Spandex gives you superpowers. Fact.

23 03 2010

It’s been a big 12 months in the life of UK derby: our first European tournament, a swathe of new leagues and new recruits, growing recognition for the sport, and  blood, sweat and tears for the hundreds of women and men working to make it happen. So when London Rollergirls announced that the Texas Rollergirls, originators of roller derby itself, were coming over to put on a bootcamp and play their travel team, London Brawling, it felt like UK derby was reaching a new level.

LRG have spent the last four years inspiring, generously assisting, and ably dominating leagues across the UK. They’ve set the bar for the sport in Europe, easily defeating their closest European rivals by margins of two and three hundred points, so whilst the rest of us have been playing catch up with LRG, we wanted to know whether they would still be playing catch up with the rest of the world. Were they finally going to get their asses kicked? This was the game with the answers.

TXRG vs LRG skateout

The Texas Rollergirls, formed in 2003 and currently sitting in third spot in the DNN power rankings, looked ready to put their mark on the game. If there were spandex rankings in derby, and there should be, these women would surely win prizes. The Hustlers went straight to business with a power lineup in the first jam, but Acute Angel was swiftly sent off for a track cut, giving London’s Sky Rockit a surprise 10 point power jam and putting the Texans on the back foot. But it wasn’t long before Molotov M Pale took 10 points and equalized. As the Hustlers took a single point to lead, only to have Brawling take one back to re-equalise, a pattern began to emerge: both teams working their defense, delivering split-second call offs, and waiting. This was a game of very few, but very crucial, opportunities – and plenty of surprises.

Sky Rockit rules

Neither side could hang onto the lead for long: when Stefanie Mainey, jamming for Brawling, was sent to the box, Molotov seized her moment to snag a 10 point lead for the Hustlers, only to have Mainey storm out in the next jam to juke her way to another 10, evening the score again at 21-21. Both sides inched forward, tussling for a few points, right up until the final jam of the period when Molotov took a trip to the box and opened up another power jam for London. Sky Rockit hopped straight through the pack on the inside line to take lead, and the Brawling defense trapped Curvette to haul the pack back and force the Hustlers’ remaining blockers to overstretch. Sky sucked up an audacious minor track cut and cruised out of the jam 10 points up, bringing the half time score to 39-30 for London.

I squeeze, you squeeze.

Both teams brought a strong defense to the second period. Texas dominated the front of the pack, with Babe Ruthless frequently forming a relentless one woman wall of doom for London’s jammers. Another power jam saw them regain the lead by one point, only to have London grab it back again, and two nail biting jams later the box was getting busy and points were tied at 55-55. Then at 57-57! Then at 61-61! Ten minutes on the clock, The Final Countdown on the PA, and dancing on the jam line: this was the greatest game of roller derby we’d seen in our lives.

The power ballads seemed to refuel the Texans, and they launched into the home straight determined to break the stalemate. Bloody Mary motored off the jam line, leaving Belle Starr to sweep in and take out Kamikaze Kitten. Mary breezed through the London defense to put the Hustlers into the lead by 4. Forced to play catch up, Brawling found themselves digging deep as their jammers’ minors caught up with them. When the Hustlers got another power jam, the London pack managed to out sprint Bloody Mary, but when Axis of Evon was sent off, Texas lost no time corralling a gazelle, allowing Acute Angel to add a further 3 points to their lead and leaving London with their jammer in the box at the start of the final play. Not content with a mere 6 point lead, the Hustlers pulled out a truly monstrous 15 point final jam and sealed the score at a decisive 84-63.

TXRG vs LRG

Verdict? Outstanding spandex. And a totally riveting game with standard setting play from both sides. We just haven’t seen a game as fast, close, and tactically demanding before. And we’ve finally seen LRG meet their match – and in the process play their best derby yet. Highlights? Two things: firstly it has to be the spandex. Secondly, you know how Mainey usually plays like it’s a pleasant stroll to the shops?

Stefanie Mainey forced to make effort in roller derby shocker!

I caught up some Texans to get their thoughts on the game. Molotov said “It would’ve been really foolish for us to come here expecting to dominate.. as a team, we went into it like we’d go into one of our home games, not knowing how it would go. It was a rough game.. they had obviously studied our nationals footage! But at the end of a week of traveling and training.. going into the game with all those crazy emotions, it was awesome.”

“I was really surprised,” said Babe Ruthless, “not that they were good, but that they were really good.. every trick we had they had it too.”

And how did London Brawling respond to their first defeat? “it was so, so awesome!” said Grievous Bodily Charm*. And how are they feeling about playing more US teams? “I was worried the tour would be intimidating” said Sky, “but now I feel like it will be really fun.” Team captain Kamikaze Kitten was typically focused: “I’ve never been so exhausted after fighting my way out of the pack,” she said “I’m determined to work harder.”

