For this project, Dominic Manderson photographed the normally quiet town of Ashbourne during its turbulent annual game of Royal Shrovetide Football. Manderson describes the game as “a brutal yet significant event for locals, where over two days the town is divided by the river into two teams, with goals spanning a stretch of three miles”.
“Hundreds of men sprawl in huddles across the Derbyshire town, brawling for a touch of the ball,” he continues. “To score is a momentous achievement due to the game’s illustrious legacy. Therefore, it is the responsibility of future generations to act as custodians for the game.”
Manderson hopes to raise wider societal questions with his work. “Alongside its aggressive nature, my work questions the line between tradition and patriarchy,” and considers whether this event allowing men to fulfil their image of masculinity is a positive thing, he says. “With younger generations in particular, in the context of a society that now questions gender norms, will they emulate the brutal traditions of the past to keep this game alive?”