After an extremely busy 2012, Fierce Valley Roller Girls are kicking off the New Year with a Fresh Meat intake!
Their taster session will take place on the afternoon of Sunday 10th February in Falkirk*. You will be buddied up with an experienced skater to go through the basics of skating (and stopping!) safely. You will also borrow their safety equipment and skates in this session – but please buy your own mouth guard (you can pick these up for under £5 from Sports Direct). There will be a couple of weeks rest after the taster, and then from Sunday 24th February you will start your dedicated 12-week training programme.
If you are interested in joining FVRG and are over 18 years old, please complete their Online Registration Form to reserve your place in this Fresh Meat intake.
*Times and venue for the taster session will be confirmed once you have registered online
Photogrphy by Claire Brunton of Zenspirations Photography & Design
Next in line for an end of year interview are the Fierce Valley Roller Girls.Fun Ghoul looks back over the last twelve months and forward to the new year.
Fierce Valley Roller Girls have had a pretty busy year,with bouts against Dundee,Belfast and Wirral,plus your first intraleague bout,what are the team's highlights of the last twelve months?
It's so hard to pick out highlights when the year has been so amazing! For the Parma Violents it has to be the team development, going from playing very basic roller derby, to developing strategically, being able to assess and react to what's happening on track, working more coherently as a unit and being able to implement whilst bouting what we practice at training. And, of course, our first win!
For the league it has to be our continuous growth; hosting successful Fresh Meat intakes, fundraising events and raising our profile within the local community. We now have four training sessions per week, targeting four different levels of training, which, even just a year ago, would have been crazy to comprehend.
The personal highlight for me is taking girls who are strapping on skates for the first time in years (or ever in some cases!) and seeing their journey from Bambi-on-ice to roller derby player. Watching our girls skate at both DRG's hosted Cherry Poppers bout and the Jakey Bite hosted Sur5al Tournament made me feel like a proud parent! It's been a massive learning curve to learn how to play roller derby and coach it at the same time, but seeing it all fall into place makes all the time and effort worthwhile. Every success of a league-mate is a success for the league, and it makes me so proud to be a part of FVRG!
Oh, and meeting soooooo many amazing people within the derby community!
Picking out two of the years' games,the first public bout for Fierce Valley was back in February against Dundee Roller Girls.Despite a shaky start,Fierce Valley visibly grew in confidence as the game progressed.As captain for that bout,how did you manage the team's nerves through their first game?
Hiding my own nerves was the first part! I don't think I shared with anyone how nervous I was as I wanted to be the essence of calm, control and focus for the team.
I knew that being our first open public bout and our first away bout there would be a lot of nerves, so I just tried my best to pull everyone together, so that no one was alone in their worries. We all travelled through together, which gave us time for a good team pow-wow beforehand, where the team could voice any concerns they had and support each other.
Despite the score of the game, everyone was in really high spirits by half-time, so it didn't take much motivation to get everyone back on track! I think once the initial fear was overcome, and we realised that we could play this game and that we did know what we were doing, everything fell into place a bit better. Which was all helped too by the DRG girls being so wonderful and inviting, and showing us a brilliant time (on and off track), whilst still giving us the serious pummeling we needed to up our game in the long run!
The last Fierce Valley bout of the year against Wirral Whipiteres was held at home at The Peak in Stirling and resulted in a convincing win for the home team.Everyone wants to win their first home game,but what was it like to actually achieve that and will there be a return match next year?
A dream come true!
Going into it it was hard to say what the outcome was going to be. Being a newer team, like ourselves, there wasn't a lot of information around about what the Whipiteres were like and how they played, so we just went into as best prepared as we could and played for the win.
I plan the Advanced/Team training, so it was the best possible validation that what we'd been doing at training was working. The best comments to come after the bout were about how we'd really played well together as a team, which we've struggled with in the past, and that, for me, was a better outcome than winning, as that team cohesion is really what we've been working for.
As for a return match...it's in the pipeline. I don't know how much I'm allowed to say about these things so to be on the safe side I'll play it coy!
Fierce Valley have done a lot of fundraiser and charity events over the last twelve months,how important are these non sporting events to the league and to Roller Derby as a community?
The fundraising events are integral to the running of a successful league. None of what we do is cheap and I don't envy our Treasurer keeping things in the "black" for us! The fundraising supports what we do in derby, makes bouting possible, means we have t-shirts to sell at bouts, and ensures that our skaters, officials and support crew who travel to bouts aren't having to do so solely out of their own pocket. If people didn't support the derby run events then there'd be a lot of sad, very poor skaters out there.
Making them "events" as well is really important to us. If people want to support the league, they should still get something out of it, be it a cake, the chance to win a raffle prize, or a fun night out. And they get the league name out into the community and spread the word of roller derby! They're also really fun to attend, and often an opportunity for skaters to socialised outside of the parameters of skating, which is always nice.
Looking ahead,the change to no minors is coming up in January,are Fierce Valley looking forward to playing under the new rules and do you think that WFTDA have succeeded with their vision of a streamlined game?
I'm sure the WFTDA aren't quite at the fully finalised stage with things yet, so we'll see how it all pans out soon enough.
