Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The 3rd Annual Festive Parade of Rusty Rollers

The Cobra at Brockenhurst FC.
Welcome to Hopping Around Hampshire's third annual Festive Parade Of Rusty Rollers! Make yourself at home whilst I present the first half of the 2013/14 season's collection of non-league groundsmen's equipment.

I thought I was never going to see a new roller again after starting the season at Pompey, Romsey Town and Hythe & Dibden - only Romsey had one on show, and I've featured that one before. Luckily, I do go to matches other than the ones I write about on here, so a visit to Brockenhurst for their FA Cup game with Folland Sports at the end of August came up trumps with what I've christened "The Cobra", due to its bent handle/neck. Hissss!

Spotting The Cobra was a good thing. However, I was gutted to see that Tabitha Tractor had gone. Still one of my favourite Hampshire grounds though, even without the old girl.

On a breezeblock at Kidlington FC.
I'm following Hampshire clubs in the FA Vase this season, so I've filed reports from outside the county from time to time. There were rollers at all three "foreign" fields I've visited thus far. Unfortunately, I failed to photograph the one at Bracknell Town - I only spotted it on my way out of the ground, through some wooden slats in a compound. Shyness overcame me as I suddenly believed that everyone was watching me (it is a bit weird snapping these things, after all), so I walked on past, whistling a tuneless tune of regret.

On my next Vase trip to Kidlington, I had a beer in the clubhouse before the match, and somehow, all shyness disappeared. I was straight outta the bar, my dander well and truly up as I spotted a roller on a breezeblock and some old grass-cutting equipment attempting to hide in the undergrowth.

Andover New Street's roller had a front row seat for their bonfire in November.
During a break from the Vase, I revisited Andover New Street on the day of their bonfire party, and thank goodness I did, as I found the old fella above, cowering near the huge pile of wood that would later go up in flames. I patted it and comforted it and assured it that everything would be fine - "You're made out of metal mate, they won't burn you"...

Andover New Street's overworked leaf-picker having a well-earned rest.
...also at New Street was an overworked and stressed leaf-picker, resting against the back of a dugout after a busy morning's work clearing the pitch for their match against Fleet Spurs.

Hidden out of sight at Odd Down (Bath).
Back on the Vase trail in November, it was time to go to Bath for some Christmas shopping and a match at Odd Down. No groundsmen's equipment around the pitch, but through a gap in a gate, I could see Les B's rusty lump of old iron. And was that a white line painter behind?

Moneyfields to the rescue!
You can always trust Moneyfields to come up with some rusty gems. At their abandoned Vase match with Bitton a fortnight ago, I found many many pieces of much-loved equipment lying around. I think I may have snapped the above roller before, but it was in a different place, so I'm counting it for a second time. Tick! Behind the roller was a rather exciting mini-dumper truck, which several small boys found irresistible as an oversized toy throughout the match.

Lined up ready for inspection at Moneyfields.
Beside the stand was more equipment, including an old watering can. Nice, but not as fascinating as these wheelbarrows, all lined up on parade ready for inspection. Oi, Yellow Wheels! Have a wash!

A proper turnstile at Bracknell Town FC.
To make up for the episode of shyness at Bracknell, I'm ending this Festive Parade not with a roller, but with one of The Robins' splendid old turnstiles. Part of what made their Larges Lane ground my favourite new ground of the first half of the season.

Previous Festive Parades can be found here and here. End of season round ups are here and here.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers. And who made the 40,000th page view just before I started typing this morning? Probably a spambot.


  1. Today at Knutsford FC (Cheshire League) you would of had a field day ... rollers every where !