Monday, 18 May 2015

End of Season Roller Round-Up 2014/2015

Wimborne Town. MOIST.
If you work for a large employer, you might have to endure a yearly report with your immediate line manager, in which you have to prove how you have conformed to the company's values over the previous reporting period. The values will all have names - they will be something like "Customer Focussed", "Inspirational" and suchlike. (There's a definite advantage to working for a small company or being self-employed - you can actually get on with your work at this time of the year).

What if pranksters took control of this farrago? What if pranksters took over at the FA* and deemed that non-league groundsmen's equipment had to conform to random bizarre values to justify their existence? What if pranksters created a Random Value Generator and handed out 1,000 different adjectives to our country's army of rusty rollers? Would the old boys be able to conform?

Well, it just so happens that I was given the pranksters' provisional list and was trusted to pull out random values from a fictional hat to give out to some of the rollers that I've photographed over the second half of the season. They were handed out as part of a pilot project last August. Let's see how they performed...

The first value out of the hat last summer was MOIST, which was allocated to Wimborne Town's roller. Well, it must have tried very hard to conform, judging by the amount of rust growing on the left-hand side. Not totally rusty though, so it wouldn't get top marks in the pranksters' grading system. A good pass, though.

*Some people might claim that pranksters already run the FA, but never mind, bear with me on this one...

Laverstock & Ford. KITTENISH.
Salisbury's Laverstock & Ford were given the value of KITTENISH to conform to. A good effort from them, as they encouraged a breeding programme early on which produced this endearing baby roller. It was certainly kittenish upon my visit in January as I threw it a ball of wool to play with. It soon got tangled up and had to be rescued by Mummy Roller. A lot of licking and a good sleep later, and it was ready to go again with a ping pong ball attached to a scratching post.

Baby's name is Charlotte.

Wantage Town. TIMOROUS.
Wantage Town's roller had no problem in living up to its value of TIMOROUS. A wee timorous beastie indeed, as it hid itself under a pile of straggly weeds outside of the main pitch area. He took some finding, as I had to wander out of the ballboy's gate at half-time and search the local hedgerows until I found him. He'd even tried growing some moss on his right-hand side to make himself less visible in the undergrowth.

You can't hide from me though, matey! My rusty roller sixth sense will always dig you out...

Liphook United's roller was asked to live up to the random value of HARDCORE (YOU KNOW THE SCORE). He took this to mean non-stop partying with his mates, the wooden pallets. Looks like the pallets suffered rather badly in the latest party. They'll regret hanging out with Liphook's roller tomorrow morning. Not sure even a pint of Alka-Seltzer will repair that damage...

Hamworthy United. BONHOMOUS.
Hamworthy United's roller had to look up the meaning of BONHOMOUS when it was allocated. When he realised that it meant he just had to be friendly and jovial, he invited over his best friend the heavy-duty orange wheelbarrow for a few snifters of brandy and an evening of tall stories. It was such a success that they had the blue bicycle over the next time. The bicycle felt saddled with expectations, but he spoke about the time he won the Tour de France, tyring out his companions with his lengthy story. They all had a wheely good time and then stayed on to watch Hamworthy's match with Petersfield.

Nice rust, by the way!

Swindon Supermarine. BODACIOUS.
Swindon Supermarine's roller was handed the value of BODACIOUSNESS at the start of last season. Previously a nondescript lead-coloured roller of no great merit, it made a tremendous effort during the season to live up to its allocated value. The addition of hard-rocking spikes impressed the pranksters no end as they gave out their highest award of Mega-Super-Dope-A-Star-Plus. Supermarine's roller can be seen on stage at Download Festival in June replacing late dropouts Five Finger Death Punch on Slipknot's under-bill. He'll be puncturing the stage ready to drain the headliners' rocking pools of heavy sweat to the sounds of the si-i-ckest guitar licks known to man.

Verwood Town. SI-I-I-I-ICK.
Talking of si-i-ick, Verwood Town's roller had trouble interpreting its value of SI-I-I-I-ICK. Frankly, he had no idea what it meant. No spikes, no tattoos of Iron Maiden's Eddie mascot, no attempt to paint itself black...disappointing, and an official warning received for next season to pull its leather socks up or face expulsion from the League of Non-League Rollers.

Incidentally, the values of SI-I-ICK and SI-I-I-ICK were allocated to Thetford Town and Cullompton Rangers's rollers respectively. They both did much better.

Bangor City. SHRIVELLED.
At the start of 2014/15, Bangor City's roller was a two tonne behemoth, but when allocated the value of SHRIVELLED by the FA's pranksters (in cahoots with the Welsh FA's own pranksters), it went on a crash diet, losing 1.99 tonnes over the course of the last nine months, making the cover of Diet Weekly magazine in the meantime as its Groundsmen's Rusty Equipment Slimmer Of The Year. An amazing achievement, and a worthy winner.

I visited Sussex County League Pagham FC in the Spring when Havant & Waterlooville, Pompey and Romsey Town were all playing away. A nice ground with two rollers. The one in the pic above was asked to be HAPPY-GO-LUCKY by the pranksters. By the time I arrived in March, it looked absolutely cream crackered after a season of giving rides around the pitch to dogs, cats, small children and squirrels (you can see scratch marks on the seat as some of the animals tried to leap off when they became scared). It had also been involved in Roller v Wheelbarrow racing contests for the previous eight months. No wonder it looked the worse for wear upon my arrival.

Enough of this nonsense. Previous roller round-ups can be seen by clicking on the "Rollers etc" label on the right. Some of them were relatively sensible...

Thanks to everyone who popped in to read HAH this season (or if you just stopped by to look at the pictures, that's okay too!). Thanks also to all the American, Russian and Ukrainian automated false referral sites that leave their mark in the stats. If it wasn't for your efforts, I would have several thousand less page views! I still won't be clicking on your links, mind.

Back in a couple of weeks with some statistical stuff and some more photos.