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Mining Review 1/2: Workington Football (1947)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The commentary also doubles as a synopsis, and is therefore reproduced in full:

It's Easter in Workington on the Cumberland coast, and everyone is waiting for the start of the historic annual football match between the Uppies and the Downies. The kick-off is at six.

These are the miners and sailors of Workington. They're known as the Uppies and Downies, for originally the miners came from the upper part of town and the sailors down by the docks.

It's an energetic game to play, yet easy to learn, for there are no rules, no referees and no limit to the numbers who take part. Anyone can join in, and sometimes hundreds do. The Uppies try to get the ball into the grounds of Workington Hall up in the town, while the Downies have as their goal a capstone on the dockside. These goals are two miles apart. For nearly two hundred years the game has been played like this at Easter, yet nobody's perfectly sure how it originally started.

It's certainly a boisterous tussle and may last an hour, or continue well into the night. No-one is really safe when this game is played, not even the spectators, for the struggle ebbs and flows through streets and rivers and back gardens. The police put in an appearance just as a matter of form.

And when it's all over, those of the winning side who aren't in hospital have the right to parade the town with the man who scored the goal, collecting free drinks in the pubs. And they certainly deserve it!