Up'ards lead Ashbourne's famous Shrovetide Football game

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hundreds of people are taking part in the two-day game

The first day of the eccentric two-day Royal Shrovetide Football game has finished in Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

Hundreds of people are taking part in the thinly-refereed event, which sees two teams attempting to force a cork ball towards goals three miles apart.

The Up'ards team are leading 1-0 at the end of the first day after the ball was goaled at Sturston at 19:53 GMT.

Despite the need to protect buildings and property, organisers said the event was one of the highlights of the year.

The origins of the game are lost in time, with written records dating back only to 1890.

Shrovetide Glossary

Image copyright Tim Mabon
Image caption The ball was turned up by Mick Pepper to officially start this year's game
  • Turned Up or Thrown Up: Ball being thrown into the massed players to start the game
  • Down'ard/Up'ard: The two teams
  • Hug: The name given to the mass of people who push the ball around the town. Similar to a scrum in rugby
  • Goals: The structures at each mill which need to be hit three times with the ball to be valid
  • Henmore: The river which runs through the centre of Ashbourne, depending on which side you are born depends on your team

A team of volunteers prepared the town for the event, with many shops putting planks across their frontages to protect against broken windows.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Two teams, called Down'ard and Up'ard, compete in the game
Image copyright EPA
Image caption These team members had to scramble from a ditch

Bill Bennett goaled a ball in 1963 and remembered the game caused more chaos than usual.

"We were in the railway tunnel with the ball and the train from Buxton started to come," he said.

"The police had to clear the tunnel of all the people.

"They got the ball and it was thrown up on Station Street and the train managed to get past."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Business owners in Ashbourne prepared for the worst by boarding up the shop fronts
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Workmen boarded up a building society before the game began

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