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Waterlogged pitch no deterrent for annual river football clash

The biggest crowd for years watched the August Bank Holiday match in the Cotswolds.

(Ben Birchall/PA)
(Ben Birchall/PA)

By Rod Minchin, PA

Football matches are normally called off if the pitch is waterlogged – except in the Cotswolds.

Two teams braved chilly water to take part in the annual Football In The River match in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.

The 30-minute game was played out between Bourton Rovers 1st XI and 2nd XI.

More than 1,000 spectators lined the banks of the river to enjoy the spectacle as Britain basked in record-breaking temperatures for the August Bank Holiday.

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Bourton Rovers 1st team take on Bourton Rovers 2nd team in the River Windrush (Ben Birchall/PA)

The annual five-a-side clash takes place in the ankle-deep water of the River Windrush.

It is not clear how the idea of playing a football match in a river first arose, but the tradition has reportedly been going strong for around 100 years.

The match, which raises funds for Bourton Rovers, regularly draws large crowds, and fans are advised to wear waterproofs if they plan to stand close to the side of the “pitch”.

This year’s match ended 2-1 to the 1st XI, who scored a late winner after going ahead 1-0 when they scored from a saved penalty.

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This year’s match ended 2-1 to the 1st XI (Ben Birchall/PA)

Match official Jack Galpin, who refereed the game dressed as a woman, ruled out a controversial equaliser for the 2nd XI because of a foul.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “Good game. We think we’ve raised a load of money for the club as the stalls were really popular earlier with visitors.

“It’s always a good turnout for the match and this year’s crowd is probably the biggest it has been for several years.”

Justifying ruling out a potential equaliser, Mr Galpin said: “That was a really controversial decision and we had to get VAR involved.”

PA

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