to everyone who does that all day, it’s amazing.”