HUNDREDS of people descended on the streets of St Columb Major today in the latest staging of one of the oldest sporting rivalries in Cornwall.
For hundreds of years, townsmen and countrymen from the town have traditionally battled for the possession of a silver ball, which they try to get out of the parish.
Known as hurling, the often-fiercely contested event, which lasts well over an hour, has been dominated by townsmen in recent years.
That trend continued yesterday when last year’s winner, 21-year-old Marco Ciarleglio, again carried the ball across the parish boundary for the townsmen.
Mayor Paul Wills said it was a hugely important day for the town.
He said: “Hurling is the biggest event on the St Columb calendar. It’s a way of life that goes back hundreds of years, the silver ball itself is the symbol of our town and it gives us a tremendous amount of pride.”
The ball itself has an applewood core and a silver coating, weighs about 21 ounces and has been made by the same family for the best part of a century.
Colin Rescorla, whose grandfather first started making the ball in the 1920s, has made it for the last 25 years. He said the match, which is carried out on Shrove Tuesday and then the second Saturday afterwards each year, is a vital celebration.
“I’m very proud to be able to do it,” he said. “The Cornish should keep all their traditions.”