While many of our Scottish leagues have held bouts in the past year, that doesn't make the newer, or relaunching, members of the Scottish Roller Derby community any less important. New leagues are an important part of the derby community, spreading skating to places that it hasn't been before. So, let's spend a little time catching up on what the non-bouting leagues have been doing in 2013.
In 2013, Scotland continued to gain new leagues at an impressive pace. Leaving aside Voodoo Roller Dollies (who will be covered in a different article), women's derby leagues sprouted up in Dumfries and Galloway, and in Ayrshire. As is traditional, both the Doonhame Derby Dolls and Ayrshire Roller Derby were founded by women who wanted to skate, but found themselves too far from the existing leagues to join one.
The Dolls have been particularly successful, as skater Claire Warner noted "Our first meet saw 50+ in attendance and that number has grown since (with over 70 paid up members now on the books)!" As with any new league, that success was supported by the wider derby community, as Claire told us "Our first night was led by Jodie from Glasgow Roller Derby (the woman who had inspired [founders] Debz and Grace) and Cat, a Windsor Rollergirl who luckily for us had just moved to the area, and who has been coaching us ever since. We have had other guest skaters joining in and sharing their skills too, Bruisedog from Mean City, and Turbolinz from GRD came for a visit, Tessington World of Adventures from Granite City Roller Girls and Hazzard from LRG have all dropped in to share their skills, knowledge and love of derby with us, the freshest of fresh meat."Doonhame have been exceptionally organised in themselves, as well. In the last four months, they've managed to set up their league branding and management structure, gain sponsorshop, and also garner a huge amount of local media attention, including a spot on ITV Borders News. They've even managed to hold two RollerDisco fundraisers, the funds from which they are planning on using to subsidise costs for skaters on low incomes. From all of that, you would not be wrong in guessing that their plans for 2014 are.. expansive. "There is sooo much more planned for this year too (we have just been away on a Dolls development planning weekend)!", Said Claire, "Not only do we plan to gain affiliation, sponsorships/funding to improve access opportunities for other local women, we aim to hold our own local bootcamp to help us work towards passing minimum skills, put on a demonstration bout and hopefully be scrimmaging by the end of the year. In addition to all this we are also looking to take part in local charity fundraisers, spreading the Derby Love and helping those in need in our local community. we will also be running roller disco's on a regular basis throughout the year and hopefully we are about to start organising our own junior derby league!!"
If the Dolls were inspired by one Glasgow Roller Derby skater, Ayrshire Roller Derby was inspired by another. As Lorna McIlvanney told us: "We wanted to start up an Ayrshire league but thought it would be difficult and never had the time to do it. Then at Rollerstop, we spotted Sylk from GRD and approached her to see if she might be able to help us set up. She said she would give advice and help with training as and when. [...] We have had massive amounts of help from Sylk, along with various Mean City skaters. We have been invited to scrim with other leagues (once we are mins passed) and have had messages of support and offers of help from many, which has been awesome."
ARD have exciting plans for 2014, as well, as Lorna explained, "We are planning on getting to as many bouts as possible and getting involved where we can e.g. as NSO's etc. Our sights are set on passing mins shortly. We have fundraising plans and recruitment drives coming up. Then, scrims for experience and hopefully we'll be ready for our very first bout. We hope to one day base ourselves in the three Ayrshire (North, East, South) and maybe have our home teams structured that way. That's further down the line obviously, but it nice to have goals."
As well as the brand-new leagues of 2013, leagues founded from 2012 and earlier still continued to develop over the past year.In Glasgow, the Deadly Divas experienced a hiatus for various personal reasons. A spiritual-successor league, Renfrewshire Rockin' Rollers, also appeared, with similar stated aims, but is also currently static. RRR Co-founder, Juggs Knock'her said "At the moment due to a lot going on in our personal lives things are on hold. We plan to have a fairly relaxed approach to skating, as well as training to WFTDA rules and Renegade. We are looking to recruit both women and men. Basically derby is about fun and we hope to keep it that way." With the Deadly Divas also hinting that they might be waking up, it remains to be seen what happens in the space of second-leagues in Glasgow.
Moving northwards, the resurgence of Perth's Fair City Rollers continued apace in the past year. League chair Pistol Panties was excited about their continued growth, "Initially, we were holding open sessions and just trying to build our numbers up, with the rec sessions, and we have achieved that. We had a big fresh meat intake in August, funded by a local charity geared towards increasing attendance at women's sports, which was a great success and we had a great response from everyone. That really was a stroke of genius, because it allowed us to invite all Scottish leagues along to an open scrimmage, which not only meant we got to see our friends, but it allowed the girls to get a real flavour of what Roller Derby is really about. We now have good numbers of regular attendees, and a team of (very nearly) mins passed skaters." The league even managed to one-up most of the rest of Scotland, organising a guest coaching session from Steel City Rollergirls' Shrinking Violet in June. "We worked on basic skills, which was really useful even for the more experienced skaters, we all wanted longer with her, so we did a bit of off-skates afterwards too!".
