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Chasing the Cheese with Revenge of the Lawn

Isle of Wight Band Race at Cooper's Hill
And so, the Revenge of the Lawn team set off early on a very wet and windy Monday morning to drive up to Gloucester for the Cheese-rolling Races at Cooper's Hill, near Gloucester.
Driving conditions were appalling but in the back of the team van, the coach was still deciding which one of the three Lawn members was to be picked as the main chaser: Rattlehead, Baptist or Prick-Ear.
At the entrance to the parking field, the team van got stuck so a quick warm-up was called for in pushing the van out of the mud. This caused a panic with the coach because it was nearing 12.00, the roll-off for the first race.
Striding out ahead and mumbling muttered oaths, the team coach [on right, in gaily coloured boots and lime green top] strode out ahead up the hill towards the start at the top. Confidence was high as we had been training at Gatcliff on the Island in wet conditions during the winter. Today was wet and muddy - our coach's favourite conditions for wrestling.
We were a bit dismayed by the throng of would-be competitors, but after studying them closely, we realised most were severely hampered by being young, flexible-limbed, fit and athletic, often veering on the rugby player. They wouldn't present a problem. The cheese-master, the official who organises the start and let's go the cheese, can be standing in his Cheese-rolling outfit of white coat and top hat behind.
Our coach's first move was to position a couple of look-outs in the largest tree overlooking the start - that way they could observe opponents' movements and throw things at them - let's face it, we weren't going to win without a bucket-load of cheating.
[Incidentally the wind picked up later and both were blown out of the tree, escaping with only minor injuries. We learnt that you should never send your most pissed team members up a tree as look-outs. Useful one that for next year.]
Start of the first race. The Cheesemaster prepares the competitors, as they line up ready to chase the cheese down the hill. Mainly 1 in 2, there are places were it becomes 1 in 1.
And they're off. The cheese can be seen rolling off on the left. Most are standing at the start but within seconds of this photo, most are tumbling over and over or sliding down on their arses.
Here the Cheesmaster tries to move the crowd back. The second race is the most prestigious and therefore the one we were aiming for. Rattlehead, Baptist and Prick-Ear all made for the entrance onto the rolling slope. Our coach caused as large an obstruction as possible nearby hoping to prevent as many others from reaching the entrance. Unable to stem the onslaught, she had no other recourse than to take her top off in order to cause a distraction. It was enough to allow us to squeeze to the entrance. Rattlehead managed to get a hand in to caress the Cheesemaster's groin, which he looked on most favourably. Seeing the chance, the coach yelled out "Prick-Ear", who was ushered through onto the slope by a happy and tingly Cheesemaster.
We had done it. Revenge of the Lawn were on the slope.
At the foot of the slope, protected behind straw bales, the world's press eagerly await Revenge of the Lawn's debut roll.
The thin blue, white and red line. A long barrier of track stewards await the descent of the chasers - their job is to act as buffers and stop any contestant from ending up in Gloucester.
The crowd wait expectantly for Prick-Ear's much talked about 'triple crab-barrel roll' descent.
Prick-Ear [in white t-shirt with his back to camera] standing waiting for the start. There is as much commotion among the crowds as people slip and fall, shout, yell, and continually move around in a large heaving mass.
The first chaser comes crashing down in rather an uncontrollable and ungainly manner, having lost control of the magnificent full axis body spin that helped him gain the lead.
Two more contestants come thundering down - one of them ending up with his head embedded in the ground. Like the Roman Colisseum audiences, the crowd get more excited, the more the contestants are chucked around.
In this race, the chasers overtook the cheese , which came in a respectable third.
A Japanese contestant rolls in.
Prick-Ear came in eighth out of ninteen, but was unable to stop. He started off erect and proud, then slid smoothly into his special move. Almost immediately, he was unable to sustain his much renowned 'triple crab-barrel roll' and his descent became a truely chaotic, panic-stricken flailing into Hell. This was no controlled tumble - it was a complete uncoordinated diving hurtle towards the bottom. Unable to stop, he broke through the track stewards, flattened a Latvian television crew before crashing into, and partly demolishing, a garden fence. Here he can just be seen [centre] on the floor being tended by St. John's ambulance medics. On the left, aided by two officials, a disgruntled contestant can be seen mugging the winner of the cheese, while the press snap away. Such is the unregulated, rule-less nature of this event.
A view of the hill
from the top.
The Ladies race about to start. The official on the left holds the cheese ready for the Cheesemaster.
The Ladies Race in full flight.
And so, with an eighth place tucked under our belts, we bade a fond farewell to Cooper's Hill and vowed to return next year with a complete squad of seven fully-trained chasers and win a cheese in the name of Revenge of the Lawn.