Bank holiday football in the river

Water-logged pitches? Rain stops play? Not over in the Cotswolds this August bank holiday.

Paul Roberts: The  two  sides line up in the water.
Paul Roberts: The two sides line up in the water.

Every year, the waters of the peaceful River Windrush are disturbed by the splashing feet of 12 players from Bourton Rovers Football Club, who play two annual six-a-side games for charity.

Wingers wearing waders? Strikers in scuba gear? Offside’s Paul Roberts headed down to see what all the fuss is about.

The pitches of the Premier League may struggle to cope with a heavy downpour, but overly damp conditions are vital to the success of Bourton-in-the-water river football.

Paul Roberts: Refereeing is such a drag...
Paul Roberts: Refereeing is such a drag…

This unique fixture has been played for more than 100 years, and has entertained thousands of spectators in that time. Every year the grassy banks become makeshift stands for the crowds of well-wishers and followers.

Never mind half-and-half scarves and tribal replica shirts however. Waterproofs are the usual attire for the fans of football in the river, especially for those with the best view of the action, right by the waters edge.

Offside is the UK’s leading independent sports photography agency, home to an extensive collection of classic First Division and Premier League pictures as well as other images from across the world of sport. Explore Offside’s unique library at

Follow Offside on Twitter at @welloffside.


Author: gregianjohnson

Football writer for The Blizzard, FourFourTwo, The Mirror, Squawka and VICE amongst others. Follow me on Twitter at @gregianjohnson.

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