Scotland has seen some co-ed action over the last couple of years involving the likes of Dundee Roller Girls, The Jakey Bites, Fierce Valley, Granite city, Mean City, New Town and Bairn City Rollers. On Sunday the 20th of July Capital City Roller Derby joined those leagues after putting together a co-ed team to take on Bairn City Rollers co-ed team the Belter Skelpies.
This was Capital City’s first foray on a flat track since the league formed, with their team comprised of their own skaters as well as skaters other halfs and friends to form Capital Chums on the day. Whilst Capital City already have some recognisable men’s skaters in their ranks, they also have a few fresh new faces in the world of Scottish Men’s Derby. On the day they had Buyer’s remorse, Bish bash Josh, Critical Hit and Niko Blocker Gorey all popping their bout cherry.
The game itself was a very close fought battle with the lead changing every couple of jams till the last whistle, but it was the Belter Skelpies who took the win by five points in an epically loud and dramatic last jam.
Now that the dust has finally settled since their first bout, I took a moment to catch up with some of the Capital City guys and ask them about how they prepared for their first bout and how it went on the day.
Niko Blocker Gorey #31 (NBG) Critical Hit #2d6 (CH)
How did you find out about Derby and CCRD?
(CH): I was at a comic convention in Inverness where ICRD (or the Nasty Nessies back then) were promoting themselves. They told me about ARRG so I dragged a pal of mine along to see what it was about. We watched in complete confusion until someone explained how the game worked. After that I kept going back to the games, and in January 2013 the announcer mentioned there was a men's league starting up. A couple of weeks later I was starting down the long road to mins.
(NBG): I went along to an ARRG bout in 2009, went to a few bouts at Meadowbank thereafter, and then got season tickets for the home seasons they put on. In 2012 the Edinburgh International Film Festival screened a roller derby documentary called "Leave It On The Track", and for the next six months I remember saying to my wife wistfully (and repeatedly) 'gosh, it'd be great to try out roller derby. I wonder if a men's team is likely. I'd like to give that a go'.
In December 2012 I spotted CCRD's facebook page, and my wife noted that I would be the ultimate hypocrite to not get in touch after 6 months of wittering about my interest. So, I did, got in touch with a founder member of CCRD, and in January 2013 came to my first training session!
Having not skated previously how did you find working towards and passing your mins?
(CH): It was harder than I thought on only two hours of skate time per week. Looking back on it, I should have gone out to as many other training opportunities as I could have.
(NBG): I literally had never been on skates before. We had the old Fisher-Price 'strap on over your shoes' kids skates which I really didn't use (my brother did); I tried a friend's inline skates for 5 minutes once before deciding it wasn't for me, and may have gone ice skating 20 times in my life.
My mins pace was very much a snail's crawl. I know from other sports I have played (more than 15 years ago), that I am very much interested in the technicalities of doing something, and I will drill them to the point where people think I am insane. CCRD were great at giving me the time and space to pass my minimum skills at my own pace, there was no pressure and it really felt like an environment that supported people who wanted to race up, pass quickly and get scrimming experience, versus people like me who plodded along passing things slowly but (hopefully!) competently.
What would you say has been your biggest achievement so far in derby?
(CH): It's early days yet, so not much apart from not breaking myself!
(NBG): It has to be my first bout. I did the best I could, which by an absolute measure was very poor - but, with only one scrim prior to it, my experience is relative. And by that measure I was happy: I scored some points, got to try all positions out, only committed two penalties and adjusted to stop them recurring. Now I'm just looking forward to more training, more scrims and more game time, just logging the hours and getting more and more skill and game experience.
Did you get any pre first bout nerves?
(CH): Just a bit nervous was all. Having scrimmed a fair bit I knew some of what I was getting into.
(NBG): Honestly, no. But, I have always believed you can only train for so long, and just try to execute what you've learned as well as you can in the middle. Once you get on track, so much is going on, that you don't have time for nerves. I think you just have to be true to your training, and stay calm, and undoubtedly with more experience it'll become second nature.
What sticks in your memory most from your first bout?
(CH): I got lead and points!
(NBG): I think it'll be the jam where I was pivoting: it was early doors and I hadn't jammed, and got passed the star, at which point I absolutely went for it. I burst through the pack made at least one pass, which may be the only score I got all bout.
Did you get any good advice that helped you on track or prepare for the bout?
(CH): Zen...just be zen...
(NBG): The bench manager for my first bout is our league's captain and chair, who has absolutely moved heaven and earth to keep the league running and training well, so I have a mountain of respect for him, and his advice was simply 'remember your training' and 'stay calm'.
Is there any advice you could give others who still have their first bout to come?
(CH): Scrim, scrim and scrim some more.
(NBG): I would say don't pass up an opportunity to scrim as much as you can before the bout, to gain that game-like experience. I didn't do this: I don't drive, so further afield scrims weren't really viable, plus I have the white picket fence life so trying to carve out time for derby can be a tricky balancing act. So, if you hear 'scrims' mentioned, get to it.
Are there any skaters (Male or Female) who inspire you?
(CH): So, so many. If I start naming people I'll be here all day. All the folk who do the training at CCRD, and all the people I see regularly at scrims who give me advice, you're all great.
(NBG): I think the catalyst from going from 'this is fun to watch' to 'I'd like to give this a try' was Teenie Bash (208) from ARRG. I'm a Cherry Bombers fan (4 lyfe!) and she was absolutely excellent for them in the 2012 home season. I'm on the short side for a guy, and when I saw Teenie jamming and blocking against women considerably taller and broader than her, I realised the sport isn't predicated on size, and I guess I saw the opportunity for everyone in roller derby which makes the sport so great and progressive. So in the meantime I hope she isn't too embarrassed by me letting her know this way!
Skaters generally set goals for themselves, now that you have played in your first bout what goal's are you now looking to achieve/work towards?
(CH): Get through those darn walls! I seem to be able to get past three blockers but I don't have the acceleration to break free of the last one.
(NBG): I think that from now on I'll adopt the default position where I'll go to every scrim I can manage to and rack up some on track game-like experience. Beyond that, I've realised I'm not turning my back on the sport soon, so have shelled out for some good skates, so it's going to be more training, more scrims, more bouts.
I think my primary goal is that I'd like to get lead jammer in my next bout: I didn't get it once at my first, so that's the next life experience to check off!
Images courtesy of Laura MacDonald