The Cotswold Village is one of the most beautiful villages in England. But at the end of August, the village became the center of attention not for its beauty, but for its famous football game, dubbed Bourton-on-the-Water.
In this village, on the Windrush River, an unusual football match took place. The players chase, dribble, kick and score the ball over a shallow river, around the ankle.
The two teams that competed were not from well-known football clubs. They were members of the local football team that called themselves the Bourton Rovers club.
The players wear full soccer clothes, including shoes. Hundreds of spectators lined the riverbank watching the match filled with laughter. The match for 30 minutes itself ended with the score 1-1, with no extra time or penalties.
“The game was fun and there was a lot of spectators,” said organizing committee chairman Matt Winter. “This match got the players soaking wet but the water wasn’t too cold and the pitch was a bit uneven,” he added.
Winter says the tradition began about 120 years ago when visitors to the riverside Kingsbridge Pub got bored and decided to have an impromptu soccer game on the water.
COVID-19 has presented challenges in maintaining that tradition. Last year a small group of players kept the game going despite only two innings, which were only five minutes each. [ab/uh]