Blog: How to survive Shrovetide and enjoy it

Blog: "Shrovetide in Ashbourne is one of the most peculiar medieval games ever"

ball is being thrown
The ball is being thrown into the crowd - the game begins.

If you are not from Ashbourne and you are saying that you know what Shrovetide is, you must surely be lying (unless you have a very interesting passion for peculiar medieval games).

To explain this game, which is a combination of football, basketball, and rugby, is not a hard task: the town gets separated into two groups (depends, from which part people are from).

Then one ball is thrown into a mob of very excited people and the team that scores the goal wins. To understand this game, you will need to go to Ashbourne and see this unique event yourself.

But before you do that, take a few minutes to read these three ultimate rules (that the author of this post learned the hard way), to make this experience as enjoyable as possible.

  1. It is going to be cold

Ashbourne is not in the North Pole, but for some reason, the temperature might confuse you to think so. So, if you do not want to spend all day repeating the question “Why it is so cold in here?”, it would be better to put on the warmest coat and gloves you own. They will save your day, I promise.

2. There is mud. Lots of it. Everywhere.

At first, it may seem that this information is incorrect because while everyone is preparing for the game, many areas of the town look nice.

But once the ball has been thrown into the crowd, this beautiful sight is over. Masses of people follow the teams around everywhere and their constant steps make the ground’s consistency similar to chocolate brownie dough. So, if you are not planning to go shopping for new shoes any time soon, I would suggest wearing a pair of old boots you don’t need anymore.

3. DO NOT get in the crowd’s way

To watch this game from a safe distance is an interesting and entertaining experience. However, if you accidentally get in its way, all the fun is gone. Before the game started, I spoke with bridge officer Ian Wilson (58), and he gave good advice: “When a ball comes your way, run away because you can lose your shoe.”

When the ball AND the crowd of people will come your way, you will not only lose your shoe it also will make you rethink all your life choices because being crushed by the mass of people is not fun at all (speaking from personal experience).

And although I did ruin my shoes and almost died, it was one of the most peculiar yet entertaining experiences I have ever had.