Centuries-old Shrovetide tradition makes a splash in Alnwick

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St Michael’s secured bragging rights with victory over St Paul’s in Alnwick’s annual Shrovetide match.

They secured a 2-0 win in saturated conditions on the Pastures thanks to ‘hales’ from Andy Flannigan and Lee Pattinson.

It was the sixth year running that Pattinson, the St Michael’s captain, has scored.

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“It was a yard out, just my range,” noted Pattinson. “That puts me just one behind Steve Temple now so I’m going for his record next year.”

Action from the Alnwick Shrovetide Football Match, which St Michael's won 2-0.Action from the Alnwick Shrovetide Football Match, which St Michael's won 2-0.
Action from the Alnwick Shrovetide Football Match, which St Michael's won 2-0.

Around 40 players contested the game, including American students from St Cloud State University studying at Alnwick Castle.

Lord Max Percy, youngest son of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, threw the match ball from Alnwick Castle’s barbican before players and spectators paraded across the Lion Bridge to the playing field.

In a break from tradition, last year’s winning scorer allowed Lord Max to kick off the match.

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St Paul’s had the best of the early play without really threatening to score, only for St Michael’s to score a breakaway goal just 10 minutes in.

Andy Flannigan was the man in the right spot to neatly flick the ball home from just two yards out.

“I’m delighted with that,” he said.

St Michael’s piled on the pressure in search of a match-winning second, with Joe Lawless going close with a thunderous volley from distance.

Shortly afterwards, he secured an assist with another long-range effort helped in by Pattinson to take victory for St Michael’s.

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Player awards were then handed out before a hardy few maintained a tradition of attempting to get the match ball to the other side of the River Aln.

The honour went to Will McDougall who will be allowed to keep the ball.

“It was very cold but good fun,” he said.

The match was first recorded in 1762.

The original game was played through the town’s streets, but this was discontinued in the 1820s.

In 1858, instead of being played between the unmarried and married freemen, the match was first contested between St Michael’s and St Paul’s.

The game has only a few rules with the goals decorated with greenery and standing about 400 yards apart.

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