Uppies and Downies!

This is the game that has been played in Workington every Easter for longer than anyone can remember.

In recent years it has been threatened with extinction thanks to building development but somehow it just carries on.

What are the rules?

Well that is a bit difficult to explain. The fact is there are no discernible rules, although organisers do frown on people sneaking the ball into their cars and driving to the winning spot!

There can be up to 1,000 people on each side and almost as many watching the game.

The object of the game is to "hail the ball" (throw it up in the air three times) at the opposing team's goal. The Downies' goal is a capstan on the Prince of Wales' dock, while the Uppies' is the gates of Workington Hall Parklands.

It is difficult to know where fact ends and legend starts but there are stories of the ball being chased through the local cinema (now Wetherspoons).

Considering the sheer number of players, that must have been quite a shock for those who had decided to forego the spectacle of Uppies and Downies to enjoy a quiet film.

Shops, too, have come to a halt when thousands rushed through chasing after the specially made ball.

A keen young New Zealand rugby player and ardent follower of the All Blacks, happened to be here one Easter and went down to watch the game.

He was completely amazed - and for a quite different reason: "If you ever got a bunch of Kiwis chasing a ball like that there would definitely be a fight breaking out.

"This is chaos but it seems to be organised chaos. Everyone is trying to get the ball but I haven't seen a single punch swung."

There we go!

Uppies and Downies - the gentleman's game!