Fair City are now holding regular fresh meat sessions, with the last one being on the 27th of January, and regular training sessions are up to 3 hours a week. "We feel excited about this year," said Pistol, "and to be in a position to be thinking about getting back to competing in the near future. Basically, the only way is up!"
Inverness' Nasty Nessies Roller Girls underwent a few changes over 2013, not least a change of name and branding. The newly styled "Inverness City Roller Derby" will retain the "Nasty Nessies" name and logo for their travel team. While ICRD has not yet bouted, their skaters continue to make appearances in exhibition and cherry popper bouts hosted by other leagues, and travel to open scrims in the rest of Scotland. They've also been working on an interesting outreach project, as Scarlett O'Horror told us: "We've just completed a collaboration with Fixers - a group that helps promote community participation and challenge stereotypes. We made a film with them, featuring our own lovely skaters, which will be premièred in Inverness - very exciting!" 2014 looks like being the year for roller derby in Inverness, however, "We have a lot planned for this year! We will hopefully move into a new training venue this year, and have a few more mixed bouts lined up, including participating in a bout in April, which is really exciting for us. Some very lucky members are also off to Texas to watch the World Cup in December - picking up tips and training ideas, no doubt! And t-shirts. Always t-shirts."
Finally, at the northernmost point of Scotland, Shetland Roller Derby has continued to hold both derby and open skate sessions throughout the year. Men and women are welcome, and the Open skates in particular have been popular.
As you can see, it's been an eventful year with the growing leagues of Scotland, and 2014 promises to be even more interesting!
There's a lot of ways that Roller Derby has been discussed and promoted online and off, from League Websites, through blogs like us, and bigger entities like Derby News Network, the derby magazines (the UK's own Lead Jammer and Inside Line amongst them), and YouTube/Vimeo/etc videos.
Podcasts, on the other hand, are a somewhat rarer breed, much to the sadness of everyone who wants to listen to people talk about Derby on their daily commute.
The folk up in Aberdeen are well aware of this, however, and have their most talkative member, sMACklemore, (otherwise known with his announcing hat on for Granite City Roller Girls) on the case. He'll be hosting the new derby fortnightly podcast "Talk Derby To Me" starting this very month, with an array of guests from around derby, thanks to the magic of the internet.
Episode 1 is due for release around the 11th of February, and will feature:
GCRG Vice Captain (and Team Scotland Training Team member) Rock'n Riot,
GCRG Ref (and Scottish Roller Derby Blog contributor) Buffy Boiler,
Also GCRG Ref (and holder of longest name in derby) Tessington World of Adventures,
along with a "mystery guest" from a location "within the UK".
Contact with the team is currently via their Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/talkderby where they'd welcome anecdotes about your derby Fresh Meat days.
Edit: The podcast discussed in this article is now available at http://www.mixcloud.com/talkderbytome/talk-derby-to-me-episode-1/ and at https://soundcloud.com/talkderbytome/, the latter of which also allows mp3 downloads.
Just over a year ago, we caught up with BruiseDog from Mean City Roller Derby to hear all about their first year. Their 2013 was packed full of training sessions, recruiting Fresh Meat, fundraising and hosting their first bout - so it's only right that we spoke with BruiseDog again to hear all the details!
1. Within a few months of starting up, Mean City were on a fast-moving recruitment drive. The last time we spoke, you had 10 league members - can you tell us how many you have now? Tell us a bit more about the new skaters at Mean City who joined in 2013!
We have over 20 regular attendees, 12 of whom are now bout ready. The majority of skaters in our league joined us in 2013. Zero, Gord N' THorg, Trip Hazard, Bawsmalinger, Samikaze, Middenface Muir, Grizzly G Bear and Blue Grass have all done amazingly in their first year after passing their mins. We also have a whole host of new skaters that are honing their skills to get ready for a slot on the team.
2. From the beginning, Mean City were extremely committed to training, and were even hosting co-ed skating skills sessions for other leagues to attend. Has this changed in the past year now that you are bringing in beginners, as well as training more advanced skaters?
Some things have changed, like making sure that we keep the interest of everyone - no matter what level they are at. It's a challenging prospect and a double-edged sword. So instead of just catering to one level, we split our newbies into groups based on ability. Some folks come to us already able to skate better than existing members of the team but have no idea of the roller derby rules and strategy; while others come armed with this knowledge but not the skating ability.
Training is a collaborative process to get the best for an individual until they are ready to join in our main drills. There is no six month program - everyone is assessed regularly on all aspects of the sport, and as soon as they are ready we will put them through a Minimum Skills assessment.
