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Atherstone ball game.

The Atherstone ball game is an 800-year-old Shrove Tuesday tradition in which the people of this normally sleepy North Warwickshire town literally brawl over a large ball up and down the town's streets.

Shops are boarded up, local schools are closed and townspeople gather in the main street at 3pm for the beginning of the game.

There is only one rule - the ball cannot be taken out of the town. Anything and everything else goes.

The winner in this no-holds-barred contest is the person holding the ball when the klaxon goes at 5pm to end the game.

The ball is specially made each year by Gilbert, of Rugby, of rugby ball fame. It is 27 inches in diameter, weighs four pounds, and is filled with water at the beginning of the game.

Pictures, LORETTA BRENNAN and DARRYL SMITH

CAPTION(S):

Clockwise from above: Hundreds of hands reach for the ball; one youngster is carried unconscious from the fray; a girl clambers over the lads; putting the boot in; marshals help the ball holder; players fall to the ground; others clamber up to get a better view ; LB050208ball-2; LB050208ball-3; LB050208ball-6; DS050208BALL8; LB050208ball-9; LB050208ball-7; DS050208BALL9
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 6, 2008
Words:193
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