Officially, it doesn’t exist; the ancient and unique custom known as cheese rolling was officially banned in 2009.
It was the year it got publicised around the world, thus encouraging 15,000 visitors to gridlock the modest village of Brockworth in Gloucestershire to see the annual peculiarity.
Who wouldn’t want to go see someone bowling huge round Double Gloucester cheeses down the 1 in 3 grassy slope of Cooper’s Hill and watch people running down chasing them? It’s pure, often alcohol-fuelled, bravado from the contestants and pure entertainment for the observers.
For health and safety reasons, the centuries-old custom was finished but locals who’d grown up watching the cheese-rolling every Whit Monday weren’t going to let their annual risk-fest die. Quietly, it continues. They still have the traditional cheeses – proper seven pound Double Gloucesters made from the milk of Gloucestershire cattle.
As a spectator standing at the bottom of the hill, you hear the cry from the distant hill top: “One to be ready! Two to be steady! Three for the CHEEEEESE!!”
A white dot bounces wildly towards you from the sky followed by the human chasers running, stumbling, somersaulting, tumbling to cheers and applause. The first reckless man or woman down is photographed, muddy and triumphant, hugging their cheese. A few go straight to casualty nursing dislocations or fractures.
Reigning champion Chris Anderson didn’t realise he was concussed until he went to work the next day and “put the kettle in the fridge.”
He’s featured talking about it in this short vid.
Despite the risks the cheese-rolling races will never be short of contestants.
Forget the Olympics, in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, the ultimate kudos comes from holding a cheese aloft and being declared Cheese Rolling Champion.