The game starts around 2pm, with a leather and cork ball being `turned up` at Shaw Croft by a local dignitary, usually after a short speech, singing of the Auld Lang Syne and God Save the Queen. The cork helps the ball float when it inevitably ends up in Henmore Brook. The ball is hand-painted by local craftsmen specially for the occasion, and the design is usually related to the dignitary who will be turning-up the ball.
The ball is hardly ever kicked, but mostly `hugged` by a scrum which tries to move forward. At times there seems to be hardly any movement at all, except for players desperate to get into the scrum. Sometime or other, the ball has to go into Henmore Brook and everyone follows, regardless of the soaking they will get.
If a goal is scored before 5pm, a new ball is turned up at Shaw Croft, as the scorer is allowed to keep the ball. Women do take part and have occasionaly scored.
It is called `Royal` because in 1928 the ball was `turned up` by the then, Prince of Wales, later to become Edward the Eighth. In 2003 the ball was turned by by Prince Charles. Other notables who have turned up the ball are Sir Stanley Matthews in 1966,
Brian Clough in 1975, and
Roy McFarland in 1982.
For photographs of Shrovetide Football see Shrovetide Football 2005 - 2013
For more information on Ashbourne please see Ashbourne
Other Derbyshire & Peak District Customs
Barmote Court - an old Wirksworth custom that regulates lead mining laws
Castleton Garland Day - a Derbyshire village celebration held annually on Oak Apple Day
Clipping the Church - an annual custom held in Wirksworth
Derbyshire & Peak District Well Dressing
For local accommodation see
Derbyshire and Peak District Accommodation