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Atherstone Ball Game - Wikipedia

The Atherstone Ball Game is a "Medieval football" game played annually on Shrove Tuesday in the English town of Atherstone, Warwickshire. The game honours a match played between Leicestershire and Warwickshire in 1199, when teams used a bag of gold as a ball, and which was won by Warwickshire. At one time similar events were held in many towns throughout England, but Atherstone's is now one of only two such games that are played each year at Shrovetide, the other being the Royal Shrovetide Football match held in Ashbourne, Derbyshire.[1]

250px-Atherstone_Ball_game_2012.jpg

The ball played in the 813th Atherstone Ball game on Shrove Tuesday in 2012.

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A sculpture of the Atherstone Ball Game created by Michael Disley.

The two-hour game is played in the town's main street, Long Street, and sees groups of players compete for possession of a giant ball that is specially made for the occasion. The match is usually started at 3.00pm on Shrove Tuesday by a celebrity guest, usually someone associated with the area, who is invited to throw the ball from an upstairs window of the Atherstone branch of Barclays Bank. The game itself has few rules, two being that play is restricted to Long Street and participants are not allowed to kill anyone. The winner is declared at 5.00pm, the title going to the person who has possession of the ball when the whistle sounds.[1][2][3] Ahead of the game itself, sweets and pennies are thrown from Barclays Bank to local children.[4] The ball is decorated with ribbons before the game, and prizes are also awarded to anyone who gets hold of one, as well as to the person who gets the golden penny, thrown into the crowd shortly before the game commences.[5]
 

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