With regards to game play, I think it'll make things easier to understand for those new to roller derby, skaters or spectators. I'm not going to miss explaining "taking a knee" to my mum! From a non-derby spectators perspective, the no minor penalties probably won't have much impact on how the game is watched, skaters still get sent off...my mum still won't know why most of the time!
For us, it will take a bit of time to get used to things. I know that the WFTDA leagues get to Beta test the new rules sets, but for the wee-er ones like us, we've just gotten them, so it's going to be a rush to get to grips with things and not be racking up those majors in our first bout of 2013. I'm confident that once we get over the initial niggles of it though, it will all fall into place, and we hopefully won't have too many foul-outs until then!
Lastly, are you able to drop any hints about Fierce Valley's plans for 2013?
I don't know what I'm allowed to say yet!
Well we have our first bout of 2013 at home on the 16th February at The Peak in Stirling (get it in the diaries!!) against Preston Roller Girls so watch this space for further details and online ticket sales ...here's the Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/114944845342095/ Our first away bout of the year is on the 30th March against Newcastle Roller Girls Whippin Hinnies. Needless to say we are very, very excited about both bouts!
Further on in the year we have some other very exciting bouts in the pipeline, along with our usual smattering of fundraising events, Fresh Meat intakes, and growing the league into being even bigger and better than before!
While the bigger leagues have had their 2012 filled with bouting, the rapid growth of derby in Scotland means that there are many other leagues who have been spending the past year growing and moving towards bout readiness. With Inverness' Nasty Nessies covered in a special edition of their Monthly Diary to come, we thought that New Town Roller Girls, Deadly Divas Roller Derby, Shetland Roller Derby and Lothian Derby Dolls all deserved the time to tell us how they'd been doing over the past 12 months.
New Town, based in Livingston, and the Derby Dolls, based in Edinburgh and the Lothians, are near contemporaries, and both have been growing and developing over the past year. Both leagues have spent the past year growing and developing their skills towards passing mins.
In particular, after a slow start to the year, everything started coming together for New Town Roller Girls in the last 6 months, their numbers swelling to 18 by the end of this year, with 4 skaters, and referee The Real Scrim Shady, already mins-passed. The league's founder, Hazzard, was keen to credit "Reff Goldblum of FVRG," as "the man that helped us pass our mins and has been a great help to us!", with others being equally positive about the recent attendance by Auld Reekie's Circuit Breaker, and the many other skaters from other leagues who have visited them.
The ladies in black and electric blue also held their first fundraiser in November, the event also serving as the official unveiling of their newly printed boutfits. If Hazzard was upbeat about roller derby and their place in the community, "I thought [derby] was amazing from when I first found out about it and all that's really changed is that I've come to know the sport better and love the camaraderie of the community and the sheer fun of being involved!", The Real Scrim Shady was even more positive, stating "First time I went along, it was a bunch of people who didn't even know each other's names, nervously skating round the hall following the instructions of Hazzard and Reff Goldblum. It was fun for sure, but since then everyone knows each other, people push each other to do better and give pointers where needed, there's a noticeable anticipation in the run-up to each session. People look forward to it and, as far as I can see, great progress has been made. It feels like a team now instead of just a bunch of friendly strangers."
New Town are very much looking forward to having enough team members mins-passed to bout, although the team is divided on who their first opponents should be, with skater Bump-Her Stick-Her feeling that "Fierce Valley seem to be our closest 'buddies' but bouting against them would be terrifying as they are amazing", with Hazzard taking the more conservative choice of close buddies "Deadly Divas Roller Derby could well be our first bout partners but you do never know..."
The Lothian Derby Dolls have advanced slightly faster than their peers in attaining a full roster of mins-passed skaters, aided by their acquiring of experienced derby coach Cain Unstable. Duke Box, speaking to us for the league, mentioned both Cain, and offered "thanks to Lead Jammer Magazine, Inkabilly and Into The Nitemare [derby store]" for their donations and sponsorship. The league also held a successful Halloween themed roller-disco, which had good attendance and promotion.
Duke Box was also clear that the Derby Dolls, while branding themselves "a team for the Lothians" with "skaters from all across the Lothian area; Mid, West, East and Edinburgh" have been getting on well with the well-established Auld Reekie in the capital itself. "Having ARRG in Edinburgh has allowed us opportunities both to watch them play and support them" she said, adding that the Derby Dolls "have also had some of our skaters join them in scrimmaging this year and hope to have the chance to more in the future, as we wish for all leagues close to us."
While the Derby Dolls are now capable of fielding a full roster of skaters, they are cagey about their first bout; an initially prematurely announced inaugural fixture has since been delayed or rescheduled. Whenever their initial bout is held, LDD will be attending the Into The Nitemare store-sponsored 'Battle of Britain' tournament in November. As one of the two unseeded competitors, it will be interesting to see how they fare, and a good learning experience for them in the process (even experienced teams like Glasgow Roller Derby and Auld Reekie find extended tournaments to be an exhausting endeavour).
The Deadly Divas and Shetland Roller Derby, meanwhile, have both only been recruiting since partway through the year, Shetland having been actively growing since July, and the Divas since September! At this early stage in their existence, a lot of the focus has been on gaining numbers and experience. Shetland's Shock Blocker put a lot of effort into outreach via local press and radio appearances, also providing taster sessions for those unsure to experience the meaning of derby. The Divas leveraged some less conventional internet media, including Gumtree and eBay, but also the Glasgow press. In the end, word-of-mouth, both online via their Facebook and Web pages, and offline via the inability of new roller girls to speak about anything else, may have been their most significant factors, taking them, in the words of founder AJ La Kaos, from "only 3 of us then 2 left; As it stands now in less than 3 months we have around 20 members which is phenomenal!"