We will no doubt run another taster session later in the year for those that want to check out the sport. Ladies and gents will both be welcome as we provide a direct gateway to our sisters at Glasgow Roller Derby.
3. All of the Scottish Men's Teams have certainly made their stamp on the roller derby community and are no longer seen as the 'newbies' trying to catch up with the women's teams. Staring a roller derby league is a big enough challenge - never mind introducing another culture at the same time! Can you tell us about the challenges you faced along the way, and how you overcame them to rise to the position you are in now?
The biggest challenge was showing we are not a threat to the existing derby community. We did this by working closely as possible with our sisters in neighbouring female leagues. We wanted to know from them what it takes to ensure we represent the sport in the best way possible - and we didn't want to reinvent the wheel - so working together proved extremely beneficial.
4. It was very exciting to see the establishment of the Men's National Team - The Power of Scotland - last year. Are many Mean City skaters on The Power of Scotland roster? What opportunities do you think a Men's National Team will bring to the sport?
As part of the initial steering committee for the World Cup squad, I am really glad to see how things are shaping up. We are very pleased to have four MCRD skaters on the Power of Scotland roster: Whyte & MacDie, Tea-Virus, Konanbourg and Zero all made the cut. I won't lie, I wish I was playing with them, but with so many great skaters to choose from the selection process could not have been an easy job. That being said, I am excited about going down to the World Cup in Birmingham to cheer the lads on.
Having a national team opens up a lot of doors with regards to conversations about sponsorship and funding for roller derby across Scotland. It also brings a great opportunity for publicity and growth of leagues at a local level as the sport gets more publicity.
5. It hasn't gone unnoticed that Mean City have forged strong links in the roller derby community. Would you mind telling us your secrets of your success?
Mean City was spawned from the derby community and we love to give back wherever we can. We had a lot of support when we started up but we had to go looking for it by knocking on doors and finding out how the community could help us. As a league we have decided to be proactive and reach out to all the existing and new leagues. So our guys have helped with everything from taking coaching sessions, to just being a point of contact to ask for more information.
We have visited new leagues in the West of Scotland, including Ayrshire Roller Derby and the Doonhame Derby Dolls - it's great to see them growing so quickly! We are happy to note that our help has been welcomed with open arms.
6. You have also made strong links in the wider community in the Glasgow area. Can you tell us more about the benefits of joining forces with companies such as RollerStop and 5th Blocker Skaters? How have these relationships helped your overall presence in Glasgow?
Tying in with a general roller skating community (outside of roller derby) has been mutually beneficial. Most of us have attended RollerStop since their first roller disco back in October 2011. Some of our best Fresh Meat was discovered at RollerStop encounters! Siobhan and the team have been very supportive - not to mention, this is where we met Whyte & MacDie and Sara, our Bench Manager.
It was a no brainer to tie in with Lawless at 5th Blocker Skates since our guys obviously need equipment and we always get a great service there - even at short notice when we need some scrim tops made for us!
Café Phoenix have been great to us too, offering us a work space for team chats and awesome Swedish meatballs. Not to mention an awesome Line-Up manager!
We are also happy to announce that we are now a Queens Of The Sin Bin endorsed team. They recently made us some awesome 'boutfits' and we could not be happier with them. All of these things have helped establish us as a wellknown name throughout the local and wider derby community.
7. What would you consider as Mean City's biggest achievement in 2013? Are their any highlights that stand out from a very busy year?
There can be no question - our biggest achievement and highlight had to be putting on our first ever bout in October: Blocking Bad. We were actually worried about how many people would turn up, but we really shouldn't have been since 150+ spectators packed into The ARC that day! We organised the bout as a double-header and invited New Town Roller Girls to play since they had never bouted before either. Mean City played against Barrow Infernos, and New Town played against The Furness Firecrackers. Although both of the Away teams were victorious, it was great to get our first bouts out of the way with two awesomely friendly and strong teams.
Also, we are delighted that we are now officially the brother league of Glasgow Roller Derby! It really makes us proud to be tied in with them and we will be working more closely in 2014.
8. What would you consider as your personal biggest achievement with Mean City in 2013?
See above! The stress of putting on our first bout almost took me to the edge, I am just glad that I managed to pull it off. Luckily I have a great team behind me both on track and off.
9. And finally, what are Mean City's plans for 2014?
Well we have just about recovered from a tough game last weekend against Bairn City Rollers' Skelpies. It's great to see how much they have grown over the past year and a bit! However, I do believe we may owe them a rematch later this year in Glasgow so I look forward to that. I can't comment on the bout calendar just now as a lot is being finalised, but we have had some queries from some international teams so I predict that Mean City may be on the road a bit. Apart from that Bout, Train - Bout, Train is the plan.
