Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Unruly Game of Mob Football


If the legend is true. the game of mob football began with a bit of a kick about with a severed head. The game caught on, but using a ball instead of a head. Even with a ball though, it remains a rough game and, in some part of the UK,  it remains a popular bank holiday activity. What am I talking about? The game of mob football. A game with very few rules and where the players have even been known to loose their lives instead of a penalty.

Mob football continues to be a popular game in certain areas of the UK. In Sedgefield, there's a game every year on Shrove Tuesday and the local shops have been known to board up their windows for the occasion. This may seem a little extreme, but  this is not an ordinary game of football. It's mob football and in mob football there are very few rules.

The game of  mob football did not originate in Sedgefield and it is not the only place where the game is played. It is a very old sport, however, and there is a rather nasty legend that states the game was originally played with the head of a Danish Prince who had once ruled England, but had been deposed and beheaded.

 Mob football can have any number of players and it is not a team sport. In fact the game can get so rough that in the past people have been known to loose their lives during play.  Apparently in 1,280, and then again in 1,320 some players had fatal accidents because they were carrying sheath knives while playing.

Traditionally mob football can be played on any bank holiday, including Christmas and New Year and other places where you can witness a game include Ashbourne in Derbyshire and the Orkney Islands, where it is known as the Ba Game.