Both have also been welcomed by the derby community, the Divas getting regular support from Glasgow's men's derby team Mean City Roller Derby, as well as the Pan-Scotland Jakey Bites, and turning up to New Town Roller Girls' open practices on Sunday afternoons; Shetland via their closest neighbours Nasty Nessies, who made a flying visit, following on from a visit from the Forth Valley's Bairn City Rollers earlier in the year. For the Divas, AJ La Kaos noted that "Being the second league in Glasgow has brought up a few complications especially with recruiting and sourcing a venue. We try very hard not to step on GRD's toes in both respects with branding ourselves as a south side team", while the advantage of being in the middle of things allows them to "go to as many bouts as possible, its a great way to see the sport in its full glory. It also keeps us motivated seeing what we're all working towards." The Divas have the advantage of ex-GRD skater Viper as their coach, who also serves as their "biggest inspiration in the derby world" according to La Kaos.
Being the most remote roller derby league in the UK causes the opposite problem for Shetland Roller Derby, preventing easy access to live derby hosted on the mainland, and to physical skate stores. Shock Blocker said that the team "owes a special place in our hearts to Marshall Lawless (of 5th Blocker Skates [and Glasgow Roller Derby]) for answering all of our questions, and managing to get stuff up to Shetland at a reasonable price". The remoteness of Shetland also has another effect on the league, in terms of its makeup. While all roller derby leagues have a mix of ages present, Shetland's overall deficit of University-age individuals is reflected in the more mature demographic of the league, as well. This has not limited their advancement, Shock Blocker commenting that "Our skaters have really grown as a team, and we've been supporting each other learning together. It's been amazing to watch people that have never skated get better and better, and we've all certainly learned a lot."
2012 has been a year of great expansion for Scottish Roller Derby, with the four teams above, and Inverness' Nasty Nessies, all making strides towards doubling the number of bouting leagues in the country. By the end of 2013, the community will only be enriched further as each league passes their mins and becomes bout-ready. We asked each of the league representatives what their aims for 2013 were, and they kindly responded with many words. Rather than take them out of context, we present them here unedited.
Deadly Divas Roller Derby (AJ La Kaos): 2013 will hopefully be a huge year for us as a team, we're working hard towards getting everyone mins passed and having our first proper bout! For me personally, I'm looking forward to that first day on track watching my new family kick some ass: win or lose it won't matter as we're all there for each other and that's all that really matters.
Shetland Roller Derby (Shock Blocker): 2013 will be our year of getting our team mins passed, trying to attract more skaters, and educating the public a bit more about the sport. We are delighted to receive any skaters who'd like to come up to Shetland, and show them around. If we can gather enough funding, maybe plan a trip to the mainland.
Personally, I'd like to improve my skating skills, my understanding of the rules, and hopefully see more bouts in person.
In the meantime, we at Shetland Roller Derby would like to wish all the Scottish teams a big thank you, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! xx
New Town Roller Derby: (Hazzard) In the next year we hope to have enough skaters mins passed and experienced to start having some closed door bouts atleast! Then on to the big scary world of open bouts and trying to find somewhere to hold them at home too!
(The Real Scrim Shady)
There's still much work to be done, but over the next wee while I'm interested in helping NTRG improve their skating and developing the fitness levels necessary for a bout. I've been skating for years and I like helping other people avoid some mistakes that I made in the process of learning to be comfortable on skates. I want to see all NTRG members be comfortable enough on skates that they can be thinking about the bout rather than worrying about staying on their feet.
I've seen progress in the short time I've been involved, for example 4 skaters passing mins. But I'd like to see training become a bit more intense. Circuit Breaker is coming back to help us with exactly that and I'll try to help Hazzard maintain the level of training and push it harder when the time’s right.
As for what I see for myself within the next year, I'm learning about the game pretty quickly right now and I'm looking to get a set of quads (I’m a fruitbooter btw). I aim to gain enough knowledge and understanding of bouts to move on from the role I've already had as NSO. The eventual goal is to become a ref but I don't know just now how long I can expect that to take.
Lothian Derby Dolls (Duke Box): Well 2013 so far does have us taking part in The Battle of Britain; a tournament that is being organised by Into The Nitemare. We also have a couple of things that are being organised bouting wise and will be announced next year when finalised and confirmed. Just a lot more hard work in training and some fun events in store for us also. It is definitely the year the Dolls will make a great one for all our skaters and those who supports us. So a big thanks to all who have got us to the end of 2012 it has been a great start.
(Thanks to: Lothian Derby Dolls' Duke Box; New Town Roller Girls' Hazzard, Millie Manslaughter, Bump-her Stick-her and The Real Scrim Shady; Shetland Roller Derby's Shock Blocker; and Deadly Divas Roller Derby's AJ La Kaos for their contributions to this report.)
As part of the blog's End of Year interview series, we caught up with Fair City Rollers' Pistol Panties to talk about roller derby in Perth, and the future.