On Saturday 15th February, The Peak in Stirling will play host to Fierce Valley Roller Girls' first bout of 2014.
The Parma Violents will take on Glasgow Roller Derby's brand new team, The Cannie Gingers, who will be making their bouting debut. This is an event not to be missed!
Doors open at 2pm with the first whistle at 2.30pm. Tickets can be bought for £5 (+ booking fee) in advance from Brown Paper Tickets, or cost £7 on the door. Under 14s go free with a paying adult.
Please see FVRG's Facebook Event for full details.FVRG vs. GRD bout poster - image courtesy of FVRG
Auld Reekie Roller Girls kick off their 2014 Home Season on Saturday the 1st of February with a bout between The Cherry Bombers and last years' winners, The Leithal Weapons. All Home Season bouts take place at Meadowbank Sports Centre,Edinburgh. Doors open at 2pm and entry is £7 or £5 plus booking fee when bought online.
Future bout dates for your diary are.. 15th February - Leithal Weapons Vs Skatefast Club. 8th March - Skatefast Club Vs Cherry Bombers. 5th April - Home Season Final.
Next in our end of year reviews is Fierce Valley Roller Girls' captain, Gallus Cooper.
Fierce Valley Roller Girls have had an varied year, road trips south of the border to Wirral and Newcastle and your first international. What have been the highlights of the past year for the team?
We really did have a fantastic year last year! We spent a lot of time and effort last year getting all our skaters up to the 2013 mins standards. Both the away bouts were tremendous fun, long days with ardous bus journeys, but we had a lot of fun on the bus! The bouts themselves were great too! We have brought a number of new bouters onto the Parma Violents this year and it has been great watching these skaters grow in both skills and confidence on track. The Oslo bout was a great way to finish the year as the PV's, those girls were just awesome! And tall!
FV secured a convincing victory against Wirral in 2012, a year on and the return match was another story, with a slender 2 point victory in a hard fought bout that came down to the last jam.Were you surprised by just how hard Wirral played and will there be a rematch in 2014?
The Whipiteres were great opponents, for both bouts! They really put up a fight on our return bout! We knew from the first bout how hard they could hit, but wow, they had been training hard since then! The last jam was crazy! 2 points! So close! I don't think there is a rematch this year, but you never know!
Back in July you hosted a co-ed bout involving The Jakey Bites, how did you feel about joining the co-ed party and is it something we will see more of at Fierce Valley?
I for one really enjoyed the co-ed bout. We have quite a close relationship with a number of the Jakey Bites and it seemed like a logical step to co-host the bout. And really, who wouldn't want to be a Violent Jakey? As a league we have been involved in a few different co-ed bouts, be it the recent charity bouts or mixing things up with the local boys teams and I know that there are a few of us within the league who are keen to keep playing with the boys, the more derby the better.
Oslo Roller Derby came to visit in November, how did it feel to be selected as Oslo's Scottish debut bout in your own first international?
Playing our first international bout was always going to be a huge challenge for us, but we couldn't have had better opposition on the day. It was really exciting to see just how much derby talent is out there, and it really gives us something to aspire to.
In the last year you have hosted two intraleague bouts for the first time. Can you tell us why these are important to FVRG? The intraleagues are so important to us. They give us a chance to bring some of our newest talent to the fore. It's really exciting to see the new skaters step up and show us their skills. I don't think I'll ever forget ThumpHer's first jam during the Fightmare Before Christmas bout, when she got Lead Jammer the whole crowd went wild for the duration of the jam, it really was amazing! They give us the chance for a bit of intra-league rivalry too, going up against my PV co-captain Cammy for the second time was a lot of fun! Fierce Valley Roller Girls have recently joined the ranks of the UKRDA, what does it mean to the league to have been accepted?
Joining the UKRDA has been a goal of FVRG for a long time and it feels great to finally be in the gang! FVRG is still a relatively young league but we're growing all the time. It's nice to see everyone's hard work pay off in this way.
Lastly,can you drop any hints about FVRG's plans for 2014?
We have a lot to look forward to in 2014. We start our bout calender off with GRD's Cannie Gingers debut bout on the 15th February at The Peak, that's going to be a lot of fun to play! We are also hosting some return bouts with Dundee and Newcastle, so that's a lot to look forward to, both are formidable opposition! We have a lot of training to do this year!
With thanks to Lady Feerocious for her help in compiling this interview.
Another day, another league Review for 2013. Moving a little further North than the last few, Silvery Tayzers Captain Psychomilly was happy to talk about Dundee Roller Girls' year.
