Local Derby

Posted by Bob on December 22, 1999

In Reply to: Local Derby posted by Gary Martin on December 20, 1999

: 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. See URL
: "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

I went to the website, and as advertised, the townfolk pictured seem to be having a very good time indeed. I hesitate to label it hostilities, since they do seem well fortified with good cheer.