Despite complications in the latter half of the year, Fair City managed 4 bouts in the past year, including a strong showing against the Furness Firecrackers in September. What's the high point of the year from a bouting perspective?
I think we showed over the past year how a team can improve with hard graft. We think that's reflected in our scores, especially against Furness, we all really enjoyed the bout and even though it wasn't a win, we were still very proud of what we achieved. We are very grateful for the help we had from guest coaches from the other Scottish Leagues and most notably from Alma Geddon of ARRG, who has been a constant source of support for us, both from a training perspective and with the league as a whole. We wouldn't have improved as much as we have without the support we have had from Alma, and Scotland's leagues in general.
What's the best moment of the year from Fair City's perspective?
Its hard to pick a specific moment... for me it was drawing a small lead in our bout against Wakey Wheeled Cats in June. That Cats are such a great bunch of girls so it was great to host our re-match, and we had a feeling it might be a close bout, because we thought we had improved as a team, and we felt sure they would have too. I think it was during the second half when we pulled ahead by only a few points there was a flash of "We could actually win this", and I think that was enough to push us to work harder and come back fighting. Even though we didn't win the game, it was definitely a high point for the whole team.
Bell's Sports Centre is a fantastic venue, and you've been kind enough to donate it to Granite City for their home bouts this year. Do you think it helps a league to have a really solid venue for bout hosting, and how difficult was it getting Bell's?
We've had a lot of support from Granite City in the past, so that decision wasn't a hard one, but yes it helps to have a really good relationship with your venue, which we have with Bells. They're always accommodating towards us, when sometimes it can be difficult to find that with a fairly new sport, I'm sure most leagues have experience of that.
You gained a new sponsor in IntoTheNitemare this year as well. What's your relationship with Raven, and how do you feel about the sponsorship and money-raising side of derby? (How is hire a Fear Maiden going?)
I know there is a split at the moment between those who see sponsorship in Derby is crucial, and those who see it as moving towards the more commercial side of the sport. When the relationship is mutually beneficial, and everyone is in agreement we see it as a positive thing for the league. That's what we have with Raven, and supporting the derby family is our priority. We think that its important to keep things fresh and capture peoples imagination, which is where the Hire a Fear Maiden came into existence.....its going really well, were hoping to have more success with it next year.
The big shock for all of Scottish Roller Derby was Fair City's announcement that they were going rec-only for a while. While it's still sensitive, would you like to tell us a little about the difficult decision that this involved?
It really wasn't a choice, it is a necessity at the moment. It has been a blow for us to lose so many skaters this year but we feel really positive about what's happening and where we go from here. At the end of the day there were people who weren't getting what they wanted from the league, or there was another league closer to where they actually live. People should always pursue what is best for them at that time, rather than stay with the league that doesn't suit their needs. There have been some really positive developments for us recently, and were hoping that the new year will bring more of the same!
The promise of a future revival is implicit in the announcement on the Fair City facebook page. What do you have planned for 2013? (This isn't the first time a roller derby league has reinvented itself and come back stronger.)
We are still a Roller Derby League first a foremost, but we are taking time out to focus on recruitment. As a team FCR are full of people who are really pro-active and positive about the future, and who really want the league to succeed, and that's what's most important to us. Right now were concentrating on listening to our members and giving them what they want from the league. The recreational element facilitates this because it allows us to draw in a bigger audience and get people interested in skating, and we can think about forming a team when we have a solid foundation to build that on. So watch this space!
The home team are setting themselves a challenge to make this event even bigger and better than their last visit to The Peak. Even though their previous bout clashed with pretty much every other Scottish Roller Derby team, Fierce Valley packed out the main hall in the sports centre and attracted lots of attention from the gym-goers and staff alike.
Doors open at 2pm, for a 2:30pm start. Tickets cost £5 in advance online via Brown Paper Tickets, or £7 on the door. Under 14s are welcome to attend for free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Full details of the event can be found on the Facebook Event
Photography by Dave McAleavy
Latest in a series of end of year interviews,this time its the turn of Dundee Roller Girl's Milky to reflect on the last twelve months and look forward to 2013.
Dundee Roller Girls had an excellent season overall,turning in some strong wins, and only losing once to Glasgow Roller Derby's Maiden Grrders,what have been the highlights of the year for DRG?
We’ve had an amazing year and I think for me, there were two big highlights. Winning our first away bout outside of Scotland against Manchester Roller Derby was incredible. They were the first team we played as Dundee Roller Girls and the first team I captained against. We lost that first time, so securing the win against them on the return bout really showed us how far we’d come in a year and I could not have been more proud as captain. I cried loads. Quite embarrassing. The other highlight would have to be our win against ARRG’s Cannon Belles. Because...y’know...it’s ARRG! We couldn’t have asked for a better atmosphere on the day, they’re an amazing team.
2012 has been in stark contrast to the previous year,where DRG had a single win,how have the team managed to turn that around so spectacularly in such a short space of time?
