Atherstone Ball Game 2024 winner revealed as touching tributes paid to past champion

The 824th game was held in Long Street amid huge crowds

Alex Young’s name will go down in Atherstone history after he was declared the winner of the 824th game to be held in the town. He was clinging onto the famed leather ball as the klaxon sounded at 5pm today (February 13).

Celebrations have this year been tinged with sadness following the death of a past winner. Danny Murray, who won in 2017, sadly passed away last week.

His name was chanted by a group as they walked along Long Street prior to the game starting. A minute’s silence was also held in his memory

Ben Brooks, who was holding off the Grendon raids for close to 40 minutes in the run-up to the end of the game, said everyone was keen to pay their respects to him. “He was someone I know,” said the 30 -year-old, who was taking part in his tenth ball game.

“Everyone today paid their respects which I thought was a really nice touch. It was a lovely tribute to him.

“It was a hard-fought ball game. Alex Young who won it did well to keep it for 40 minutes.

“It was good, I enjoyed it. The rain cooled us down.”

Atherstone’s own comic star Josh Pugh was given the honour of starting the ball game, throwing out the leather ball from the window above Mark Webster Estate Agents. As usual, non players were given the chance to touch and kick the ball.

Then the ‘proper’ game got under way. This year, the heat of the game was played out close to the Co-op with a pack forming and then not moving for more than half an hour.

It was from there that the klaxon was sounded. Alex Young was crowned the winner.

This year saw a heavier police presence than usual with eight riot vans on stand-by. This was because Warwickshire Police had said beforehand that they would not tolerate the scenes that emerged last year that were caught on camera and went viral.