Two important Ashbourne Shrovetide footballs – including one dating back to 1897 - are staying in their hometown thanks to generous donations.
A rich selection of Shrovetide memorabilia, including a ball turned up in 1970 by the late George Bradley, a former Shrovetide committee member, together with the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee ball from 1897, sold for a hammer price of £3,800 at Hansons Auctioneers on Saturday July 27. The estimate was £400-£600.
They were secured by Shrovetide committee member Michael Betteridge, from Ashbourne, who said: “The purchase of the Shrovetide balls and memorabilia has been funded by very generous donations. They are now part of the Shrovetide Heritage Collection and held in trust for Ashbourne.”
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “I’m delighted these important Shrovetide treasures will remain in Ashbourne. The footballs are coming home.”
The lot also included a programme from 1928 when His Royal Highness Edward, Prince of Wales, turned up the ball at the famous annual event together with books, old postcards, luncheon invitations and more.
However, particularly fascinating due to its age and back story is the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee ball from 1897, the year the royal reached the milestone of 60 years on the throne.
Mr Hanson said: “Confusion still exists over who actually goaled it. It’s thought the honour belongs to James ‘Tug’ Bradley who lived on The Terrace, Mayfield. His name is emblazoned on the 122-year-old ball which also displays the words ‘Britons Never Shall Be Slaves’.
“However, The Ashbourne News of 1897 attributed the goaling of the ball to Charles Hill, though this could have been a reporter’s error.
“It all adds to the mystery of what is a remarkable historical item that’s played its part in a legendary game. Ashbourne’s annual Shrovetide football match is an ancient tradition admired across the world. It’s a hugely valuable part of Derbyshire’s heritage.
“We regularly discover wonderful objects in Ashbourne and look forward to uncovering more. Our experts offer free valuations at Fairways Garden Centre, Clifton, every Monday from 2.30-4pm.”
The Ashbourne Shrovetide balls and memorabilia were sold at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, on July 27. Entries are invited until August 2 for Hansons’ August 22 Football in Focus Auction. To arrange a free valuation or home visit, email [email protected] or call 01283 733988.