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Fists thrown during 2024 Atherstone Ball Game despite police crackdown on violence

Fists were thrown during the 2024 Atherstone Ball Game despite there being a police crackdown on violence during the event.

For those who don’t know, this is a traditional event that sees locals in the Warwickshire town of Atherstone in some sort of medieval football fighting for possession of large balls.

This has been in existence for over eight centuries and it seems just by going off new footage uploaded onto social media this week, it’s not surprising just how violent it turned out to be for this year’s 824th show. Alex Young was crowned the winner this time around.

Urban Pictures (@Urban_Pictures) captured the moment some individuals turned to hit out at those around them…

A message on the Atherstone Ball Games Facebook page prior to the event, said: “Right then Lads all we ask is please work with us, Don’t let your ego’s take over and have us seen to be a barbaric event.

“If The Klaxon Sounds the Game will be paused.

“Keep the ball moving until 4.30 anything before this will be VOID.

“Let it be shown what strength, courage and stamina it takes to win The Atherstone Ball Game.

“Most importantly GIVE THE BABBIES A KICK

“Atherstone Ball Game Limited accepts no liability arising from the ball game for damage to property in Long Street, Atherstone or damage to property situated otherwise than in Long Street, Atherstone and likewise no liability for personal injury whether suffered by persons participating in the ball game, spectating upon the ball game, or otherwise, either before, during or after the ball game, how so ever caused.

“All persons attending the ball game do so at their own risk and are personally liable for damage that they cause and have no licence to commit unlawful acts.

“Notwithstanding the above, the Committee of Atherstone Ball Game Limited, respectfully request that all persons with property situated either in Long Street, Atherstone or otherwise in Long Street, Atherstone ensure that such measures are taken so as to safely secure the property, including but not limited to, the boarding of entry doors and windows.”

Police issued a statement of Atherstone’s 824th ball game, it read: “Warwickshire Police @warkspolice will be making use of CCTV and drone footage to keep an eye on proceedings.

“Any incidents of criminal violence will be investigated, and the perpetrators dealt with accordingly.

“We can confirm that Warwickshire Police officers were in attendance at the Atherstone Ball Game.

“Over the coming days, we will be reviewing footage taken to determine whether any further action is required.”

Warwickshire Police wanted the event to continue, but asked for ‘significant improvements’ to be made for this year.

“Warwickshire Police strongly support traditional events and recognise how important the Atherstone Ball Game is to the local community,” they said.

“Warwickshire Police do not want to see an end to a local tradition that has lasted for over eight centuries. However, the level of violence at the 2023 event was extreme and the resulting video footage went viral across the world.

“If this level of violence continues it is only a matter of time until somebody receives fatal or life changing injuries. The Atherstone Ball Game is a privately run event and therefore The Atherstone Ball Game Committee are responsible for the safety of those attending. Warwickshire Police are strongly encouraging the committee to ensure that significant improvements are made to the way the game is managed, in order to ensure the safety of those taking part.

“The levels of violence witnessed last year will not be tolerated, and police will intervene if necessary.”

As mentioned, The Ball Game preparations led to the boarding up of shops in the small town, with is the ball dropped to the crowd at 3:00pm, starting off calmly and is then carnage by the end at 5pm.

Participants are fortunate that one of the few rules is that you can’t kill anyone.

An earlier post on the Atherstone Ball Games Facebook page stated that anyone who wishes to participate or observe can do so at their own risk.

It said: “Atherstone Ball Game will not be held responsible for the safety and well-being of all, please listen to the stewards!!’

The organisers stated that they strongly advise against alcohol consumption before and during the event while also warned that anyone caught under the influence of alcohol would be removed.

The game of ball dates as far back as to 1199, and it has continued to be played every year since then, even through the Black Death and two world wars.

Twitter users reacted as footage shows fists thrown during the 2024 Atherstone Ball Game despite a police crackdown on violence…

@IvorBig29545826: Dress code – strictly hi-vis vest/scaffolder workwear or sports direct clobber only. Beer gut optional

@JoeOM99: Looks great. Let grown men who sign up willfully throw a bunch of punches and kicks

@daveandwolves: When your star player throws his shirt into the crowd after the game to the 5 year old who’s been holding his cardboard sign up for the whole game

@ITSKNY: I’m almost certain. The day starts in the boozer. Plenty of pints. Plenty of lines. Minimal breakfast. Then every fucker just goes into the street for a straightener with any fucker who’s within 5 feet of a leather ball .

@cockney_yid: I love this carnage 😂

@KidsDrawingABC: It’s not a ball match, it’s a fighting match! 😳

@DannySaint1: Just a massive tare up really 😂

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