Compared to 2012, 2013 has been a slightly more mixed year for the Silvery Tayzers; a couple of losses at the start of the season against Rainy City and Glasgow's Maiden Grrders, followed by an improving streak (a narrow loss against Newcastle's Whippin' Hinnies, and an almost unbroken winning streak since). You said last year that Dundee were aiming higher for their competition in 2013; how did you work to raise your game and fight back over the year?
The team has worked really hard this year to push our skills and to keep our tactics current with the new rules set introduced. We saw more losses this year than last, but we really were playing with the big girls this year! Over the year I think we settled into our new roster and became more comfortable working together as a team. In the latter half of the year, we took our tactics back to basics and worked on developing our skills together, which definitely paid off.
There's also been several changes to the roster over 2013, starting the season with several regulars missing or moved to other locations, and then Suffra-Jet moving to Glasgow to join GRD in the middle of the year, and Cult Friction moving to Edinburgh to join ARRG (and changing her skatename!), ending with Dr Carnage's last bout You've also picked up a bunch of new (or returning) skaters, who we saw in the last few bouts of the year. How are you adapting to the changing makeup of Dundee this year? Do you think this kind of cyclic mutability is good for the team?
DRG have always had a pretty fluid roster as we're a university team - there's two universitys in Dundee, but it's a small city when it comes to finding a job, so a lot of our veteran skaters have moved for the sake of their careers. It's always hard to see someone you've trained with leave, but we're so, so proud of everyone who has moved on and become even more skilled. This season, we've had some absolutely inspirational skaters move from newbies to Tayzers almost seamlessly. Having so many new skaters get on the Tayzer's roster has meant that as a team we've worked even harder to bond on track and to support each other. BoB and our home game against FVRG were the most 'together' I felt the team all year and it's a total pleasure to skate with so many committed new skaters. I think having new skaters move up to the Tayzers is good for us as a team - they bring fresh ideas and their enthusiasm and motivation is infectious.
With all the preparation for the second ever (Women's) Roller Derby World Cup in 2014, several of Dundee's skaters have been trying out for national teams. Crazily InSanne got into Team Netherlands, and there's a few of your skaters who attended the Team Scotland first round tryouts. It's a great thing for Scottish derby to have skaters featured in potentially multiple national teams… do you see more of this and other international involvement in Dundee's future?
I'm so excited to see DRG represented at the World Cup. Sanne has gone from strength to strength this year and I think you'd struggle to find someone more committed to the sport. Her behind the scenes work to keep our team running as well as the time she spends honing her skills, fitness and knowledge is outstanding. It'd be a total dream to represent DRG as part of Team Scotland, but the competition is so, so high! I'd love to see Dundee more involved in international derby, particularly now that there's more and more leagues in Europe visiting Scotland. Hopefully this year we can experience our first international bout!
Looking outside of Dundee, there's been a continuing growth in Scottish Roller Derby over 2013, with Bairn City Rollers, Lothian Derby Dolls and New Town Roller Girls all holding their first bouts this year. Dundee played two of those league already, and donated a skater or two to New Town's cherry popping bout roster. Now that Dundee is firmly in the upper-half of Scottish teams in terms of experience, do you feel you have a responsibility to newer teams? How does the increasing breadth of derby spread interact with how you see DRG placing itself in Scotland?
The expansion of derby in Scotland this year has been amazing. We've found the newer leagues have provided a great opportunity for some of our newer skaters to get involved with scrimmages and bouts with skaters of their level. We've also seen skaters from a lot of the newer leagues in Scotland visiting us for our open scrimmages, which is a really good way of sharing learning and techniques, as well as getting to know the leagues better. In the beginning, DRG received so much training and advice from the larger leagues at the time, we realise how important it is to be supported by more experienced teams. We love to help out other leagues in any way we can!
This was the first year Dundee Roller Girls played in a tournament, signing up to IntotheNitemare's Battle of Britain at the last minute due to cancellations. Despite Newcastle pipping you to the top spot, Dundee did very well - are you planning on more tournaments after this experience? How did the tournament compare to the usual single-bout context?
We'd love to take part in more tournaments. It's a fantastic way of bonding as a team and I think we kept the momentum going throughout the day. I couldn't have been any more proud to captain DRG at the tournament. We worked together so well as a team - particularly with 6 skaters new to the Tayzers. BoB was one of my favourite experiences in derby. I think tournaments differ to single bouts in that it's over just as you get into your stride. Keeping the motivation and morale up through the day was really important to us - we had a team quiz, a poster of the roster made up of pugs and a gold-star system of goals to keep us all focused and smiling.
For much of this year, Dundee have continued their support of Co-ed Derby with the Dundee Co-ed Scrims continuing to be extremely popular for skaters across Scotland, and the Jakey Tayzers returning to play more co-ed derby on track. How's Dundee's relationship with Co-Ed developed over the year? Will the Jakey Tayzers remain a more exhibition team, or is there possibility of a more formal arrangement?
