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Terry Pratchett backs our game

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: March 02, 2011

Author Terry Pratchett (picture by David Bird)

Author Terry Pratchett (picture by David Bird)

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INTERNATIONALLY renowned author, Sir Terry Pratchett pledged his support for the Royal Shrovetide football game in an exclusive interview with the News Telegraph last week.

In a scathing dismissal of the health and safety regulations which have to be observed in the modern game, Sir Terry said: “I would come and stand side by side with you if they ever tried to stop something like this.” And, the author of 38 Discworld novels and a number of books for children, revealed he had looked at historic football games during research for his 37th Discworld novel, Unseen Academicals, released in 2009.

The book centres around the game of foot-the-ball or Poor Boys Funne — a sport with many similarities to the Royal Shrovetide match. And, although Sir Terry researched other historic football games around the country, such as the Haxey Hood, which is played in North Lincolnshire, he is well aware of the Shrovetide football game.

He said: “In the world of what we might call ‘early sport’ there are quite a few occasions when one side of a village, or two villages, would play some kind of game which involves passing a ball or a block of wood between them.

“The sort of games like Shrovetide do have similarities — and foot-the-ball comes incredibly close.

“There are no real rules, you can hardly tell the spectators from the players and everyone gets muddy and bloody.

“I’m glad to hear it’s still going on. I would come and stand side by side with you if they tried to stop something like this.

“It’s a good example of a good old British tradition.” The comments from Sir Terry were welcomed by the Shrovetide committee last week. Secretary, Mick Betteridge, said: “We are enormously pleased to know that Sir Terry Pratchett gave his full support to the game and the continuance and furtherance of the same.

“There are constraints when you’re playing a medieval game in the 21st Century — people taking responsibility in any small way will help.”

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