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Local Derby

Posted by Gary Martin on December 20, 1999

Posted by Gary Bartram on December 19, 1999

In Reply to: Re: local derby posted by Bob on December 19, 1999

: : : Last September, someone inquired about the origin of "local derby" to refer to a soccer (association football) match
between two clubs from the same town.

: : : Better late than never, I guess, but it took me three months to do the research. Mea culpa.

: : : Although there is some controversy over the origin, the consenus seems to be:

: : : Hundreds of years ago, holiday celebrations in towns all over England had a tendency to turn into brawls (medieval
hooligans?) and the civic energy was channeled into loosely-organized ball games, often between two parishes or regions. This
took the form of a free-form game with no rules, the object of which was to get a ball (by any means) into the opposition's
"goal" which was most often the parish or town hall or whatever. The playing area was often miles long and just as wide, with
hundreds of players on a side.

: : : Then came organized sport in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the wild local derbies died out. With one
exception: the annual Shrove Tuesday football match in the Derbyshire village of Ashbourne, which lives on, I am told, to this
day. The whole town participates, and a merry time is had by all ... so long as all the windows are boarded up.

: : For your more complete information the following is an interesting extract. See URL
"http://www.ashbourne-town.com/frame1.html".

: : "Ashbourne is host to one of the Old Shrovetide football games.

: : The Game is played every Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, and consists of two teams, one from anyone born to the
North of the River Henmore, and one from people born South of the river, these are known as Up'ards and Down'ards.

: : The Goals are on the sites of Old Cornmills, one being at Sturston, and one being at Clifton, these places being three miles
apart! This may sound quite excessive in itself, but another hazard is the fact that the goal posts and a considerable amount of
the game is in the cold waters of the River Henmore.

: : A goal is scored by a player striking the mill wheel three times with the ball, as the mills are now derelict new posts have
been built in the river by the mills.

: : Before the game is played about 400 guests meet for lunch and speeches at the Green Man and Black's Head Royal Hotel,
before the game commences at 2.00 p.m."

: : Sound like just the right place to drop by to add a spot of authenticity to a holiday in the UK.

: Authentic. But nasty, brutish, and ... three miles long.

I hear what you say but I understand there are few fatalities or injuries and that, with adequate supplied of the local ale, a good
time can be had by all.

Picking up on the (now archived) thread about the phrase 'Local Derby'. I live near Ashbourne and, for the most part of the year, it's a quiet and pleasant English market town. I didn't know such hostilities went on there.

The explanation of the phrase sounds convincing. I thought it was to do with horse races though rather than football.

Gary