Dundee have always supported co-ed derby and will continue to do so. This year we've moved to having monthly co-ed scrimmages. Co-ed is a great way to challenge ourselves, as skating with men means we have to skate that little bit smarter!
As for the Jakey Tayzers...I think we already see ourselves as more than an exhibition team. Still unbeaten!
On a personal note, you’ve had a busy year: referreeing at as many bouts as you’ve played in, appearing on Team Steve for Scotland’s first Men v Women bout against the Jakey Bites, as well as regaining the captaincy of Dundee for the last bouts of the season (and trying out for Team Scotland(!)). How do you fit it all the derby in? Is there a temptation to choose one or other of refereeing or bouting?
I've been really lucky over the past few years, with ARRG and GRD giving me the opportunity to officiate loads of their bouts, including my first WFTDA Sanctioned bouts, which was a total honour. I also loved reffing the Men's European Roller Derby Champs. It was an incredible experience and I met loads of really inspirational officials. I'm also lucky to have such a supportive home league who've given me the opportunity to captain them again and help build the team and I've had the most fun bouting with them this year, especially at Battle of Britain.
My heart is definitely still in bouting, I love DRG, though I do often get told that I'll have to choose either skating or officiating eventually. I find that a really strange idea and one that I think only female officials seem to be pushed into - I can think of a number of male skaters who skate high level derby who also officiate, but women in the same situation seem to be expected to choose one or the other. Until my schedule means I can't manage both, I'm happy sharing my time!
Finally, can you let us in on any of Dundee Roller Girls' plans for 2014?
Hmm...well, we have a massive year planned for the team, but sadly I can't reveal too much just yet! It's safe to say we're working hard to expand and develop our wee team, so watch this space!
Continuing our review of 2013, we caught up with BCR Founder, Skelpies captain (and Power of Scotland skater) iHorror to get his thoughts about the year from Bairn City Rollers' perspective.
Bairn City Rollers have had a very busy year, managing almost one bout for every month, despite only starting in May. While it's certainly made an impression on Scottish derby, how has the pace affected the league as a whole?
The Skelpies only played 3 public bouts, so we have found it very manageable. I think the Belters found it okay as their roster grew quite rapidly during 2013, so each bout had 5/6 "cherry poppers" in their line up. Most of the girls have also just come out of their first year with an abundance of priceless experience after going head to head with some top teams like Furness Firecrackers, Rainy City and Lothian Derby Dolls.
Of course, the majority of those bouts were women's bouts, with the Central Belters taking on a rather varied selection of opponents. What was your favourite bout that the Belters played? Are there particular opponents you're planning to make rematches with?
Personally, the bout against Preston. In my opinion, August 25th was a turning point for the Belters. They had had a massive turn around in personnel, with the new girls coming in an doing an incredible job. Seeing everyone gel so well on track was very pleasing to watch!
Both the Skelpies and the Belters have had invites to rematches flooding in, but we have also had interest from new opponents in equal measure. We are planning on heading down to Barrow to play our good friends in Barrow Infernos again, so I'm looking forward to settling the score there!
Speaking of rematches, the Central Belters' first win came in the Battle of Britain tournament, playing their very first opponents, Lothian Derby Dolls, once more. Just from the crowd reaction, it was clear that the win meant a lot to the team; tell us more about the Belters got there.
The win against Lothian was a massive milestone for the girls. As you mentioned, the Dolls were their first opponents on the 18th of May. The Belters were beaten and have, since then, worked tirelessly to improve. The Belters spent the next few months bouting teams such as North Wales, Furness Firecrackers, Rainy City, Preston etc. and scrimming against even more. Every week has shown steady improvement for the Belters, which came to fruition as they held their own at the Battle of Britain.
Meanwhile, your co-ed team, the Belter Skelpers, only managed to find one team to play them, and that a combination of Mean City and New Town working together. Being one of the very first co-ed leagues in Scotland (and, indeed, the UK), has the disadvantage of providing very few opponents. How are Bairn City planning on improving competition in the co-ed game?
Belters Skelpers VS Mean Town was a lot of fun, and a very close game! We had quite a lot of feedback from people that watched the bout, saying how much fun they had. There was interest in us playing coed bouts in England earlier on in the year, but we decided to concentrate on the Skelpies and Central Belters individually first. We've also had quite a lot of mix teams come to Falkirk to scrim against us, which may hopefully spur a few public bouts in 2014. Coed still seems a bit taboo with a percentage of the Derby community, but our doors are always open for people to come train with us to check it out.
The Skelpies had the honour of starting off Bairn City's bouting year, playing South Wales Silures back in April to a packed crowd. They'll also be starting off the new year, playing Mean City on the 25th of January. How do you feel the Skelpies have developed over the year? Are you predicting a win to start off 2014?
