Ashbourne's Royal Shrovetide Football ends with lost ball

Ball in the air during Shrovetide game Image copyright AFP
Image caption Competitors battle over a cork ball which is "goaled" by tapping it against one of two stone plinths

The eccentric Royal Shrovetide Football's second day ended without a goal after the ball went missing.

The annual event plays out over two days and involves thousands of people competing for the Up'ards or the Down'ards in Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

Up'ards goaled the ball on Tuesday but play ended on Wednesday when the ball disappeared with no successful goal.

The tradition is thought to date back centuries but records were lost in a fire in 1890.

Image copyright AFP

Shrovetide glossary

  • 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 that runs through the centre of Ashbourne; the side of it a person is born on determines the team he or she plays for

Image copyright AFP
Image caption There are very few rules and only churchyards, memorial gardens and cemeteries are out of bounds

Mystery still surrounds what happened on Wednesday with reports of both teams rushing to the opposing goals expecting to find the ball.

It was reported on Twitter that the ball disappeared at about 20:00 GMT in Mayfield and nobody goaled the ball before the 22:00 deadline.

Some competitors blamed the loss on foul play.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The River Henmore, which runs through Ashbourne, plays an important role in Shrovetide Football
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Players compete for either the Up'ards or Down'ards
Image copyright AP
Image caption The game features a huge, writhing scrummage, known as the "hug"
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Most drivers heed the advice to move their cars out of the Derbyshire town - but at least one person forgot

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