Chiddingstone’s Real Football is country pursuit with a difference

Chiddingstone's Real Football is country pursuit with a difference
CROWD PLEASER: It’s all kicking off at the Castle Inn in Chiddingstone on Good Friday

Starting at 2pm and lasting for around four hours, the charity event is described as a mixture of football and rugby, though with the emphasis on the latter – there won’t be too many diving prima donnas on show.

A round ball is carried, kicked or thrown over fields, rivers and woodland, with more than a mile between the two goals.

These targets are positioned at two local pubs which each field a team of around 100 – The Castle in Chiddingstone and The Rock at Chiddingstone Hoath.

Many of the participants are fuelled by Larkins bitter from the local brewery, with supplies being ferried around during the action.

The rivalry between the Castle Crusaders and Rock Inn Rollers can be intense, and the rough and tumble is fuelled by lashings of Larkins ale from the local brewery.

‘The players range from fighting fit rugby players to 60-year-old locals that are regulars in the two village pubs’

The Castle outfit are described as ‘the thinking man’s team [who] have invested considerable time in the organisation of food and beverage for a pre-match slap up feed’.

The Rock team, meanwhile, ‘see themselves as drinkers and roarers with the elemental force required to put the Crusaders firmly in their place – scorning the opposing team as overly refined gastro-ites.’

Last year’s event raised more than £5,500 for three charities, the League of Friends of Edenbridge Hospital, West Kent Mind and Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex.

This year, the proceeds will go to the Mind and the Air Ambulance again, and also the Oddballs Foundation, which raises awareness of testicular cancer.

Organiser Katie Ashworth said: “This brings together communities from all the local villages and towns. As the game has grown over the years, it even brings in people from further afield – last year we had people from Scotland attend.

‘The ball cannot be carried by a “four-legged animal” and no one must “intentionally cause harm” to others’

“The players range from fighting fit rugby players to 60-year-old locals that are regulars in the Rock and the Castle. There are no limitations to who or how many people can play, as long as they are over 16.”

She added: “It’s great fun, with over 1,000 spectators now watching the crazy game unfold, followed by a knees-up going on till late, with live music and more Larkins being consumed!

The scores on the doors are that The Castle Crusaders have won 3 games, The Rock Inn Rollers 2 games, and there has been 1 draw. We will just have to wait and see if the Rock can even up the scores, or if the Castle will make another victory!’

The rules are few and far between: Players must not cross any roads, the ball cannot be hidden in a bag or carried by a moving vehicle or ‘four-legged animal’, and no one must ‘intentionally cause harm to others’.

It costs £10 to enter, which includes a team shirt (competitors must be over 16). An after-match party featuring live music will be held at The Castle in Chiddingstone.

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