The Skelpies have played some tough opponents this year. We kicked things off against South Wales Silures in April, which contained many skaters that had previously skated for The Expendables in the 2012 European Championships. We then played against Tyne and Fear in June and a Barrow Infernos/Tyne and Fear mixed team in July, who speak for themselves. They were both very good teams. Since then we have been doing nothing but train as hard as we can, scrim as often as we can and hopefully the benefits of that will be reaped throughout 2014. I wouldn't like to predict anything against Mean City, in all honesty. Mean City will be a difficult team to beat with Konanbourg, Tea Virus, Whyte & MacDie and Zero G all making the Scotland roster. I have also played alongside BruiseDog, Blue Grass, Samikaze and Grizzly so I know what talent their team possesses. We also have a few new faces ready to take to the track, who I am sure will more than raise a few eyebrows, however I'm not willing to give away too much! I think both teams are evenly matched and it is poised to be an incredible bout.
Quite a few of Bairn City's Skelpies tried out for Power of Scotland, the Scottish Men's Roller Derby team, and many of them got in. How does it feel to have gone from "new league" to providing a reasonable chunk of the national team in so short a time?
When I first started Bairn City, I honestly wasn't too sure we would transcend above a recreational league however the competitive nature and desire to take individual development to that next level has been second to none. Everyone within the league has shown complete dedication to improvment and moving the league forward, so it feels incredible to see everyone's hard work paying off. It made me so proud to see so many of my team mates being selected. Myself, Dreads (Dreadie Mercury) and Dead Hardy have been here from day one, with Baron and Shady joining a few months after. I think we're over our honeymoon period though, and as they say "the hard work starts now." Looking through the Scotland roster it's good to see Capital City, Mean City and the Brawlermen all being represented at this years World Cup. It will bring about a positive boost for men's derby in Scotland and I can't wait to see what 2014 will hold.
With this year now over, can you tell us about Bairn City's plans for the future? What's coming up in 2014?
There's a few very exciting things going on behind closed doors, but I'm afraid Basha Roo might hip check me if I told you!
The Skelpies have a big year coming up, with some of us going to the World Cup in March. We also have a couple of details to iron out on a few more events, which I'm really looking forward to. The Belters are also currently booking up their year, with a few away bouts that will see them leave the comfort of Scotland.
As a whole, we hope 2014 turns out to be as fun as 2013, that we can continue to grow and introduce more people to the wonders of Roller Derby!
Next up to look back at 2013 for Auld Reekie Roller Girls, is Twisted Thistles captain, Ciderella.
Auld Reekie's Twisted Thistles turned in a very strong season, skated across the pond at ECDX, won against some old rivals and lost only once to LRG's Brawl Saints.What do you think have been the team's highlights from such a busy year? Well actually we lost twice; the other game was against Gotham's B team, the Wall Street Traitors. But going across to the USA for the first time, that was a high point. The whole experience was amazing, not just whilst we were there, but the run up to it too. The whole league was behind us, helping fund raise, train and encouraging us to do our best.
Picking up on a couple of the highlight bouts, did the Thistles performance at ECDX surpass your expectations?...and just what is it about big competitions that pull out the best in ARRG as a team? I don't think it surpassed my expectations, only because I really expected a lot! Having trained so hard all year I knew what the team was capable of. Though of course there is also that fear that it wont go to plan and something will go wrong. So I was pretty relieved when it all worked out and we played a very strong weekend. We do love a tournament though, it really gives you a chance to bond and of course with several games in close succession you really get into the zone. We've done a lot of tournament specific research and preparation over the years so we can really get the most out of it. Crazylegs introduced a lot of good ideas in regards to this and they really paid off (I can't tell you because it's all secrets ;) ).
ARRG have a long history with Bear City, and despite some exciting and close fought bouts. have never managed to beat the Berlin side until this year.What did it mean to the team to finally best the Bombshells? Having skated in all of those games myself, it was an exciting time to finally beat them with a good points margin. There is always one strong team you want to get a win on and they were one of them. Stockholm, who we beat during our festival game, was another. I think the team was chuffed with the whole weekend; I know we did not beat the Brawl Saints, but we came pretty darned close and I know we can do it next time.
WFTDA's November 2013 Rankings have LRG, ARRG and GRD as the top placed European teams.What does the ranking mean to ARRG and more broadly to European Derby? The ranking for us was great and had been one of our WFTDA team goals for 2013, but more specifically it meant that we got into division two (as did Glasgow). I think it shows that geographical stronghold that the US has over derby is shifting and European teams are realising that they are more than capable of performing well within the WFTDA ranking system. I think that during this year and 2015 we will see more and more European teams enter the WFTDA rankings and do well. Hopefully creating the situation where teams don't have to spend a large amount of money to go to the States and get the ranking the are capable of but are able to do it within Europe instead.
