Help me ID this football-type game

The other day, we went for a walk in Winchester, along the river Itchen; there were some playing fields there and a game of what initially appeared to be rugby was in progress.

As we got closer, it turned out to be something entirely different; it was a little difficult to see throught the crowds, but it was being played on a long, narrow pitch with a post-and-rope fence along both of the long edges, the ends were open and there was a tall pole at each corner - there were no discernible goals, just the completely open ends of the pitch.
There were two teams in play, seemingly composed of quite a large number of individuals, perhaps as many as twenty per team. The ball appeared to be a standard round leather football and (I should have paid more attention) I think manual handling was permitted.

What is this game?

OH heck - you know what - I remember a question that seem very much the same as this one, but I don’t recall the damn answer! It was before the new software.
ANd it coudl be a hard one to seach for.:frowning:

I imagine they were playing Winchester Football, one of the precursors of modern football. I’m pretty sure they still play it.

As you were in Winchester, my guess is that it’s almost certainly Winchester College Football. This is a 15 or 6 a-side came played only at Winchester College, one of Englands top public school’s. The only explanation of the game I could find on the net:

(scroll done to short entry on Winchester College Football)

There’s a detailed description some way down this page. Sounds marginally less complicated than Quidditch.

Hey! Winchester! I lived there for a little bit while I was working for an MP. Were you travelling the path through the Water Meadows?

Anyway, when I was there I asked the same question and my native companions told me it was Winchester Football.

Yes, it was near the water meadows.

Apparently you can walk all the way along the riverside right down to the sea; I intend to try this sometime soon.