Hundreds of people gathered in Derbyshire on Tuesday to play, or watch, a relatively lawless, rugby-football hybrid extravaganza, where players try to get the ball to goals that are three miles apart.

The teams in the Royal Shrovetide football match in Ashbourne are dictated by where players were born, or live.

You’re an Up’Ard if you’re from north of Henmore Brook, or one of the Down’Ards if you were born south of it.

Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Willie Tucker had the honour of Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Willie Tucker had the honour of “turning up” (Aaron Chown/PA)

Th match begins when someone – this year Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Willie Tucker –  chucks a cork-filled ball into a crowd from a permanent plinth in the town’s main car park at 2pm on Shrove Tuesday, known as “turning-up”.

The ball was decorated with the Derby County FC badge this year (Aaron Chown/PAThe ball was decorated with the Derby County FC badge this year (Aaron Chown/PA)

After that, players try to get the ball to their goal by pretty much any means necessary.

Although on lookers spent long periods unable to see the ball (Aaron Chown/PA)Although on lookers spent long periods unable to see the ball (Aaron Chown/PA)

The game can last until 10pm over two days.

There are very few rules. Although it’s nicknamed football, none of the familiar traditions of that sport apply.

The ball can be kicked, but it rarely is. Usually it is carried or thrown between dozens of people trying to get their goal.

The ball is in there somewhere (Aaron Chown/PA)The ball is in there somewhere (Aaron Chown/PA)

The goals themselves are three miles apart, and both are in the river that runs through Ashbourne, Henmore Brook.

Potential scorers have to jump in to hit the ball on their respective scoring post three times to score.

But the ball did get out of the crowd and into the air occasionally (Aaron Chown/PA)But the ball did get out of the crowd and into the air occasionally (Aaron Chown/PA)

The town centre shops have closed for the duration of the match, with windows boarded up.

Some players tried to get a better view of proceedings (Aaron Chown/PA)Some players tried to get a better view of proceedings (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Ashbourne game is suspected to have been played since 1667.

It got its royal title after Edward VIII, who was then Prince of Wales, opened the game in 1928.

But more recently, the Prince of Wales threw the ball into the crowd to start 2003’s match.

There is always one person blocking your view with an umbrella at theses things (Aaron Chown/PA)There is always one person blocking your view with an umbrella at theses things (Aaron Chown/PA)

The goals, which players must hit three times to score, used to be mills either side of the town.

They’ve since been demolished, and in the 90s purpose-built goals using some of the original millstones were erected in Henmore Brook.

The game spilled from the boarded-up main street to among the trees (Aaron Chown/PA)The game spilled from the boarded-up main street to among the trees (Aaron Chown/PA)

There are no limits to the teams’ sizes though, and visitors to the area make up the numbers too.

However, it would be pretty unusual for a non-local to score – that’s usually decided ahead of time by key local players as the ball makes its way to the goal.

This hen party was among the hundreds who gathered to watch (Aaron Chown/PA)This hen party was among the hundreds who gathered to watch (Aaron Chown/PA)