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 :-)