Blog: Shrovetide, dumb Decisions and the discovery of ladness

Blog: How one dumb decision made led me to discover the joys of Shrovetide

People watch on as the Ball tumbles its way around the town
People watch on as the Ball tumbles its way around the town - Photo by Harry Potton

Fun fact, to start with, I have the mental backbone of a noodle soaked in magma.

I can adamantly think over an action for several weeks. Yet, on the day of the event, do a quick heel turn upon one of my friends saying, “what have you got to lose.”

The worst part is that they’re usually right and I have a better time in the new scenario than I would have had in the original.

A situation which, sadly on my part, once again proved correct.

After four weeks of talking myself out of it, I found myself in the middle of a crowd of angry drunk men.

Them, wanting to do nothing more than kicking my face in until I was foaming at the mouth more than the Archbishop of Canterbury at pride.

I had found myself checking into Ashbourne. More specifically, Shrovetide.

The barbaric game and how you win

If you’ve never been to Shrovetide, the rules are relatively straightforward, a little too straightforward some may say.

The aim is simple. You must get a ball from the centre of the court to the opponents’ corner by the end of the match.

Sound easy?

What about if: the opponent’s corner is 3 miles from the start, the match can last up to 16 hours, the court is not a court but an entire town and, the worst part; the only rule is “don’t kill anyone.”

Actually, no I said that wrong; the rule is “don’t kill anyone on purpose.”

Not even a drunk Henry VIII would think of a game that bat-shitly British.

Yet, there I was, standing depressed in a waterproof mac, waiting for that ball to be tossed up so I can run in the complete opposite direction.

However, like an intoxicated man making out with a lamp, a spark went off in my head that day.

I know this isn’t the best place to do it, but I feel like I must come out.

Don’t judge me on my choices, but I think I might be a lad.

I can’t be a lad, I’m just Harry

Believe me, I’m shocked too.

I saw that ball be chucked and, for some unknown primal urge-ish reason, charged at it like a bull on methamphetamines.

One hour later, I find myself in the middle of a scrap, mud down my new shoes and loving every second of it.

I would have never thought that hearing the screams of angry drunk blokes, cursing using every swear word which won’t get them charged for violating a human right, could be so much fun.

I am so glad that I didn’t stay behind as I have probably found a new tradition that I will gladly be partaking in, annually.

Just goes to show, you won’t know if you’ll like being shoved by 300 men until you try it.

I know that’s not a widely applicable moral, but it probably will have its uses somewhere (most likely on a shady blacklisted website).

Shrovetide takes place on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. Go if you’re willing to get smacked in the face while having a good laugh.