I had heard of Shrovetide in my youth, but knew very little about it – save for the fact that it was one of the sporting world’s great curious traditions. When I went to university years later, I met a great bloke called Chris Webb, who was actually from Ashbourne, Derbyshire, which is the heart of the Shrovetide tradition, and he told me all about it.
Essentially, the town of Ashbourne is split into two with ‘uppards’ versus ‘downards’, depending on where you live. There is a goal at either end of town, and you literally just scrap a ball by any means you can from one end of town to the other, and try to score. Nowhere is off limits and everyone is involved.
It is absolute bedlam, and just plain fantastic.
This is happening right now, and at the above link, you can actually watch it take place in real time. Get on over there, and admire Shrovetide in all its mucky glory.