A level PE Shrovetide Football trip

On Shrove Tuesday fifteen A level PE students were taken to Alnwick for a history of sport trip which included watching the Alnwick Shrovetide Football match which is the name of a large scale shrovetide football match played yearly in Alnwick, Northumberland. Once a street contest, it has now moved to a field named The Pastures across the River Aln from Alnwick Castle. The fixture between the parishes of St Michael and St Paul, first recorded in 1762, is one of the few surviving games of medieval football still being played. The game has only a few rules and involves large teams of roughly 150 persons on either side.

The goals are decorated with greenery and stand about 400 yards apart. As well as the large teams, the tradition attracts hundreds of spectators. The original game started with the ball being sent over the barbican of the castle to the crowd assembled below. It was then kicked through the streets of the town. Kicking the ball through the town was discontinued in the 1820s and the game was moved to the pastures. Nowadays the game is proceeded by a piper-led procession from the castle to The Pastures, beginning with the ball being ceremonially thrown from the castle, a role traditionally undertaken by the Duke of Northumberland The game is won by whichever team is first to score two “hales” or goals.

After the game the ball is carried to the river and thrown in. Whoever manages to get it out at the far side of the river is allowed to keep the ball, but they have to swim the River Aln to get it.

After the game the group also visited the Rugby, football and cricket grounds along with The former Railway station which now house Barter Books. The final visit was to Alnmouth village golf club in the beautiful seaside village which has the oldest golf course in England.

The aim of the trip was to bring alive so many different elements of the PE course where the students study the development of sport from pre-industrial to modern times and it is great that so much of this history can be experienced and seen in the region.

A great experience for all involved and maybe Ashbourne next year which certainly has to be seen to be believed.

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