2011 was a massive year for us, with the dissolve of Dundee Destroyers and the birth of Dundee Roller Girls, we had to entirely re-brand, re-structure, everything. This year, we’ve really hit our stride in terms of organisation, team-cohesion and training. We really focussed on going back to basics and developing as strong a team and as close a team as possible. For me, I think the biggest boost was the introduction of the six-month captaincy. Previously, we’d swapped captains between bouts, but this led to training being a bit disjointed. The long-term captaincy has given us such smooth training, giving captains time to work on the aspects they feel the team needs work, and giving the team time to really grasp new tactics. We’ve also had a lot of new skaters join our bouting team. Their enthusiasm, skill and knowledge brought such an awesome motivation to the team, it’s really boosted us to develop together. I also couldn’t answer this without mentioning a vital addition to the Silvery Tayzers this year – our bench manager Mark McCarthy. I’ve never met anyone who can motivate a team the way he can. We’ve never lost a bout with him on the bench!
Picking up on a couple of the highlight bouts,DRG made a little bit of Scottish Derby history when you hosted the country's first Co-Ed bout this year.Is Co-Ed something we will be seeing again in Dundee and,more generally,how do you see the future of Co-Ed and Mens Derby in Scotland?
That bout was amazing fun! We’re thinking of making it an annual thing. I think co-ed and men’s roller derby will always be welcome and supported in DRG. We’re really close to the Jakey Bites in particular and they’ve shown us a lot of support over the past year. DRG run co-ed scrims monthly and they really do change the way you skate and the way you think about the game – there’s so many male skaters in Scotland I admire and look to in terms of skating style. I think there’s a huge amount to learn from the different style they bring to derby. The co-ed Su5al tournament run by the Jakey Bites this month was easily one of my favourite roller derby experiences to date so I hope 2013 brings more co-ed! Men’s derby seems to be really taking off in Scotland with local leagues doing fantastic work in such a short space of time. I’m hoping to get to officiate a little more men’s derby – I’ve got a few opportunities already lined up which I’m looking forward to. I’m a big supporter and I’m excited to see how these new teams develop.
The penultimate bout of the season against ARRG's Cannon Belles was something of a nail biter and surely a contender for bout of the year,resulting in a narrow win for DRG.Given that the last time the two teams met ,the result was a blow out victory for ARRG.How did the team approach the bout,did you go in playing for the win or for damage limitation?
DRG always aim to go into bouts positive. The bout with the Cannon Belles was a strange one – we’d had such a good year up to that point and felt so confident in our team that we really did go in playing for the win, but that felt a bit foreign considering ARRG’s reputation and the incredible calibre of their skaters. We’re very much a second-half team, as was definitely the case on the day! It takes us a little while to really get into the game, but when we do, I think the closeness of our team really comes through and we work together amazingly. Our captains for that bout (Viva La Derby and Spex Offender) are incredible skaters and incredible leaders. They’ve both got so much knowledge and such a good understanding of the game, they couldn’t have prepared us better for that bout. From my point of view, that was the best DRG have ever skated. I think we were all a bit stunned at the end...that was the most nerve-wracking last jam I’ve ever jammed!
On a more personal note,you are one of very few people who skate competitively and also referee in Scotland at the moment,additionally,you are also Chairperson at Dundee Roller Girls.How do you balance skating,reffing and your commitments to the league?
I sort of fell in to officiating when DRG started running our weekly open scrimmages. We often didn’t have enough refs so skaters needed to step in. I realised pretty quickly it was something I wanted to pursue, but wasn’t really sure how to balance it with bouting and training with DRG. I was lucky to have a huge amount of support from our head ref Righteous Oxide when I started really working towards it, and some amazing feedback and wisdom from Cherry Fury set me on the right path! Granite City Roller Girls were awesome and gave me my first opportunity to jam ref their away game in Leicester with the Dolly Rockit Rollers (cheers guys!). The most important part for me of balancing bouting and officiating was to make sure I kept the two entirely separate. I don’t and never will ref for DRG and the only time I take out of training is to ref our scrimmages. Doing that has made it really easy to balance bouting and officiating and to be taken seriously as an official. I think it’s important to draw a line between the two. I can see that as bout schedules get busier, I’ll probably have to make a decision between which it is I’m going to do full-time, but right now, I’m happy doing both. In terms of league commitments, DRG are such a supportive league and we’ve really settled into our organisational structure this year, it’s been a total pleasure to be a part of that. We’re a close-knit team, and I think a lot of our success this year has come down to our amazing committees keeping us running, and our main chairperson Cat. Without her I’d be lost most of the time!
Looking ahead to next year,the new rule set comes into effect in January.What do you think of the changes from a referee's perspective?
I’m super excited. I think the new rules set is going to un-complicate the game significantly and make it more accessible to spectators. From an officiating view, I spend most of my time jam reffing, so the removal of minor penalties will be fantastic and make our job a wee bit easier! I’m hoping to pick up more pack reffing experienced this year, and I think the new rules set will make the transition more achievable. I’m looking forward to a more straightforward game and can’t wait to ref under the new set.
Lastly,can you tell us anything about DRG's plans for 2013?
DRG are looking to build upon our success this year. We’ve got an exceptionally busy year planned and have bouts booked with some big names and our first over the water away game in Belfast! We’ve also just had an amazing group of skaters move up the ranks to mins-passed and I can’t wait to see them join the Tayzers and bout with us. Their talent is a bit frightening really, but good motivation to keep improving! 2013 is going to be a huge challenge for us and I’m really excited to think about what we’ll have achieved by this time next year.
