Narrated by Sean Bean and directed by Peter Baxter, WILD IN THE STREETS follows the passionate participants and supporters of the ancient game of Shrovetide Football where the field of play is the town itself. As the lifeblood of Ashbourne, an English market town, Shrovetide has been played for thousands of years and is widely considered the longest running sports rivalry on earth. Against all odds, while kings, revolutions and wars have tried to stop this ancient tradition, a passionate community has kept alive this hidden meaning of life – not valued in pounds or dollars but in sportsmanship and friendship of the game.
This mass football match can be directly attributed to the origins of soccer, rugby and American football, but where those sports have been taken over by corporate ownership and scandal both on and off the field, Shrovetide has stayed true to the pure elements of sport overall.
Originally started from two medieval communities living opposite the river Henmore, today they are known as the Up’ards and Down’ards. Toward the end of winter on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, while people around the world celebrate Mardi Gras, the residents of Ashbourne gather in the center of town to compete in this two-day event that involves thousands of players with no referee and few rules. Among them: the ball cannot be carried in motorized transport. Cemeteries, churchyards and memorials are out of bounds. Under no circumstances is manslaughter to be tolerated.
The object of the game does remain simple: get a 4-pound ball to one of two goals that are three miles apart; in turn, sharing in a piece of immortality that will define a person’s life and inexplicably bond a community together like nothing else seen before in modern sports.
And for the past 10 years the “posh” Up’ards have dominated every contest. Yet this time, as the “dirty” Down’ards prepare for revenge, both teams will have to fight an additional foe; modern society.
"An energetic, intriguing documentary...the spirited film packs a universal appeal"
Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
"After watching the film for 11 seconds you're hooked"
Bill Littlefield, NPR
"revelas the true heart of sportsmanship..."
Johnny Logan, Slug Magazine