On August Bank Holiday Monday each year at 4pm, one of the Cotswolds’ most quirky and iconic events, takes place in the centre of Bourton-on-the-Water.
The calm and shallow River Windrush is invaded by two teams of players from Bourton Rovers Football Club battling it out for victory in the annual ‘Football in the River’ match.
The traditional match dates back more than 100 years and attracts thousands of spectators who converge on the river’s banks and bridges to watch the match. But it’s not just the players that get wet, many of the spectators do as well, with lots coming prepared with umbrellas, even when it’s not raining!
Goalposts are set up in the river with the pitch approximately 50 metres long by 9 metres wide. The game is usually about 20 minutes each half, depending on the temperature of the water. There is a qualified referee in charge and proper football rules apply, with the only difference is that the match is played in the river.
Rumour has it that it was started by some men who were bored, so to break the boredom they decided to jump in the river and have a kick about and it’s carried on ever since. The annual river football match, is regarded internationally as a typically quirky British event!
Watch a clip from the 2008 match below: