Thousands take part in annual Shrovetide football game in Derbyshire

PHOTO: Rod Kirkpatrick. ''Players reach for the ball at the annual Royal Shrovetide Football  Match in Ashbourne, Derbyshire
PHOTO: Rod Kirkpatrick. ''Players reach for the ball at the annual Royal Shrovetide Football Match in Ashbourne, Derbyshire
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It’s the most unusual game of football you’re ever likely to see...

Forget 11-a-side – thousands take part in this unique match. And the goals are three miles apart.

PHOTO: Rod Kirkpatrick. ''Players reach for the ball at the annual Royal Shrovetide Football  Match in Ashbourne, Derbyshire

PHOTO: Rod Kirkpatrick. ''Players reach for the ball at the annual Royal Shrovetide Football Match in Ashbourne, Derbyshire

These photos by Rod Kirkpatrick show players reaching for the ball at the annual Royal Shrovetide Football Match in Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

After ‘turning up’ the ball at 2pm thousands of rival Up’Ards’ and Down’Ards’ team members attempt to ‘goal’ the ball onto stones set three miles apart in the town of Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

The game also known as ‘hugball’ has been played from at least 1667 although the exact origins of the game are unknown but one of the most popular origin theories suggests the macabre notion that the ‘ball’ was originally a severed head tossed into the waiting crowd following an execution.