Tuesday, 27 May 2014

End of Season Roller Round-Up 2013/2014

Revealed at last! The secret night-time roller of Bracknell Town!
My fellow bloggers are all very good at one thing or another. If you're looking at this on a PC, over on the right, you'll see a link to Neil Cotton's Row Z. Neil is an occasional contributor to When Saturday Comes and writes match reports on his blog covering clubs in South Hampshire. But what he's particularly good at is his statistical pieces. If I think of Row Z, I think of graphs of crowd figures. Have a look, they're very interesting.

Skif at Departing Havant... has a unique way with phrases which make his match reports covering Havant & Waterlooville a good read even if you have no interest in the club he supports.

Derek Hammond and Gary Silke at Got, Not Got are so good at writing that they make a living out of it (see the brilliant Got, Not Got and The Lost World Of Football in WH Smith or Waterstones next time you're browsing their bookshelves. You'll end up buying them both).

For smirks and titters, I turn to Kenny Legg at Adventures In Tinpot. If pictures of hirsute German football fans covered in patched denim is your thing, then head off to AiT.

For photography, you can't beat Jerry at The Onion Bag's photo diaries. He mostly covers northern clubs, but has been to Hampshire to see the likes of Bashley and Petersfield Town. If you start browsing his blog, make sure you start early - you'll be there all evening.

Now, if I could combine the writing skills of Skif, Derek and Gary with the statistical analysis of Neil, the humour of Adventures In Tinpot and the photography of The Onion Bag, then I would have a heck of a blog here. However, I'm known for none of these things. Instead, I have the reputation of being the Rusty Roller Man.

So, if I have to be typecast, let's get on with 2013/14's End Of Season Roller Round-up right here, right now...

Oh, hang on, there's another one!
The first two pictures are from Bracknell Town, and were sent to me by my pal Jeremy at Kidlington FC. These two rollers were securely locked up in a compound on my own visit to Bracknell last September, but had been allowed out for Kidlington's floodlit visit. Perhaps they can only come out at night, like bats. Or vampires. I'd keep well away from them if I were to visit Bracknell again. Evil, blood-sucking rollers...ugh, the very thought!

Quivering away in the brambles at AFC Portchester. Not sure I like the look of that thing with chains.
The roller at AFC Portchester (above) looks like it's being stalked by some kind of Wicked Chain Creature, the sort of thing that rises from the depths of the earth in the Portchester area at full moon, hungry for rust. They don't move whilst you're looking at them, but turn around to watch the match for a minute or two, and you may notice that it's crept a few inches towards the poor old roller in the meantime.

Or has it?

A standard issue roller at Downton FC.
Jeez, I'm starting to scare myself a bit here...

Nothing sinister at Downton, as we spy Henry by the dressing rooms. A standard, common-or-garden roller, Henry has lived at Downton's ground for many years, occasionally being moved to flatten the goalmouths after a particulary rip-roaringly muddy match. Definitely nothing wrong here, unless...that's not another one of those Chain Creatures licking the rust off of Henry's parts, is it?

A mad inventor's flying machine at Downton FC.
Poor old Henry. Perhaps this magical contraption will come to his rescue? Some kind of mad inventor's flying machine design from the 19th century come to life by the entrance at Downton. Wind it up, jump on the back (careful of the rotating blades), and let's fly to Henry and save him! What do you mean, the blades would clearly rotate straight in to that bush? Nonsense! Let's believe!

Attempting to keep warm next to a brazier at Andover Town.
Shivering away in the winter sun next to an empty brazier is this Norwich City supporting roller from the Portway Stadium, home of Andover Town. At least, the green and yellow colours indicate that there's a Norwich connection. Must be feeling a bit sad after the Canaries' relegation. Let's go and find some old sticks, build up a fire and keep the old fella company. We'll cook some chestnuts, melt some marshmallows and down a few beers! I'm sure if Norwich keep the backbone of last season's squad and add a few new faces, they'll be back soon enough, mate!

(I was actually wondering if this roller was sat next to a fire to keep the creepy night creatures away, but I think we've been silly enough already).

A monstrous pair of chaps keeping guard over the cars outside Sholing's ground. No messing with these two!

And inside the Silverlake, a mottled old fella who would be well camouflaged if only he were sitting on a concrete path.
No concerns about keeping the creatures of the night at bay at Sholing with their two big rusty monsters keeping guard outside the stadium, like a pair of well-muscled bouncers. Needing protection inside was the rather weedy specimen above, the Walter The Softy of the roller world. Camouflaged whilst on concrete, vulnerable elsewhere, it must have felt fortunate that its big ruddy mates were there to protect it (or should that be "ruddy big mates"?).

Lining up for inspection at Midhurst & Easebourne FC.
With no other rusty old equipment on show at matches I've reported on since Christmas (with the exception of that attached to the gentlemen of the FA at Wembley...thanks for that joke, Ed!), we move on to Sussex County League Midhurst & Easebourne, whom I watched towards the end of the season. I'd heard about the amount of rusting hulks they have lounging around and had to go and see them for myself. I wasn't disappointed, as there were 10 (TEN!) rollers lolling about around the pitch, sprouting hither and thither like weeds.

Two more rollers growing like weeds at Midhurst.
Most of Midhurst's rollers are behind one goal, near what looks like a 14th century peasants' hut, painstakingly reassembled and all ready to transport to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton - presumably it was an old pavilion or changing rooms, long since fallen in to disuse. A highly photogenic ground and an enjoyable day out.

Easy to spot this silvery beast in the groundsman's shed at Gillingham Town. But can you see any corner flags in the picture above?
My final league match of the season was at Gillingham Town in Dorset. They had a lengthy silver sausage of a roller in their groundsman's shed. They have to be careful when taking this one outside in case the sun's rays reflect off of it and shine in to the eyes of any passing train drivers on the main Paddington to Exeter* line which passes by the ground.

*It may not be the Paddington to Exeter line - I'm just guessing.

That Rusty Roller Man reputation...I just bring it on myself, don't I? Other round-ups can be viewed by clicking on the "Rollers etc" tag.

Enjoy the World Cup everyone. And if anybody has any Panini Brasil 2014 sticker swaps, let me know - I have many.


  1. Andrew , thanks for another great season of reports. Hope you have a great summer and we must hook up next time i 'migrate' south,


  2. Cheers OB! I may be working around the St Helens area in early September. Hoping for a midweek home fixture for Prescot Cables. Don't know if that would be convenient for you on a Tuesday night? If not, there should be something else nearby.

  3. Just let me know nearer the time, we will sort something out i am sure - send me a private email ?

  4. Thank you for your kind words Andrew, I'm dead chuffed. I'm a big fan of the rusty rollers too and hope there will be more next season - you definitely have to get down to Fordingbridge to see that huge roller they have down there. Summer is stats season for me and there are a few things I'm working on and I haven't forgotten the taller player thing, just tying to find a data source somewhere!


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