|Bridport FC. Well camouflaged.|
Sadly, this season, I've noticed a worrying decline in the number of rollers at the grounds that I've visited.
*Not really, I made that up.
|Shaftesbury FC. Inoculated.|
Firstly, there has been an outbreak of rusty roller disease in the UK this year. It's a lot like myxomatosis in rabbits, in that it strikes quickly and can wipe out entire roller populations within weeks if they haven't been inoculated beforehand. Dr Mark thinks that the disease arrived on board a container ship docking at Southampton early in 2016, which explains the lack of any rollers at the three Hampshire League grounds I've visited over the last few months (either that, or they've been safely locked away in store rooms on the day of my visit - Dr Mark wasn't sure).
|Shaftesbury FC. The Chaser.|
Poachers are paid a small fortune for the right kind of roller rust, and apparently, the damp British climate produces the perfect type of rust for the Chinese medicine-makers. Dr Mark wants me to ask around the grounds in the second half of the season to root out any evidence of this trade in the UK.
|Goodwick United. Safe in Wales.|
However, climate change often leads to habitat change, which for many plants, insects and mammals which can't adapt quickly enough, can devastate their populations. Sudden manmade habitat change can be even more disastrous, and Dr Mark has identified a major cause of roller decline in this area of study.
He's noted the rise in artificial football pitches in the UK and has concluded that rollers are no longer needed at the likes of Hamworthy United or Alton FC. This would explain their disappearance at these specific locations, he has concluded.
|Conwy Borough. Friend of the hosepipes.|
Moving on to Shaftesbury, which is close to the edge of the disease zone, their roller was inoculated in good time and looks very healthy. It also has a vicious attack-mower (christened "The Chaser") to guard it from poaching. Dr Mark will recommend both of these methods of survival in his report.
Wales is a long way from the centre of the disease outbreak, and is also outside of the poachers' zone of operations, so the rollers at Goodwick United in Pembrokeshire and Conwy Borough on the North Wales coast should be relatively safe. However, the roller at Conwy has taken precautionary measures by surrounding itself with hosepipes. In the event of attack, it will use the hosepipes as a water cannon substitute. Good idea. Not sure why it has a whitewashed Mercedes badge. I'll leave it to Dr Mark investigate.
|Worthing FC. Invasive species.|
Dr Mark White-Lines will publish his report in to the disappearance of rusty rollers in the UK early in 2017. In the meantime, I shall assist him by finding rollers at grounds I visit in the new year and seeing how they've survived.
Happy New Year everyone. Thank you for reading HAH as I reach the end of my sixth full year of doing this. Year 7 will start on January 14th, weather permitting!