Published on August 17th, 2012 | by Chris Wotton0
Wading in the deep: Football in the River Bourton
We write about some weird, wonderful and wacky venues for some of the world’s odder festivals – so perhaps the plain old Cotswolds is not where you might expect our latest choice of less than ordinary event to take place. But you would be wrong – the annual match of Football in the River Bourton has seen members of local team Bourton Rovers Football Club put together six-a-side teams and wade into ankle deep waters between two of the Gloucestershire village’s central bridges for a slightly wetter than usual variant of the beautiful game. With goal posts erected under the bridges and players in either their brightly coloured shorts (and nothing else – ooh-err) or even fancy dress, the scene is set.
A video from the 2008 match, the referee standard could be considered on par with the premier league.
The event, which takes place each year on the summer’s last bank holiday at the end of August, raises funds for the football club by way of sponsorship and donations. The half an hour match – at fifteen minutes in each direction, just a third of the length of a regular football match – pulls in hundreds if not thousands of spectators just as prepared to get a soaking themselves as the team on the muddy ‘pitch’, aka the brook, are.
The tourist web site for the village of Bourton on the Water, labelling itself as the Venice of the Cotswolds, talks about the river Windrush meandering ‘through some of Britain’s most charming countryside where unspoiled fields and natural woodland complement the expression of rural England.’ And while that might be true for most of the year, it is certainly not the impression you will come away with if you choose to visit the area at the time of this loud, messy but friendly and very very fun summer festival.
This year’s Football in the River Bourton festival will take place on Monday 27 August, Bank Holiday Monday in the UK. Bourton on the River is located between Cirencester and tow on the Wold – from London, head for Cheltenham on the M40 and A40 via Oxford, then take the A429; the post code for your sat nav is GL54 2AQ. Do note that parking is limited.
Or for a water fuelled day of footie on public transport, take the train to Moreton-in-Marsh station then connect to bus number 801 or 855 from the centre of the village to Bourton on the Water. The 801 will also get you to Bourton on the Water from Cheltenham Royal Wells, which can be reached from Cheltenham Spa train station.
However you get here, come wearing waterproof clothes if you plan on getting up close and involved in the on-pitch river based action – you will get wet! The football match coincides with the village’s annual fete, meaning there is plenty to do all day long, and things tend to get going from around 10am.