The Cannon Belles also had a very successful season, pulling in wins against HRD,MMR and Vienna, and also had their first overseas bout against Amsterdam.What have been the highlights of the year for the Belles? I just think that this year we've seen the Belles really come together as a team. It is just as competitive for places on the Belles as it is the Thistles and they've had a much more settled and regular line up as well as Bullet regularly captaining them. The Vienna game was a very exciting match but seeing them deal with their first overseas trip made me very pleased. I think they learned a hell of a lot and I look forward to seeing what they bring to the table next year.
On a more personal note, you became captain of the Twisted Thisles this year. How did that feel when you heard the news and what are you looking forward to bringing to the role? I was of course, very happy to get captaincy this year. I've been vice for 3 seasons and I felt like I was really ready to step up to the plate. Thankfully the team thought the same! I'm looking forward to working with Stitches this year and continuing in the same competitive manner that we've always done. I would love to climb further up the WFTDA rankings and plague the team with more weird anecdotes and bizarre motivational speeches.
Lastly, 2013 will be a hard year to top, can you give us any hints about ARRG's plans for 2014? Of course; our home season kicks off on the 2nd of Feb, all of the teams have had a reshuffle so i've seriously got no idea who will win this year, all of the teams looks amazing. The Thistles are off to the States again to compete at the Big O, in Eugene, Portland in May, so watch this space for some more high level Scottish derby! We are holding another fresh meat taster session for those who want to come and have a try at the sport sometime around March, so keep your eyes out if you want to get involved, no skates needed. And no doubt we will be hosting another sell-out School of ARRG-Knocks bootcamp at some point in the year. Lots to do!!!
To see in the new year, we at the Scottish Roller Derby blog have cast back our eyes over the past year of derby. We'll be presenting a series of interviews with the Scottish leagues about their 2013 over the next few weeks.
What better way to start than with one of our most newly bouting leagues, Livingston's New Town Roller Girls? We caught up with team captain and league manager Hazzard to look over the highlights of their year.
This year saw skaters from New Town bout publicly twice: once as one half of the Co-ed "Mean Town", against Bairn City's Belter Skelpers, and then in New Town's own cherry popper, with New Town taking on Furness Firecrackers' Flaming Noras. How did it feel to be passing that important milestone?
It felt amazing! There are no other words to describe it! Thanks to our girls for their hard work and the help of some amazing leagues as hosts, guest skaters and opponents we pulled off our first two public appearances and took home a lot of experience!
As New Town took the unusual step of breaking their co-ed cherry before their "normal" one, can we expect to see more Co-ed outings for the league? Maybe even a co-ed team ?
Most likely not a co-ed team but we are fond of those guys over at Mean City! Our girls are free to choose if they participate in any mixed co-ed events in the Scottish derby world and we certainly don't discourage skating with the guys!
New Town have built up strong connections with many of the other derby leagues in Scotland, including Mean City and Bairn City. How has the derby community helped New Town to grow this year?
So much! From helping us out with coaching to hosting us in our first bouts they've done wonders for us! We hope that 2014 will see us engage with even more leagues and get involved in even more events and we're eager to see what the year has in store for us!
That community spirit contributed to some other appearances by New Town skaters, with several playing in the "cherry popper" bout preceding Granite City and The Jakey Bites' Co-ed exhibition bout in July. Does a first appearance in a mixed team ease you into derby, or is it just as "real" as an outing of New Town as a team?
I personally think it helps you get over some of the stresses of a competitive bout. It means that you're not too involved with getting your team to win (even though that's part of the fun) . You can focus on enjoying the atmosphere and playing to the best of your ability with people in the same position as you! We also had some skaters in the recent GRD charity bout who were popping their cherry or on their second bout and they loved it! Gets you more involved with the derby community as a whole!
Growth as a league also means picking up new sponsors. I noticed that New Town have collected Sckrpunch as a sponsor this year. Does this imply you'll be present at some of the Derby Revolution events also organised by the store?
We've not had anything about on an official level but I've seen the events floating around. (Recently it was announce Suzy Hotrod would be holding classes?!) But we're very happy to have such a well known derby name tied with ours and we're looking forward to whatever we do together in the future! Especially if a trip to the store in Belgium happens! I'm still hoping for another Skate Odyssey!
And finally, what can you tell us about New Town's plans for 2014?
Well I can't really say much as most of what we have happening behind the scenes is in its early stages but what I can tell you is that we are New Town Roller Girls and we're out to kick 2014's ass! We have some amazingly strong skaters coming through our ranks at the moment and we're growing as a team week in and week out! I feel more than privileged to skate with the girls who are working their butts off to make themselves and the team great! So watch this space!