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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Downies defeat Uppies after six-hour game to clinch series

More than six hours of passion, pride and honour preceded the Downies’ second win in Workington’s mass no-rules football game.

Uppies and Downies photo
Keith Hunter hails the ball for the Downies

The Easter tradition of Uppies and Downies, which dates back hundreds of years, sees the two opposing town sides fight for supremacy for a specially made ball which has to be hailed at Workington Hall for the Uppies and the docks for the Downies.

The three-game series, which is played on Good Friday, Easter Tuesday and Saturday, attracts hundreds of spectators to the town.

This year, Downies won the Good Friday game and last night’s match could have gone either way.

The ball was thrown off by Robert Daglish, 34, who has had the honour for 24 years. He was with his wife Jennifer and their 16-month-old son Harry, who will throw off the ball when he is old enough.

Almost straightaway, the ball was in the beck which runs by Allerdale House and Uppies looked like they had an advantage.

Within 40 minutes, the Downies had surged and pushed the scrum round the side of the council’s headquarters and onto the Green.

Play stayed on the Green for about two hours – with neither side giving an inch and every time the ball looked like it was going up, it came back down almost immediately.

It was only at 8.45pm that action really kicked in and by 8.50pm, the scrum had moved to the middle of the New Bridge Road roundabout.

Traffic was at a standstill, although some hardy motorists managed to pick their way around the hundreds of spectators lining the road.

Uppies had a last-ditch attempt to move the ball in their direction, with veteran Joe Clark managing to get it under his jumper at one point, although he was spotted and flattened.

But as darkness fell, it returned to a stalemate situation for another two hours with the scrum not moving more than a few hundred yards at a time.

Finally, Downies managed to break away into the woods and walked the ball in the shallow depths of the River Derwent at 12.10am to the docks. The ball was hailed by Keith Hunter, 23, of Seaton, at 12.30am.

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