Alnwick Shrovetide football match to honour a local hero

Eric Hately with his grand-daughter Mia.
Eric Hately with his grand-daughter Mia.

The Duke of Northumberland has invited the sons of a stalwart of Alnwick’s Shrovetide Football Match, who died recently, to get tomorrow’s game under way.

Peter and Robin, sons of Eric Hately, who was the event’s vice-chairman, will perform one of the game’s traditions, the throwing of the matchball from the Barbican at Alnwick Castle.

Eric Hately, left, with  his close friend John Hopper.

Eric Hately, left, with his close friend John Hopper.

The task is normally performed by the Duke himself but he has asked the Hately brothers to take his place.

There will also be a minute’s silence in memory of Eric before the game kicks off.

Eric was involved in the Shrovetide match from the 1990s up until his death earlier this month.

Peter said: “Apparently, it was the Duke’s idea that Robin and I should throw the ball down and it’s a really nice gesture from him.

Eric Hately

Eric Hately

“There was a suggestion that one of us might throw the ball and the other catch it but I would be scared of dropping it, so we’ll both throw it and let Tom [Pickard] catch it.”

Shrovetide chairman Tom Pickard, who joined the committee in 1996 at the same time as Eric said the event ‘would be poignant’.

“We’ll have a minute’s silence up by the Barbican then we’ll carry on as normal. It’s business as usual, which is what Eric would have wanted,” said Tom.

The traditional Shrovetide event, which has taken place since the late 1800s, pits the two Alnwick parishes of St Paul and St Michael against each other in a keenly-contested local derby with few rules in the Pastures opposite the castle. Proceedings get under way at 1.45pm.

Eric was also a well-known full-back for Alnwick Town Football Club and set up its juniors section, as well as being vice-chairman of the town’s Christmas Lights Committee and a past-captain of Alnmouth Village Golf Club.

There was also a minute’s silence for Eric at Alnwick Town’s match against Norton and Stockton Ancients on Saturday. Fittingly, Alnwick came back from 1-3 down to win a thrilling game 4-3.

Eric, who lived in Shilbottle but spent most of his life in Alnwick, died following a heart attack on February 6.