Photo courtesy of Neal Humphris
30 January 2011: Full Metal Track It
Usually we’re busy stuffing our faces with roasted food, Sunday lunchtime, but not this week. No, this week the Dames bouting team, Refs, NSOs, lineup and bench team and travelling supporters were meeting up at the van hire centre or outside the Mailbox with skates, pads, snacks, flags, snacks, boutfits, make-up bags, snacks drinks and more snacks, ready for the 3hr drive to Croydon Roller Derby’s bouting venue in Carshalton.
Having agreed that it would be childish to race all the way there in our two minibuses, we settled in for a Dames road trip. Bus 2 took an early lead, but timing and an attention-grabbing moon from Violet Attack and Little Ruffty helped Ruffty (at the wheel of Bus 1) gain ‘Lead Driver’ status as we approached the M40 and the driving contest was effectively won there and then.
Croydon were well organised and when we parked at the venue just after 4pm the track laying was well underway and we were met and directed to the changing room. This was a first public bout for several Dames (Izzy Dauntless, Nico Warrior, Kathleen Hamma, Rip Lashes and Razor Red) and there was some nervous chatter, and some nervous silence, as we waited to warm up and have equipment checked before the game. But as soon as the first whistle began we just played roller derby.
The Dames hadn’t bouted as a team since April 2010 and some of the more experienced blockers were initially a trifle over-excited to be back on track; I for one didn’t play as sensibly as I should have done, being sent to the penalty box twice early on. The first half points were fairly evenly distributed but with there was a succession of Dames stuck in the penalty box, including one jam where the box was full and blockers were waved off. Croydon later had an amazing 20-point jam (Jessica Rammit jamming) to go into the lead and by half time the score was Croydon 50-41 Blitz Dames.
Dames Captain Violet Attack gathered her troops for a quick team talk: she told us that the Dames were allowing the Croydon jammers to fly past on the outside far too easily. If we could just keep 5 players on the track for each jam, we could stop Croydon scoring. Without their power jam, Croydon would not have been in the lead. Dames blockers just needed to play with less heart and more head, and stay on the track so that our jammers would have the help they needed to slip through the pack.
We don’t like to disappoint Attack. And so the second half was a different story, with the Dames holding the Croydon jammers back more effectively, and Dames jammers steadily scoring points. There was brave and determined jamming from Nico Warrior (and I’d like to send our thanks to the Warrior friends and family for their passionate and noisy support) slipping through walls and bouncing back up every time she was knocked down, and confident and crafty jamming from Nina Nunchucks; Violet Attack as ever caused problems for the opposition wherever she chose to play, and Sleazy Rider and Izzy Dauntless were tireless in knocking holes or positionally blocking in the pack. Rookie skater Razor Red worked well at the front of the pack with Bitchy or Doc, and teamwork across the second half saw the Dames outscore Croydon with 74 points in the half against Croydon’s 31.
Croydon players we were particularly wary of were Jessica Rammit and Amazon Dragstar, Mary Blockins, Mosquito and Jeopardy Jinx; we felt that the level of derby skills was good from both teams, and everyone will have learned something from the bout. Croydon were lovely hosts, we felt welcomed and well looked after (they fed us! brought fruit and water and cake! gave us goodie bags!) and we hope we can return the love in a home fixture before too long.
Everyone involved in a roller derby game has a slightly different view and interprets that view in their own way; whether you’re in the suicide seats, the back of the stands, skating in it or standing in the centre of the track, you can’t see everything. This, then, is my recollection of the game; I was on the track a lot, I am well known for my inability to think and skate at the same time and obviously missed a lot of what was going on around me. So if I fail to mention someone’s brilliant play or amazing piece of skill, sorry, I was probably in a world of my own at the time.
~ Roisin Roulette #N17