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Photographs - Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football 2017

PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 April 2017

Cheers as the crowds are shown the commemorative hand-painted ball for the first time

Cheers as the crowds are shown the commemorative hand-painted ball for the first time

andrew eyley

Photographs from Ashbourne's Royal Shrovetide Football 2017

Suddenly it’s that time of year again, and the county’s calendar of special events in Derbyshire has begun with Ashbourne’s Royal Shrovetide Football game. Shop windows have been safely boarded up, the bunting is hung and vast crowds have gathered ready to enjoy the day with its unique, friendly yet competitive, atmosphere.

Two Ashburnians were given the honour of turning up the ball from the plinth in Shaw Croft car park at 2pm. On Shrove Tuesday it was the turn of Dr Dallas Burston. Born and raised in Ashbourne, Dr Burston is a former GP and businessman who has made his fortune in the pharmaceutical industry. A passionate fan of polo, he has built up his own club at his estate at Southam in Warwickshire. On Ash Wednesday it was the turn of retired sports shop owner and dairy farmer John Stubbs.

Play swept backwards and forwards through the streets, as dramatic and confusing as ever, and this year success went to the Up’Ards – anyone born north of Henmore Brook – who took the only goal at Sturston Mill at around 8.20pm on the Tuesday. Scorer Kurt Smith was allowed to keep the beautifully-painted ball and his name will now be added to the Roll of Honour.

‘There’s a town still plays this glorious game

Tho’ tis but a little spot.

And year by year the contest’s fought

From the field that’s called Shaw Croft.

Then friend meets friend in friendly strife

The leather for to gain,

And they play the game right manfully,

In snow, sunshine or rain.

Chorus:

‘Tis a glorious game, deny it who can

That tries the pluck of an Englishman.

For loyal the Game shall ever be

No matter when or where,

And treat that Game as ought but the free,

Is more than the boldest dare.

Though the up’s and down’s of its chequered life

May the ball still ever roll,

Until by fair and gallant strife

We’ve reached the treasur’d goal.’ Chorus

The Royal Shrovetide Anthem, 1891

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