Posted by Gary Bartram on December 19, 1999
In Reply to: 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.
: : "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.