DOWN’ARD brothers, James and Daniel Carter had first and last hands on the leather on Ash Wednesday as Daniel surged out of the hug at Shaw Croft to grab the ball as it was turned-up by Nigel Brown and James was led to the mill wheel at Clifton to goal the ball almost six hours later.
James Carter, known as Jimmy, was hugged by his brother and parents when he returned to Ashbourne Town Hall after his goal was verified before a rousing crowd of players.
As he stood on the ton hall steps, Mr Carter told the News Telegraph: “I’m speechless, it is just amazing.”
A trainee sports teacher, Mr Carter, 24, lives with his parents Sid and Julie, in Northcliffe Road. On Thursday, after celebrating the Down’ard equaliser well into the night, Mr Carter told of an epic day’s play which led him to bring the first Shrovetide ball into his family.
Mr Carter said: “I can’t let this ball out of my sight, I want to be able to be near it all the time.
“At the beginning of the day I was on the ball at the top of South Street and I ran it through a field. I was trying to hide, but ran into Dave Spencer, which was unreal. Me, Dave, Robert Redfern and Craig Frith walked to the top of the hill out of the way of the crowds and as we got to the top of the hill we were bombarded by another 20 or 30 blokes and then it was hugged for a few metres before it came straight back down the hill.
“It was like the cheese-rolling the hill was that steep.”
After breaking with the ball across Sainsbury’s car park and then into the leisure centre, Mr Carter was tackled by Up’ard Simon Winter before the ball was taken through into Church Street and then to Tomlinson’s field.
He added: “I read it as it was in the field and got to where I thought it was going to go. Nick Lemon chucked the ball straight into my hands and I ran with it after that until I was tackled by another good mate, Up’ard Tom Leighton, who absolutely nailed me.”
As the ball was hugged across Carnation Way and through fields to the Clifton goal, Mr Carter stayed near the hug, encouraging his fellow Down’ards as they trawled through snow-filled ditches and in and out of the river Henmore.
As they approached their destination, Mr Carter was guarding the ball which was hidden up the jumper of his best friend John Ford.
Mr Carter said: “We kept walking it round the corner and I was praying that John was going to goal it and they did the draw and the crowd went quiet. Darren Waring said they’d done a fair draw and it’s James Carter’s.
“My knees and my legs went, I couldn’t talk, I sort of felt all floppy.
“The ball was up John’s to. I looked at hime and asked if he was going to give it to me and he said of course he was because I’m his best mate. That was an emotional moment.
“Everyone opened up and just led me into the goal, it was really appreciated as friends. It felt like the goal was a million miles away, even though it was just a couple of yards.
“John and my brother carried me back to town, I didn’t want anyone else.
“I’ve always wanted to goal a Shrovetide ball but when we went out on Wednesday morning I never thought it would be my year.”