All to play for as Workington gets set for Uppies and Downies finale

9-year-old Harry prepares to start the second Uppies and Downies match of 2022 Credit: ITV Border

People in Workington are eagerly anticipating the conclusion of the first Uppies and Downies event in three years.

The series is tied at 1-1 between the two sides, whose players come from different parts of the town, with the deciding final match taking place on Saturday (23 April).

Uppies and Downies is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years in the West Cumbrian town. It is a mass ball game with few rules.

The game mostly takes the form of a scrum Credit: ITV Border

Each team aims to 'hail' the leather ball by throwing it in the air three times at a designated spot in their opponent's end of the town.

The event hasn't taken place for the last two years due to the pandemic.

Joe Clark, 70, is an Uppies and Downies veteran. He has represented the Uppies for 54 years.

He said: "The game for the town is actually immense, particularly after two years of lockdown. There's a sense of community again.

"The banter starts just after the new year, who's going to win, Uppies or Downies, who's going to have the bragging rights for the coming year.

"It's rather wild, it's a freedom of expression. It's just sheer exuberance. And in a drab world with all the rules and regulations, it's this sense of freedom that we enjoy just simply playing our beloved game."

Uppies and Downies players come from different areas of Workington Credit: ITV Border

The event also raises thousands of pounds for local charities. This year the firefighters are benefitting, with ten players taking part in a fire engine pull.

One of them was Elvin Jarvis. He said: "The charity aspect is really good because the firefighters are sometimes overlooked. So they go through a lot of trauma and stuff so making a lot of money for them, helping them out.

"With Covid knocking the games on the head it's been really popular again, there's been a lot of people coming supporting us."

The sense of pride around Uppies and Downies is rooted in hundreds of years of history.

Players and spectators will line up once again on Saturday to see who can claim the bragging rights for the next twelve months.