It’s basketball but for stocky English dudes. Picture: Joe Giddens
It’s basketball but for stocky English dudes. Picture: Joe Giddens

Ear ‘torn off’ in British massacre

SOMETIMES a casual kick of the footy in the park with 900 blokes just isn't enough to whet your competitive appetite and quiet lust for blood.

Enter the Atherstone Ball Game.

Combining all the best aspects of the UFC, volleyball and Gloucester's famous cheese wheel chase, the Atherstone Ball game is a brutal event pitting hundreds of Warwickshire locals against each other to fight over a ball for two hours.

The game began way back in 1199 - when teams used a bag of gold instead of a ball - and  developed into something of a British tradition, taking place annually on Shrove Tuesday.

Up she goes. Basically what the first bounce looks like in Aussie rules. Picture: Joe Giddens
Up she goes. Basically what the first bounce looks like in Aussie rules. Picture: Joe Giddens

The game is easy to play - all you have to do is hold the ball, with the last man in possession ball at 5pm being declared the victor.Described as "Medieval football", the Atherstone Ball Game has but two simple rules:

1. Don't take it outside Long Street

2. Don't kill anyone

If only AFL were as simple - and less congested.

There’s something brilliantly British about an organised riot. Picture: Joe Giddens
There’s something brilliantly British about an organised riot. Picture: Joe Giddens

Reports from The Mirror claimed a man's ear was "ripped off" in last week's match, where bulky British men threw punches and headbutted and trapped each other in headlocks.

This year's victor, 39-year-old Jonathan Slesser, said his triumph meant "everything to me".

"This is the ball game, it is what we are here for," the four-time victor told UK Metro.

Killing? No can do. Ripping off ears? Just do it quick. Picture: Joe Giddens
Killing? No can do. Ripping off ears? Just do it quick. Picture: Joe Giddens

"I am nothing without my team, I owe it all to them. I wasn't that confident in winning at the start. Tactics are a spur-of-the-moment thing. I think it is somebody else's turn to win it next year now."

Throwing hands should be a national sport. Picture: Joe Giddens
Throwing hands should be a national sport. Picture: Joe Giddens

While organisers denied anyone's ear was "ripped off", the amount of blood in that last picture clear indicated that at least a few people left Long Street that afternoon with a bit less skin.

Don't worry, I'm thinking it too. This is possibly the greatest sport to ever grace planet Earth.

News Corp Australia

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