Each year on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d driven into a war zone, as the majority of Ashburnians take to the streets/rivers/gardens to play what is probably the largest football game in the world!
Hundreds form two teams, made up of players born on either side of Henmore River, known as the the Up’ards (the North side) and the Down’ards (the South side), and the playing field is 3 miles long, 2 miles wide and has the town of Ashbourne in the middle! Originally mill wheels, the two goals are now stone plinths in Henmore Brook at Sturston and Clifton.
The game starts at 2pm when the specially made and hand painted ball is ‘turned up’ in the centre of town, and lasts till 10pm. If a goal is scored before 6pm a new game is started. There are no rules, shops are boarded up, and only an idiot (or an unsuspecting visitor) would park their car anywhere in the town as there is no saying where play will go. One thing you can be sure of, the pubs remain open all day long.