Ashbourne’s Shrovetide football

The Shrovetide ball

The Shrovetide ball

The Who, What, Where, When and Why of the 2017 game!


If you’re a fit and able towns person then you can join in- there is no limit to the number of players! Your team depends on which side of the Henmore brook you were born – on the south side you’re a Down’ards and try to goal the ball at the old Clifton Mill, and north side are Up’ards trying to goal the ball at the old Sturston Mill.


Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football – to give it it’s full name – is a game played each Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.

It’s not like an ordinary game of football. The game takes place over two eight-hour periods, the goals are three miles apart and there are few rules.

The game has been known as ‘Royal’ since the 1920s when the then Prince of Wales, later Kind Edward VIII, “turned-up the ball” (threw in the ball) in 1928. In 2003 when the game was started by Prince Charles. And footballing royalty, Brian Clough, did the honours in 1975.


All around town! Between the old Clifton Mill and the old Sturston Mill … it’s spectacular to witness!


Shrove Tuesday, February 28, and Ash Wednesday on March 1. The game starts at 2pm each day and the match continues until 10pm. If the goal is scored (goaled) before 5pm a new ball is released and game restarts. However, play ends for the day if a ball is goaled after 5pm.


Why indeed … the Ashbourne game has been played since at least 1667 but the precise details are unknown owing to a fire at the committee offices in the 1890s which destroyed the earliest records.

Shrovetide Football

Shrovetide Football – Ashbourne


Ashbourne is our local market town, learn more …

Comments are closed.

  • Footer logos