Derby

Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide: Row over game start point

Turning up Ashbourne Shrovetide, 2015 Image copyright AFP / Getty Images
Image caption The turning up ceremony launches the annual two-day event

A row has broken out over the starting point of the annual Royal Shrovetide Football game.

Every year, Ashbourne in Derbyshire is split in two as thousands of people from each side of the town compete in the eccentric two-day match.

Since 1998 the ball has been thrown in to the crowd - or "turned up" - from a brick plinth in the middle of town.

But there have been complaints its position in Shaw Croft car park gives one side an unfair advantage.

At the start of the game, which is thought to date back to ancient times, the ball is thrown into play after competitors and spectators have stood around the plinth to sing the national anthem.

The most famous "turner up" was Prince Charles in 2003.

Image caption A plaque on the current plinth says it was built in 1998

Where players live determines which side they play for: The Up'ards or the Down'ards.

Up'ard Jason Hainsworth said the plinth's position may give his team an unfair advantage.

"The plinth used to be in the middle of the car park and they used to throw it sideways on," he said.

"I think they want it so you're not throwing it towards the Up'ards or the Down'ards," he said.

Spectator David Taylor said he believes the Up'ards now outnumber the Down'ards "about three to one".

Image caption Prince Charles was "turner up" at 2003's event

But not all Up'ards agree. Heidi Wright said the Down'ards were "throwing a hissy fit" and moving the plinth would be a "total waste of money".

Husband Steve said: "I think it's a bit of sour grapes because they've not scored for so long."

A spokesman for the Shrovetide Committee, which runs the event, said it did not want to comment.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Thousands take part in and watch the two-day game

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