Continuing the blog's series of reviews of the year from Scotland's many Roller Derby leagues, we asked Glasgow Roller Derby's officially voted Best Veteran Blocker, and Irn Bruisers co-captain, Chemikill Hazard, about their past 12 months, and their plans for the future.
It's been a busy year for Glasgow Roller Derby, starting with Tattoo Freeze, and incorporating the rebrand from Glasgow Roller Girls, a lot of European Derby bouts, a showing of "Derby, Baby", hosting Scotland's first international Derby tournament, a Home Teams season, and of course, competing at Europe's first WFTDA certified tournament, Track Queens. Before we talk about the year individually, what's been your favourite moment out of all of this?
This whole year has been amazing, so just picking one favourite moment is really hard, I think if we had managed to do a 5 tiered pyramid at our awards night that could have been it but, alas, that didn’t quite work so I guess it would probably be the Chaos On The Clyde tournament. There was a lot of stress and preparation leading up to this (and during it) from everyone in the league but we pulled it off, and we won.
Obviously, it's been a very good year for you personally, Captaining GRD in international tournaments, winning MVP Blocker at Track Queens, and MVP and Best Blocker from your fellow skaters at GRD, and appearing in "Derby Baby!".
Yeah, for me 2012 has been an amazing year: I felt really lucky to have had all the opportunities that I have (embarrassing as they may have been; seeing yourself on screen infront of a packed room of people) and still a bit in shock at winning MVP for Track Queens. I think this could well be one of those years that I reminisce about to my grandchildren, so many good things have happened.
The Irn Bruisers have had a very busy schedule this year, beginning with Tattoo Freeze down in Telford in January, where you played Central City for the first time this year, nearly beating them (97-77), in a close single-period bout. Capping off the year, the Bruisers played CCR again in your final bout in Track Queens in Berlin, winning rather more handily (149:208). Is this a testament to GRD's improvement over the year, or merely to the fact that the Bruisers have always been a strong second-period team?
I think the Bruisers have definitely improved a lot this year in terms of tactics, strategy team cohesion and skating ability but , yes, the Bruisers still appear to be a second half team, though we are working on the first half, so you never know what could have happened in January if we had had that extra 30 minutes.
Of the other teams you played more than once this year, Stockholm, Crime City and Gent, all noticeably improved by the second time you faced them (all at Track Queens). Since GRD had had a really good year up to this point (you're still, by some rankings, the 2nd ranked league in the UK), how do you think this reflects on the improvement in European Derby in the past year?
When you talk to the girls from those leagues you can see their fire, they are hungry for Derby and they are putting their all into it. It is amazing to have seen games like Berlin v Gent and how far they have come. I think 2013 will be a very exciting year for European Derby and hopefully with more teams pushing themselves and the gap between teams tightening we can only make each other better. The Maiden Grrders have also had a good year, winning all but two of their bouts, and positioning themselves as potentially the third best team in Scotland with wins over Dundee and Granite City. Would you like to see the Maidens play more European Derby next year?
Hopefully the Maidens will get more chances to play some European Derby next year, the limiting factor is mainly the cost required for a team to bring both their A and B team across. Saying that though there are some amazing teams in the UK: teams who were under the radar a year ago are now giving established teams a run for their money so there should be plenty of challengers at home as well
Of course, GRD also hosted their own tournament this summer: the first ever European Roller Derby tournament held in Scotland. How was the experience of co-captaining the team to victory in this kind of event?
Generally I tend to block out bad memories and only concentrate on the good ones so Chaos was amazing… but it was hard at times too: deciding who to put on rosters and having to tell people they can’t play a game: it is not one of my strong points as a Captain. The team were amazing though and they made things easy for us: we played as team and enjoyed being a team and I’m really proud of them all.
The rest of the league was also so supportive of this event, lots of people put in hours and hours of work behind the scenes to make it so successful. We also had financial help from our sponsors to help pull this event off and Glasgow Sports Council who provided us with funding
As for Chaos 2: well the Kelvinhall are shutting down next year for renovation so we will be losing it as both our bouting and training space. Ideally we would have liked to have had all travel team games there and Home Teams in the Arc but it looks like that is off the cards now. Hopefully we will be able to secure another location but if anyone wants to offer us a warehouse, sports hall, any building large enough for a Derby track then don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Track Queens, of course, has to be mentioned, as the first WFTDA Sanctioned Derby tournament in Europe. This is now, including your time with All Ireland Roller Derby for the World Cup last year, your 4th big semi-endurance style tournament in the past 12 months. What’ve you learned about conditioning and mental endurance for this kind of event, that you didn’t know before the World Cup?
When I played in the World Cup I was still at the point in my Derby career where I would be so nervous that I couldn’t eat for at least a day before a game, given that the world cup was over 4 days this kind of sucked and I pretty much starved myself. Luckily now I don’t get as nervous so I’m all about eating the right food at the right time, making sure I have enough energy to last the tournament. As for physically in the lead up to the tournament I was trying my best to improve my cardio as it is one of my weakest areas. Mentally it is very draining: I think this is one thing we need to work on more as a team and individually, it is really hard to go straight into another game from a loss and still remain focused and positive.
There's also been a lot of local outreach from Glasgow Roller Derby this year, as always, with gig nights, the Johnny 7, Blingo!, a showing of Derby Baby!, and the opening of the National Museum of Roller Derby's first exhibition. How important do you think this kind of non-sport involvement is to Roller Derby as a community?
