FINAL SCORE: One-all draw as Up'ards equalise in Shrovetide 2018

This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.

A fast and furious start to Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide's second day, Ash Wednesday, ended in a slow crawl to the goal for the Up'ards.

Barrie Swan's 7.44pm goal brought an end to another period of confusion, echoing Shrove Tuesday's missing ball fiasco, which lasted nearly two hours.

But this time the Up'ards made a quicker job of bringing the ball home and fought off the Down'ards right to the end, to reach Sturston for a relatively early goal bringing an end to Shrovetide 2018.

Ashbourne Shrovetide 2018

The hug near the Sturston mill-stone.

It was a smaller crowd for Wednesday's wet start, which meant a faster pace to the game, and the Up'ards meant business from the outset.

They had let the Down'ards slip through their fingers on Shrove Tuesday but they pushed harder the following day.

With a much smaller crowd following the ball, play was much more open and this helped the faster pace develop.

As the rain eased and the initial unsettled period of the match subsided, the Up'ards' determination shone through.

Ashbourne Shrovetide 2018

Barrie Swan was paraded through Ashbourne.

A series of breaks saw the ball make it into Park Avenue within just half an hour and this is an important artery for Sturston.

But the Down'ards fought back at every turn. The play swirled around the park estate for the next hour, with plenty of breaks, plenty of sightings of the ball and plenty of action.

Ash Wednesday's daylight stage was proving to be poles apart from the sedate and relatively lightless opening to Shrove Tuesday.

But by 4pm the play had made it into Fishpond Meadow, and then across the hedges into the QEGS playing fields.

Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football day two 2018

The game moved onto Ashbourne's astroturf for a short time today.

Light was fading now, but the excitement remained as the hug continued its slow journey across the wide-open fields.

However, as the light continued to fade, so did the adrenaline levels of the followers, as the game had begun to slow down.

It had entered a stalemate period, which saw it into the darkness with little movement, other than the occasional push in and out of the River Henmore.

For a while the Down'ards gained the upper hand, and it headed back towards the Fishpond but failed to gather enough traction.

Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football day two 2018

The goal was hard-fought by Up'ards today.

In fact, it was nearly 6.30pm before the next significant stage began to unfold in the pitch-darkness.

Confusion set in quickly following a dummy break and, with the small crowd scattered in several directions, there was room for the runners to dive in and grab the ball.

And then, as if history was repeating itself, Shrove Tuesday's excruciating mystery and confusion returned.

Ashbourne Shrovetide 2018

Barrie Swan after the game.

The ball had disappeared in the complete darkness at around and the rumour mill was working as quickly as the feet of the followers who headed to the Sturston goal.

It turned out to be a long wait as the players had managed to get quite a distance away. Rumours suggested it had made it to Paper House Lane, but it wasn't until around 7.30pm that it was finally approaching and within earshot.

At around 7.40pm, the Down'ards admitted defeat, the Up'ards dropped into the Henmore and, at 7.44pm, the draw was decided. Barrie Swan made history and tapped the leather against the mill stone three times.

It was a hard-fought victory but it was a deserved victory for the Up'ards.

A disappointing day for the Down'ards, but a thrilling conclusion to two days of varied and fascinating play.

The score at the end of Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide 2018 is Down'ards 1, Up'ards 1.

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