“I was so proud of everyone,” said Molotov. “All I could think was: congratulations.. I think they [LRG] are going to get a lot more teams wanting to play them.” So not just an amazing game to watch, but a validating experience for London. “It feels like we’ve always been chasing America” said May BTwisted, “and now we’re not just the little sisters anymore.”

And the reaction from the Rollerbillies? We are so getting leotards.

Thank you to Hurt Reynolds and Justice Feelgood for letting me write this up for DNN, and thanks to Teshi Tailor for triumphing over the forces of high speed action to deliver these quality shots.

* okay, possibly not in response to that exact question.





CARNAGE!!

11 02 2009

An unprecedented number of Rollerbillies were in London this weekend for a roller derby double bill – Clockwork Carnage: Steam Rollers vs. the Ultraviolent Femmes, followed by Referee Bootcamp and open scrimmage, yay! Once again we brought a bunch of bout virgins, and thanks to the high level of awesomeness on display we are happy to report a 100% conversion rate. We were also delighted to be joined by AWESOME SOCK MONKEY, who was hand made for us by Betty Trouble and Cherry Bomb from the Bandits. He’s (sob) going in our birthday party raffle. He was too excited to stay in the bag though – and can you blame him?

nem-n-kitty

With a place in the season final to play for, the stakes were high in this game; some of us were cheering for the Steam Rollers and some for the Ultraviolents (AWESOME SOCK MONKEY was naturally cheering for the green team). We figured this was the best way to deal with the agonising conflicts of loyalty, but nothing was going to help us cope with the tension in this bout – both sides were out for blood. The Steam Rollers started out strong, taking the lead by the end of the first period. Their presence in the centre of the pack was more like a fortress than a wall, and a source of serious frustration to the Ultraviolents’ jammers. But nobody in this game was going to give an inch without a fight – if you want to see what it looks like when someone jams like a motherf*cker and you weren’t there on Saturday, then you missed it.

jam-like-a

Pretty soon the penalties started stacking up and we were really losing track of who was getting sent off for what. The Ultraviolents were dishing out the clops and tolchoks and by the end of the second period they’d fought their way up to a tantalising score of 49-51. The crowd were in a frenzy. AWESOME SOCK MONKEY was barely coping. But the Steam Rollers weren’t going to let it go, and in the third period they managed to consistently outscore the Ultraviolents and emerged victorious on 84-64. Possibly the most exciting LRG game yet – more violence, more penalties, more jammerless jams, an exclusion – and the most stunning cupcakes we’ve ever seen. Nom nom nom.

victory2

monkey-and-cake

But that’s not all folks. Sunday was Referee Bootcamp, and our ref Captain Carnage was ready for school. Unfortunately aWeSoMe Welles has temporarily abandoned our grumpy  little island and is now somewhere in Thailand, so it was down to Carnage to get clever. We should have got him a special pencil case and some new shoes, but we didn’t and he had to make do with a spray painted ref shirt.

refs

We were psyched to get some scrimmaging in! Going to a mixed scrim can be a scary prospect, and we were super proud of our newbies who were braving their fears and playing with the big girls for the first time. There were more whistles than we knew what to do about, but we had a lot of fun. I saw weird spots before my eyes at one point, which just goes to show that roller derby is so damn good you can go blind. Luckily Nem gave me her half-eaten boost, and after that I was fine.

Captain Carnage reports “the mixed scrimmaging was brilliant, it was awesome how everyone just got on with it. I now appreciate how hard the refs job actually is! I’ve got my work cut out for me for sure. The whole weekend has made me so excited about Derby I might actually burst. *POP*”

So there you have it. We have him under observation. If he actually goes POP we’re going to be screwed.

Congratulations to the Steam Rollers and to the Ultraviolents for playing such a kick-ass game, and huge thanks to all of LRG for putting on the scrimmage and boot camp!

Many thanks to Betty and Cherry for AWESOME SOCK MONKEY, and to Ryan Hayes for the use of these super pictures. (The one of the cupcake is ours, in case you hadn’t guessed.)

If you want a chance to win FAMOUS AWESOME SOCK MONKEY you’ll need to come to our FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY (hooray!) this saturday. If you can wait a mere 24 hours, you’ll get a post on here about that too.





