2018 Photo Contest, Sports, 1st prize

Royal Shrovetide Football


Oli Scarff

28 February, 2017

Members of opposing teams, the Up’ards and Down’ards, grapple for the ball during the historic, annual Royal Shrovetide Football Match in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, UK.

The game is played between hundreds of participants in two eight-hour periods on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday (the day preceding and the day marking the start of Christian Lent). The two teams are determined by which side of the River Henmore players are born: Up’ards are from north of the river; Down’ards, south. Players score goals by tapping the ball three times on millstones set into pillars three miles apart.

There are very few rules apart from an historic stipulation that players may not murder their opponents, and the more contemporary requirement that the ball must not be transported in bags, rucksacks, or motorized vehicles. Royal Shrovetide Football is believed to have been played in Ashbourne since the 17th century.

About the photographer

Oli Scarff

After gaining a master's degree in mathematics, Oli Scarff began his photography career with SWNS agency before moving to a staff position at the Daily Telegraph newspaper in...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
90.0 mm

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