HAVING bragging rights over your whole town is something that people can only dream of, but for Sedgefield resident Adam Dovaston, he is now the talk of the town after winning the annual Sedgefield ball game on Tuesday (March 1).

Hundreds of people took to the streets of the market town earlier this week to battle, scrum and get covered in mud, as the traditional Shrove Tuesday ball game took place.

With the tradition getting cancelled last year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, it returned with purpose and drew a crowd from far and wide. Some people even travelled 200 miles from the South of England to see the ball game today.

Read more: PICTURES: Sedgefield ball game returns in style after year absence

The traditional ‘ball game’ is believed to date back to the 13th century when St Edmund’s Church was completed and the stonemason challenged the townsfolk to a celebratory game of football, a time when health and safety was not a priority.

The Northern Echo: Adam Dovaston with the Sedgefield ball game leather ball. Picture: PUBLICAdam Dovaston with the Sedgefield ball game leather ball. Picture: PUBLIC

The aim of the game is to ‘battle’ for the ball when it kicks off at 1pm each Shrove Tuesday. The game is organised by a secret group of residents and is kicked off by the town ‘elder’. 

From the start, which is signalled when the ball has been passed through the ‘bullring’ three times, people throw, kick and pile for the ball from 1pm until 4pm, but the ball goes missing in between when many of the players take a break in the many pubs in the town, with some taking part getting free drinks in certain pubs if they come in with the ball.

The Northern Echo: Adam Dovaston fended off hundreds of other participants at the ball game. Picture: PUBLIC.Adam Dovaston fended off hundreds of other participants at the ball game. Picture: PUBLIC.

The game ends when the ball has been taken down to the beck at the edge of Sedgefield and then passed through the bullring once again. The person who puts the ball through is then declared the winner, and usually hoisted up on the shoulder of other participants.

At the close of play on Tuesday, Adam Dovaston fended off hundreds of other participants of the ball game to get to the beck and pass the ball through the bullring with the help of several other people taking part, including his dad Steven, who also won the ball game in his youth.

The young winner was then hoisted up by those around him, and the ball game celebrations continued late into the evening for the champion and many others.

Former Mayor of Sedgefield, Chris Lines, was one of the first to congratulate Adam on this win, saying: "Congratulations to this year's Sedgefield Ball Game winner, Adam Dovaston, whose dad Steven won in his youth too, and helped his son secure the coveted prize.

"There were plenty of my clan in action or watching - a real rite of passage for the youngsters and great fun for the town."  

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