I think it’s a great thing in Roller Derby to see teams all over the world give back to the community. Every year GRD chooses a charity where we donate the money from the raffles at our bouts and I think it’s great that we can be involved and help out in some way
We also love to hear back from our fans and have them involved in our Roller Derby community on how we can improve things; this year we had some issues with our ticketing system and we are working on a way to make it better and easier for the fans.
For our fundraisers I think it is really good to have a range of events outside the sport where the team can bond, hang out and meet other people, be it refs, fans, NSO’s skaters from other leagues. Derby is still a very tight knit community and great things can come from networking and great friends can be made. Aside from that, it is good to give GRD publicity and for fundraising as 2012 has been an expensive year and 2013 is shaping up to be the same.
Glasgow Roller Derby became a full WFTDA member league early this year. Has this changed how you feel about your status as a skater, or the emphasis the team places on picking opponents? How long before GRD rank in the realm of teams who can compete at regionals?
It has changed the types of opponents we look at, if we want to become ranked in the WFTDA rankings then we need to make sure we play enough sanctioned bouts and so other WFTDA teams certainly have that appeal. I would love to see us at regionals but as seen at Track Queens there will be a lot of tough competition in Europe for the spots. Hopefully we will remain up there among them.
Finally, as is now traditional in the past month: are you looking forward to bouting under the new WFTDA rules next season?
Oh yes, we’ve scrimmaged under it a few times and so far it’s been really good. I’m really looking forward to the new tactics and game play that will be introduced, so I can sit down and work out some counter strategies and counter counter strategies.
With such an exciting past year, can you hint at what GRD has in store for 2013?
Our main focus this year will be on a couple of big tournaments so watch this space for more details
Photography by Dave McAleavy.
Track Queens looked fantastic from the footage,how was it to actually be a part of?
An unforgettable weekend - BCRD did Europe proud in organising it, and it was great to see WFTDA representation there to support us too. What great Roller Derby from all of the teams who took part - some real nail-biting action in every single bout. It was as fun as it looked. More so because of all of the hilarious extra's; the pony invasion, the Helsinki/ARRG ninja v pony fight at half time in the final - that was a grudge match that needed to be fought. In Helsinki this year, my new jumper got ripped off my back and the team needed some retribution, you know? I think we got it. I think they got the message. We're watching you Turtles.
The first bout against Central City Roller Girls was quite literally heart stopping to watch and really could have went either way.Did you ever doubt ARRG could win one of the hardest fought opening bouts of the tournament?
I never doubted for a minute that we had the ability to win it, but I also thought it would be close fought and really could turn out either way. CCR came into the tournament having had some great wins. I always thought we were strong enough, we just needed to really keep the focus and pull it together. Playing against teams so well matched in skill level means no time for any sort of mental lapse. I'm so proud of the team for keeping it zipped up to the end - there were a few shaky moments, but we didn't freak out! We've been really focussing on the mental angle, we do have a small team of excitable exploding ponies and it is important that everyone on our team is in the game mentally and playing the long game not panicking about every point change or bad jam, we sometimes get too excited or distracted. We've added in some pre bout and mid bout 'activities' to assist with keeping it together which I think is starting to work for us.
The LRG bout was interesting,as right from the outset it was obvious that it was not going to be a repeat of your previous encounter with them.Do you feel that the closer result this time around shows how far the team has progressed?
Well we wanted to demonstrate that we used the huge beasting last time to improve, which we definitely have I think. Our team has matured and grown really close over the course of this year after some upheaval, so yes I really hope it showed! We took some key lessons from the last game with Brawling and applied them to our training over the past 6 months - strength and stamina was one area; we've practically taken over TEBA (The Edinburgh Boxing Academy) lately, their Ultimate Fitness classes for boxing are absolutely mental and amazing. We also switched up our jammer rotation a bit and worked on tighter, faster pack reactions - and just trying to keep it on a level and together - last time we played Brawling they probably had a different game plan too though. It's also amazing how they manage to keep playing at such a high standard even with some roster changes, we do aspire to that. We wish we could play them once a month. Hopefully we can take a trip down to do some friendly training with them soon.
The Stockholm bout was if anything, more exciting to watch than the first and easily one of the best bouts of the whole tournament,are you disappointed not to have taken the third place after such a close, hard-fought game?
It's weird, of course we really wanted a medal, but I don't think the team felt deflated about not getting 3rd place - probably because we felt we played a really good game and had a good tournament with us moving up a place to 4th overall. Stockholm have some fantastic skaters, they are really tough and strong, which always makes for a fun bout - I do find it frustrating to watch the footage when we lost the lead …but again, so much learning opportunity there! It was a close result at the end, and it's given us confidence that we're playing at a good level just now and we are all raring to go after the Xmas break and get focussed with pushing ourselves up to the next level. We have a list of things to work on again ready for the next batch of Thistles games.
Taking a broader,European view for a moment,the Track Queens tournament has shown that most of the competing teams are grouped very closely together in terms of ability and skill,how do see European Derby progressing from where it is now?