LRG wore our panties

12 11 2008

What’s the best way to show your newbie skaters and refs what roller derby is all about? Seeing a real live bout is sure to fire them up and show them how the game works, but bouts don’t come along every weekend (yet) so when LRG offered to join us for training, we knew this would be a great opportunity for everyone to see how things should be done. We were lucky enough to have Kitty Decapitate, Sky Rockit, Kamikaze Kitten, Sinister Mary Clarence, Lola Volcano, and Star Spangled Bandit along for a three hour session – after which they went back to London to go training again. Hardcore.

comp-1

Every time we’ve had the chance to skate with other leagues, we’ve learned so much. Having more skaters at training gives us the chance to scrimmage (with our hot new panties), get feedback on what we’ve been up to, and learn new drills. Having guest skaters along – plus all the admiring extra people who turned up –  packed out our venue, which was awesome. George Danezis, who photographed us skating at the Mill Road Social Centre (see Squat Skating posts below from over the summer), came along and took these pictures for us. We like how he makes it look like we’re going at warp speed.

nice-angle1

Rollerbilly love to Kitty, Sky, Kami, Lola, Sin and Spangie – our derby brains are lots bigger now thanks to you, and we had a great time. Our newbie Rollerbillies bravely threw themselves in at the deep end and did us proud, and all our skaters and refs are fired up to train – and really looking forward to the next LRG bout. Much derby love also to George for the photos, and to Carmela for writing us up on her blog.

tussle

If you want to watch some awesome roller derby, you should get tickets for LRG’s next bout – Christmas Quarrel: Steam Rollers vs. Suffrajets – on December 6th. Tickets are on sale at www.londonrollergirls.com. See you there!





The bout we missed…

4 11 2008

We were gutted that Capital Punishment, the LRG v BBDD bout, was scheduled the same day as our fundraiser, but lucky for us we’ve got eyes and ears everywhere via our northernwards correspondent, the lovely Emma Jackson. Not only did we get score updates via text – it was almost as though we liked sport – we got this report:
emma1As your Romsey Town Rollerbillies representative I thoroughly enjoyed watching the London Brawlers smash BBDD. There were a couple of brave souls on the BBDD team who upheld the spirit of the sport and appreciated the talent shown to them by LRG. The Brawlers as a team and their supporters showed us all how it’s done.

The consummate professionalism of the LRG shone through in all parts of their game. Fox Sake, Hula Gunn and Belle DeBrawl were awesome in defense. Kitty Decapitate and Sky Rockit shot through the LRG teams Jam records lifting the standard to aim even higher.


And after all was said and done the after party was fun and LRG proved to be the friendliest on and off the track… My it was a fabulous saturday.

Final score: LRG 274 – BBDD 23.






LRG Summer Shovin’ Team Pink 89 – 79 Team Black

28 07 2008

The Romsey Town Rollerbillies trucked down to the capital last weekend to see The London Rollergirls hosting their final Team Pink Vs Team Black bout, the last of the best-of-three between the two kick-ass teams. Both on one a-piece, Saturday’s event was guaranteed to be one hell of a high velocity, bearing-busting bout, to end the debate as to who would reign supreme before the LRG broke for the summer.

The game saw some fantastic maneuvers from both teams, and Rollergirls were tearing up the track in their bid to win the feverish final battle. Suicide Corner pulled a number of players stacking into the crowd, but apart from the usual fat-lipping, table-tripping spin-outs, the only major injury came from a Bette Noir fall for a sprained ankle in the second period. Get well soon Sister! Both teams racked up some impressive scoring passes with double Grandslams (10 points) coming from both debutant Ninjette for Team Pink in first period, and from Poison Arrow for Team Black, in the final jam of the bout.

The guys and gals from RTRB and Last Gang in Town cranked up the decibels at Summer Shovin’, supporting both Pink & Black sides! All of us left hoarse from cheering, yet chomping at the bit to hit the flat-track hard once back home. Oh, and check out the new threads designed and modeled here by Sailor Cherry, lovin’ the new tee motif, girl!

Well done to all those involved in a marvelous event, to the victorious Team Pink and to Sky Rockit for winning the Crowd’s Rollergirl of the Match for a second consecutive bout! The Romsey Town Rollerbillies loved every minute of it and will being seeing you all in the fall!

Thanks London Rollergirls, you rock!

Ruby Hurl, RTRB

x

Kamikaze Kitten of Team Black breaking the pack to take lead jammer, and on the left Notorious E.V.E of Victorian Roller Derby League from Melbourne, Australia as Team Pinks scoregirl. Roller Derby is a growing international women’s sport, with a co-operative grassroots culture of cross-continental collaboration & respect.

Kamikaze Kitten of Team Black breaking the pack to take lead jammer, Notorious E.V.E (far left) of Victorian Roller Derby League, Melbourne, Australia, as Team Pink scoregirl. Roller Derby is a rapidly growing international sport, with a co-operative grassroots culture of cross-continental collaboration & respect.





LRG v Team Canada

13 06 2008

Last Saturday we were in London for MUTINY ON THE MOUNTIE – London Rollergirls vs Team Canada in the UK’s first international derby bout. Since derby has been going on for much longer in the US and Canada, and since TC had the derby skills of an entire country at their disposal, we were thinking LRG might finally get their asses whipped. But NO! Despite some brutal plays from Canada, London had the superior skills and strategy. On the other hand, our ace flags may have been the deciding factor.

Team Canada obviously too preoccupied getting their asses in London’s face to notice Sky Rockit sneaking up on the inside for another kick ass jam. We love Sky.