Two roller derby bouts in one day – yay! In different cities – boo! How did that happen? It was a real shame we couldn’t take in both of these games, and picking one was a hard choice. So, it was either the Middlesborough Milk Rollers playing their very first bout, up against Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames – or the London Rockin Rollers‘ first home bout, against Glasgow Rollergirls‘ travel team, the Irn Bruisers. Lucky for us, we had Lexi Leven heading up to Birmingham to support MMR and some of the rest of us made it to London to catch the action there, so between us we saw it all.
Even though we’re all playing the same sport (and most of the time we all play by the same rules), every league has its own approach when it comes to putting on bouts – and when you’ve got more than one league in a city, you need more than one style. The Rockin Rollers decided to take derby out of the sports centre and bring it to York Hall, normally home to the one-on-one violence of boxing. No kids, no chlorine, and no vending machines: this was five-on-five violence in a new kind of space.
If you’ve seen footage of LRR’s first bout against Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz, you’ll know these girls are not afraid to skate in tight spaces, and York Hall was a little on the narrow side. But with an impressive stage for Jimmy and the Destroyers at half time and amazing views from the balcony seating, what it lacked in width it made up for in height and atmosphere. Taking a trip to the bar did involve climbing over the other audience members in the little gap between the track and wall, but at least we didn’t have to bring in our own drinks. Well, Voodoo and Angela brought their own white russians and drank them out of a dinky thermos, so they missed out on climbing over potential new friends, but overall the bar was much appreciated. And with tickets sold out, you’ve got to expect a bit of squeezing and climbing – there was no keeping your distance for this game.
We heard that Glasgow had suffered some injuries during their bout against the Blitzdames only four weeks earlier. We heard they were worried – but we reckon they were hustling, because if the Bruisers were down a few skaters you would never have guessed. They stayed strong throughout the game, didn’t get distracted, and took advantage of every trip to the box made by the opposition. The Rockin Rollers kept it full colour, full volume, and full force, and despite racking up the penalties and chasing Glasgow on points, were clearly loving every minute of the game, relishing the drama, and taking their fans with them all the way.
Shame there were some bone heads in the crowd booing the visitors, but apart from their bad attitude the atmosphere was great, and as the daylight faded and the spotlights came up, the venue really came to life. The score stayed pretty close, but Glasgow’s focus and determination kept them ahead and they ended the game 106-83.
Props to GRG’s Switchblade Sarah for the scariest fall we’ve seen at a bout so far: seriously, a girl’s head should not be twisted around on her body like that. Worryingly, it took a while for the medics to wake up and climb over the crowd to assess the situation; Sarah lay there twitching, we sat there with our blood running cold, and our bout virgins’ eyes got all wide and quivery. Then she got up. Yep, and carried on playing. Terrifying and death defying: everything a derby girl aspires to be. We almost sh*t our panties.
Thanks to the Rockin Rollers and the Irn Bruisers for an awesome bout, and sorry we took so long to write it up <lame excuse removed by editor> And credit to Central City‘s Ocean Tempest for the ace shots from the balcony – free badges for you! Coming soon (no, really) the Milk Rollers versus the Blitzdames…