I think that the more European tournaments we have and the more teams that start travelling a bit further for bouts to get a different perspective on the way the game is being played elsewhere, the better the standard will become. There are so many more teams across Europe who also could have competed confidently at this level and probably would have surprised people too. I think the teams with the drive and commitment to keep pushing will ultimately push through and I'd love to see some massive strong European presence at the national level competitions soon. I think we're lucky to have so many good leagues in such a relatively small geographical area. It's exciting how many Euro leagues are becoming WFTDA members too just now. I also have to mention the fantastic level of officiating we saw at Track Queens too - I love seeing dedicated NSO's/refs and in Europe it's looking SO good.
Auld Reekie have had an interesting year,the first Home Season and the other big first,organising an ARRG boot camp,then some losses balanced out with very strong performances in two major tournaments,not to mention the ,'this is how we roll' signature team move.What are your Auld Reekie highlights of the past year?
I honestly would ramble on for hours on this subject because all of the things you mentioned have been huge achievements, especially the rolling around in dirt ;-) It's definitely been the year of the tournament, and a good fun filled one at that. But to keep it short - personally it's been having Cider voted in as Thistles Vice Captain - she brings her unique style to the role and it fits just perfectly with us as a team - she never fails to make me laugh even when I'm stressed or tired and I'm enjoying the Captain role even more because of this. Also she looks so good with a Moustache. Things that make me smile a lot just now are the Thistles being just the best bunch of women a person could ever meet and the whole of ARRG pulling together to make our huge league ambitions into realities, I can't actually put into words how this makes me feel, I seem to cry a lot more these days from happiness and pride in people than from anything else - ARRG has turned me into an emotional softy.
Looking forward to next year,can you tell us anything about ARRG's plans for 2013?
I cannot breathe with the excitement of it - we'll definitely be taking the Thistles to America!! More to be announced on that soon!!
So um, probablly a few fund raisers to do as well!!! We’d love to do another Boot Camp if we can find the time, because we had so much fun - maybe School of ARRG Knocks "even ARRG'er"?! We have a couple of exciting festival bouts planned for August - we may just get a re-match with Stockholm yeah! We have a whole batch of exciting new bouters showcasing their stuff at our home season kicking off on 19th January (cheap season tickets on sale now) and we have 3 whole fresh meat intakes planned, the first in February 2013 (email firstname.lastname@example.org to get your name down). For once, I can't wait to get Xmas out of the way!
Finally,the new rule set, are you looking forward to getting to grips with it and do you think WFTDA have succeeded in streamlining the sport for fans and skaters alike?
Oh yes - I really like it. I always found minors really frustrating and think they interrupted the game /slowed it down excessively in relation to the impact they had. Time will tell how it changes the game I guess, we've already seen some changes emerging, being a WFTDA member league, we had a good head start to plan for this, as we get to vote on them and see draft versions of the new rules - we've been using an hour every week over the last few months for some preparatory exploration of how the changes 'would' feel, and we've had a mock bout with GRD to try it out already and help our Scottish WFTDA affiliated officials plan for it. We also planned our home season to be the time and place where we test the rule set out fully in public before we start our travel team bouts. In terms of the slow game/fast game, the faster game is always more fun to play :-)
If you're snowed in tomorrow, at least you can read this latest diary entry from Fierce Valley's Lila de Thrash!
What first attracted you to Roller Derby? I first heard about Roller Derby through my friend and now derby wife, Bobbie Bang Bang. She and her sister Ella Bella Bang Bang had started training with ARRG and said I should come along. I went to my first session and loved it. That was in 2008 (I think :/)
Who are your derby heroes? Gosh! There are so many! All the girls I used to train with at ARRG and of course my wife Bobbie Bang Bang, who I wouldn't have found derby without.
Derby names are an important aspect of the sport, especially whenyou're starting out. How did you choose your name, and how does it reflect your personality on track? Haha My boyfriend wanted me to call myself Janey Rotten Crotch but I didn't fancy that being called out at a bout, lol( also found it was taken on twoevils). I wanted my name to sound a little like my first name so I would respond to it when shouted at and also something that would inspire fear into the hearts if my opponents, haha, and I thought Lila de Thrash fit the bill.
What was your biggest initial difficulty? Oh god! Not falling on my ass! I fell a couple of times and really hurt my tailbone. Couldn't sit on a hard surface for months! Glad to say I have learned the art of the knee fall...
Lots of roller girls find it hard not to spread the word about their new sport. How have you been spreading the word? I find word of mouth is the best way to do this. My work colleagues must be sick of me going on about skating.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt/ done this month? The most important thing I've done was play in For Whom The Skate Rolls. I've been working hard to make the bouting team since having my daughter in March. I was off on maternity leave for almost a year from skating. It was amazing to bout again, instead of just watching
What were the most difficult and the best things? I think the most difficult thing is continuing to make practice while being back at work and having a family and making time for me and my partner. Good thing my partner supports me in my obsession even if he doesn't want to participate, lol. The best thing has to be skating with my Fierceys in a bout for the first time. It was awesome and we were Fierce!
What's new for the Fierce Valley this month? It's going to be a busy month we have our Christmas Craft emporium on Saturday 8th at the Masonic Hall in Falkirk. It's the league's AGM on the 13th, think some of us are taking part in the Jakey [Bites]'s Sur5al Coed tournament and we are having our own wee roller disco on the 21st. Full of festive cheer!