Published on May 2nd, 2012 | by Adrian Simpson0
Cheese Rolling – How Mature!
You’ve probably heard of the cheese rolling festival. It’s the ‘wacky’ event where idiots chase a Double Gloucester down a hill in Gloucestershire. Idiots might sound a bit harsh, but seriously, come on, there are much more fun ways to risk serious injury and plenty more fun ways of getting down steep hills as well. Even still, it seems cheese rolling is here to stay.
The annual ‘celebration’ takes place at Cooper’s Hill near Gloucester and its popularity has spread quicker than cream cheese on a cracker, mutating from a traditional event for villagers in Brockworth every Spring Bank Holiday to one which attracts competitors from across the country, thousands of spectators and media attention from around the globe.
A large, round Double Gloucester cheese
The premise is a simple one: a large, round Double Gloucester cheese is rolled from the top of a hill reaching speeds of up to 70mph while herds of competitors charge after it with the person who crosses the finish line first winning the cheese. Spectators need to keep their wits about them too, as in 1998 a cameraman was knocked over by the fast-paced cheese itself, just one of a long list of painfully funny injuries suffered over the years.
It is a tradition believed to go back more than 200 years when it began as part of a range of entertainment that made up the Cooper’s Hill Wake, a community event where people did things like ‘wrestling for a belt’, ‘grinning through a horse's collar for a cake’ and 'bobbing for penny loaves smeared in treacle'. Presumably it was the loaves smeared in treacle, not the people. The cheese rolling went on to become the most famous aspect of the wake and it has survived some testing times along the way, including wartime rationing when a wooden cheese was used in place of the real thing.
The event has faced further threats in recent years. It seems the real danger is not people running drunkenly down a hill, but too many spectators – reportedly more than 15,000 – turning up and trying to cram onto the hill, leading to protests from local authorities. Attempts to restrict numbers (or cash in, depending who you ask) by charging a £20 entry fee were roundly rebuffed last year leading to the official organising committee cancelling the event and disbanding, but determined cheese-fanciers instead staged their own unofficial races free from the tyranny of entry fees or much management whatsoever. But with or without offical organisation in place, cheese rolling is pretty much carnage.
Most people probably turn up just hoping to see some stupid injuries so in the spirit of solidarity we thought we’d take a look back at some of the finest displays of self-inflicted damage. Think of it as a cheese rolling hall of shame.
Watch this woman tumble and just keep on tumbling. And just to add insult to injury she’s nowhere near winning. It’s the ‘oohs and aahs’ of the crowd which really capture the atmosphere.
When cheese rolling goes bad. This guy 24 seconds in is the perfect advert for why this is a slightly daft pursuit, as his limp body rolls semi-conscious down the hill before paramedics arrive on scene and reveal his bloodied face. Don’t panic, he was apparently fine. And hats off to his rival racer who stopped to help.
This video captures the true lunacy of the event as bodies fly through the air, tumbling at pace, crashing into each other before being stretchered away by paramedics. Plus you get the added bonus of one guy doing it in a thong (and probably thinking he’s the first person ever to have that crazy idea) and the helpful shout of an enthusiastic woman in the crowd who yells, “get the cheese!” Nice to know someone has remembered why they’re doing all this.