Peter Baxter

Wild in the Streets

An elderly woman peers out of her second story window to catch a glimpse of the mob below. Hundreds piled upon hundreds of angry men are screaming, gnashing and fighting with each other while thousands wait beyond them either for their turn to battle or to see the action as it draws closer. In the middle, a big leather ball. This is Royal Shrovetide Football. Mass Football as it’s sometimes called, and every year the town of Ashbourne plays it, carrying on a tradition that’s been around since at least the 12th century. There are almost no rules (murder and manslaughter are thankfully forbidden), and it involves getting a ball from the town square to your team’s goal 1.5 miles away in the span of 8 hours. It’s the grandfather of football, soccer and rugby, and Peter Baxter‘s documentary Wild In the Streets seeks to tell its story without damaging any camera equipment. It’s unclear whether any cameras were hurt in the making of this film, but the result is a vibrant, interesting doc that’s little more than a slight curiosity.

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