My derby year - 2008
My name is Roisin and I am addicted to skating.
I first came to the Blitzdames open practice in September last year, then took a couple of months off for an op, coming back in November 2007. I’ve had quad skates and in-lines before, skated on streets and in parks and at roller discos but never really learned to do any more than go quite fast and stop quite slowly. I think I have skated more in 2008 than all the rest of my life put together; and as I learned to skate in 1975, that’s quite something. It has all been great. So what were the highest points of 2008?
Early in the year, the Blitzdames took a minibus load of skaters down to the London Roller Girls Boot Camp. This was a grand day out, marred only by Kiki Kasplat breaking her thumb in the newbie scrimmage (some girls apparently didn’t understand the ‘light contact for safety reasons’ instructions) and Rip Lashes sustaining a knee injury; I also travelled to Tottenham Green to watch 3 bouts in London in 2008 and enjoyed the atmosphere, skating and cupcakes. Sadly our home venue doesn’t let us sell food or drink….. Blitzdames also travelled to support their favourite teams bouting in Glasgow.
We had a great mixed practice with Middlesbrough in the spring and were kindly provided with beds or floorspace and a top night out in Middlesbrough with the Milk Rollers, which we followed by skating (somewhat gingerly) with Leeds Roller Dolls the next day.
My first bout was against Glasgow in April – the first bout for me and quite a few other Blitzdames; we had seen Glasgow bout in London (with our Violet Attack guest skating) so we knew it was going to be a close game; they had 13 skaters to our ten and were in the lead at half time. I think our endless endurance drills paid off and we came back to win by a narrow margin. It was a fiercely contested bout; I played blocker and jammer and was knocked into a complete backwards somersault at one point. Just before the end of the bout I trailed my right hand behind me as I fell and bent back 3 fingers - two of them are still swollen now in December… for months I couldn’t dress or wipe without thinking of the Glasgow girls…!
In sunny May we skated 20 hot and bumpy outdoor miles round Cannon Hill Park raising money for PHAB camps (a local children’s charity), and hosted a roller disco. With cakes!
June was all about the Team Canada bout; we met them at their hostel and had a meal together the night before and partied with them after the bout, but the actual bout was the most physical and competitive event in which I have ever been involved. I hit the wall wheels first on two occasions, and we have a big venue with loads of trackside clearance. Every Dame was battered and bruised after that one; Gun Bunny broke a toe but still get her heels on for the after party.
In July we screened the UK premier of Hell on Wheels and on the same day had a boot camp/open scrimmage event. Some of our girls went to Rollercon; the rest of us made the most of the summer and skated outdoors in venues as far afield as Wolverhampton and Kings Norton.
August and September were quieter months, apart from Leeds Boot Camp, with some time spent fund raising and promotional skating. Eliza Doolethal broke her hand in practice. We had a fabulous day shooting our 2009 calendar at various glamorous locations round Birmingham; my husband remarked that if we spent as much time training as we did posing we’d surely be world beaters by now, but he’s just jealous. And he can’t skate.
In October we travelled to Glasgow for the fabulous Glasvegas training camp hosted by the Glasgow girls with Ivanna S Pankin and Trish the Dish; we bouted London Roller Girls travel team, London Brawling, the following week and although we knew they were very good we were still surprised by the eventual score. We had Armalite Angie, Marla Mayhem, Sister Grimm and Liv or Die helping out as we had injuries and unavailable skaters; hopefully the rematch will be closer… we definitely learned from the experience.
We had planned a bout against Birmingham Alabama this winter but the Tragic City girls couldn’t raise the funds needed to travel and we had to find a replacement fixture at short notice. So November brought the Stuttgart Valley Rollergirlz to Birmingham and a more evenly matched bout, although there were a number of issues with interpretation of the rules. Bee was injured, Sleazy Rider was away, Gun Bunny hadn’t jammed for months, Eliza Dolethal was still out, and I was vomiting on the day and had to sit the match out after the first few jams, so we were pleased to win. We’re looking forward to going to Stuttgart in January for the return match. (Birmingham Alabama is rescheduled for summer 2009).
There has been plenty of drama off track too; engagements, break ups, moving in and moving out, derby weddings, tempers lost and truces reached; skaters have taken on and given up responsibilities in the league for work and family reasons; Helen Fury and the Skatrix (now known as Cupid Stunt) are tearing themselves away to concentrate on developing Severn Roller Torrent and Justine Credible has taken over as our Head Ref.
And that’s just the stuff I’m allowed to mention…
So, in December we’re having an open practice on 6th (new starters welcome) and a mixed practice with the Leeds Roller Dolls on the 13th. That’s a pretty busy derby year for a league which this time last year was struggling to recover from the mass departure of the girls who then formed Central City Rollergirls. Maybe we’ll see them on the track next season.
Maybe we’ll see you?
Merry Christmas everyone.