Shrovetide – NOWNESS

Each year, the British town of Ashbourne in Derbyshire plays host to a football game like no other. Played over the course of two days, the opposing teams, the Up’ards and Down’ards, attempt to force a ball in the direction of one of the goal plinths located on either side of the town—three miles apart. Imagine if Hieronymus Bosch painted a football game and you get close to how densely anarchic the resulting game is. Numbering in the thousands, the teams are decided at birth depending on which side of the Hennmore Brook, a small river running through the middle of the town, the player is born on. It is a tradition that dates back over 900 years. Speaking about this intense and unforgiving contest, director Louis Hollis explains: “The real challenge was remembering to keep half an eye on where the ball was to make sure I didn’t get flattened. Players and spectators alike were so absorbed in the game that they largely ignored the camera. The explosive and mercurial nature of the game meant that there were images to be found in every direction.”

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