WATCH: Unruly Sedgefield Ball Game a Shrove Tuesday hit

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A SPORTING tradition which dates back almost 1,000 years was enjoyed by dozens of villagers.

Every year competitors take to the streets of Sedgefield, in County Durham, for the annual Shrove Tuesday Ball Game.

The Sedgefield Ball game underway. Picture by FRANK REID

The Sedgefield Ball game underway. Picture by FRANK REID

The game sees players compete for possession of a small leather ball and often lasts all day.

There are very few rules, but many conventions, including a free drink for the first player to take the ball into any one of the local pubs.

Each year, a resident is chosen to kick off the games by passing the ball through the bull ring on the village green three times.

The game is thought to date back to the year 1256 when the stonemason who completed St Edmund’s Church challenged the countrymen to a celebratory game of football.

Nowadays, it is organised by a secret committee, who rumour has it, keep a low profile to avoid liability for damages.