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Shrovetide links to French football game

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: February 29, 2012

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A FRENCH connection between Shrovetide and a game played in a small village on the Somme has been strengthened by a university lecturer.

Laurent Fournier is a lecturer in the history and sociology of sport and recreation at the Universite de Nantes and has been conducting a study into what he terms “folk football.” Mr Fournier, who has visited Ashbourne before to observe Royal Shrovetide Football, returned this year to make a further study of the historic game.

But, before the game had even started, Mr Fournier uncovered a hitherto unsuspected link between Shrovetide and La Soule, a mass football game played in Tricot, Picardy, on the first Sunday of Lent and again on Easter Monday.

Mr Fournier happened to be walking past the News Telegraph offices on the morning of Shrove Tuesday, when he spotted the design on the back of a 1909 Shrovetide ball belonging to Michael Stevenson, who was being photographed by the newspaper’s Geoff Merryweather.

A representation of the three cockerels in the Cokayne family coat of arms had been painted onto the back of Mr Stevenson’s ball many years ago and it was this emblem which sparked Mr Fournier’s interest.

He said: I’m studying folk football and have been going round different places to see the games in Britain and France.

“In Picardy they have got a game in Tricot and somebody told me that this means three cocks.

“And, they have the same emblem. It appears there is a connection with the Cokayne family.” Mr Fournier remained in Ashbourne for both Shrovetide games and was welcomed to the event by the Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Committee, who also invited Mr Fournier to the Shrovetide luncheon.

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