Catch Up

Hello, it’s been a while.

It seems that the last time I posted was way back in October. I find time now to post from the train heading over to Hull – yes, I’m over to see the lovely HARD Angels play, and then on to the Christmas party this evening :-)

Training

I don’t have my training notes with me, though from memory turn out has been reasonable in the weeks since the very poor showing in October. In Gillie’s absense Carly and Chris have done a sterling job coming up with sessions. Gillie returned (married) a few weeks ago and it’s great to have her back. It seems that she and I the only ones who are keen on endurance drills! I do have note that perhaps three weeks ago I actually was last man standing at Queen of the Track. First time that’s ever happened; I usually get taken out with a sneak attack whilst engaging someone else. Then two weeks ago I managed to knock Buckingham Malice down whilst we were scrimming. (This is devalued somewhat though as he was extremely hung over, having had to step outside half way through the session to throw up. Oops!) One of our newer skaters, Matt (AKA The Beast) has made good progress and passed his mins. Well deserved as he turns out to all of the sessions and works hard throughout. This enabled him to take part in our Christmas co-ed scrimmage yesterday.

Christmas Brawl

Our co-ed scrimmage yesterday was a wonderful success. The previous event was on the same weekend of the Mens Euros up in Newcastle and we struggled with attendance. This one was over subscribed, though late cancellations allowed us to invite those on the reserves list.

I was on Team White (Snow would have been a better name) and I ended up as captain. A moment of panic until I realised that Chris was the captain of Team Black (Coal??) and Carly was head ref – so working with friends :-) I felt a little nervous, as I do at these events, though with no need. It was good to see Tony O and Tony A on my team – both started with Skateful Dead, so it was like “old times”. Of note on Team Black were Slam C Nesbitt and Feral Fairy. I’ve never been on track with Slam but those that know him will know that he is something of a legend and an absolute gent. I’ve only been on track once with Feral – playing Queen of the Track at the end of a fresh meat session over in Manchester when I first started in Derby.

The first half passed so quickly, the whistle confusing many who though it was a time out or something. Jammer was by rotation to those that wanted it. I jammed during the game and also in the last jam, suffering a cut track penalty (my only penalty) but also scoring a point :-)

All those skating did so with level heads and the sense of fun that we aim for. We also had a good crew of NSOs and referees. Thank you all for making it such an enjoyable event – YOU ROLL!

Weekend Off*

This weekend was my first weekend “off” derby. One doesn’t really take time off from derby. I had offered my NSO services to Leeds Roller Dolls, but wasn’t required. I’ve met some of the LRD players at The Works, so wanted to go and support them. I decided that I’d go and watch them.

chart of score by jamIt felt very odd just watching a game. I set about tracking the score jam by jam. The scores were even until jam 9 when RIPunzel scored 15 points for Leeds. From then they led until the eleventh jam in period 2. As can be seen from the chart, both teams had periods when they didn’t score for a couple of jams in a row. Jam 13 and 14 in period 2 were power jams for Leeds. Skatewell Tart racked up 25 points in one of them. I did also note that she is an awesome blocker.

I think I noted that three players fouled out, I believe Tinchy Slider (Central City) was the first to go, followed by Rigs and El Nasser for Leeds.

Also of note:

  • Central City have some lovely merch. I got a T-shirt, regular pin badges and an enamel badge
  • The Futsal floor was not very sticky. The edge rope was frequently dislodged by skaters, more so than with other halls
  • Futsal have a policy of no food and drink being brought in by spectators. They were running bag checks on the door

The second game was Whip-Its vs Central City B. However, the break between games I was asked if I could NSO. Penalty box timing it was then.

It was a very enjoyable event. One final thing that made me smile was El Nasser standing on the rope whilst I was helping take up the track. Thanks El :-)

Training

Training today was quite well attended, eight blokes and Carly too. It was good to have Baker back on skates. He was “taking it easy” though still managed 35 (is that even possible) in 5 and played very well.

Lots of useful drills throughout, big thanks to Carly and Buckingham for keeping the session moving along. There was time at the end for me to try my clockwise skating. This week I managed 26.5 in 5. I’ll nail 27 soon I hope :-)

We also discussed sessions and events up to the end of the year. We are hoping to have another co-ed scrim before Christmas and a roller disco near to Christmas. I’ll share dates when they’re confirmed.

So another skatey weekend under the belt :-)

Bridge?

Last week was, I think, the worst turnout that we’ve ever had at training! Just four of us on skates, including Carly our ref. Baker was there too, though not skating as he’s injured himself. (A non-skating injury!) Good to see you Baker, missing you on track, get well soon :-)

With so few there we couldn’t stick to the training programme and a scrim was obviously out of the question. Fortunately Matt wanted to work on his minimums so that’s what we did.

It was the first time out for me in my new knee pads. Knee falls were enormous fun as the pads are way more slippery than my old ones. I could slide for ages! We also had lots of time to practice our own skills and time for some messing around too. I’ve been working on jumping two foot translations. I’ve found that going to the skate park at The Works has made me more confident about jumping. I’ve always liked to keep my skates on the floor.

Matt did really well. He ticked off his 27 in 5 with style, hits he’s always been comfortable with and falls are easy. Well done Matt!

At the end of the session I did 24 in 5 clockwise, which I was pleased with, 27 very soon I hope.

The Works

On Monday evening I made it over to The Works again. This was an extra “skaters only” that Ashleigh had organised for Gemma (I believe, as she is moving away from Leeds soon). This too was low numbers, though it was expected. Discussion in the Fraternity of Rogue Skaters group had concluded that a monthly meet would be best. I highly recommend it, next one is 27 October if you can make it.

I got chatting to a young Italian skater who could grind and jump. He wasn’t afraid to point out what I was doing wrong. He’s studying in Bradford so we got the same train back that way. There were a few other new faces there, all good for increasing numbers. It was good to see Sam (Flame) – she’s very confident on the ramps/pipes but also very encouraging of others :-)

My achievement was to jump flat top of a block with ramps. I’d like to be able to grind, but that’s going to take some work I think.

Dublin

Last weekend Hulls Angels were playing the Dublin B team over in Ireland. I tagged along to do my photos thing.

The adventure started on Friday. In order to keep travel costs to a minimum I had booked cheap flights. Going out from Manchester at 11pm on Friday and returning at 6.20am on Sunday. The total cost of the flights was just over £20, the same that I paid for train tickets to get me to the airport! Once in Dublin I’d be staying in a hostel.

I spent Friday in school doing governor stuff then had the evening to get myself packed and check over my camera gear. I was travelling very light, just a small camera bag and a shoulder bag.

The journey to the airport started a little before 8pm, giving me plenty of time to check in. I was pleased to bump in to Dave and Morgan and Nuke 9t (who played for Scotland) in the bar. It’s always reassuring when your travelling to be with friends. The flight to Dublin was fine, but someone mistook Morgan’s bag for theirs and took it from the carousel! Dave said that I should just get on while they stayed and sorted out the missing case. The bus service to the town centre is good and I made it to the hostel for 2am.

I’m not familiar with hostels, but the bloke on reception was very helpful. I asked about security, for my camera. “There’s a cage under the bed. Do you have a padlock?” No, I didn’t, and he didn’t have any spare. There was a safe deposit box, but that sounded a bit OTT. I was sharing the room with three others. He said that usually there weren’t any problems with the small rooms. He checked his computer. “It’s three Germans in there with you”. ” Ha, that’s fine then” I said. I consider them very trustworthy. I snook in to bed and tried to get some sleep.

The 6.40 alarm wasn’t particularly welcome, but the minibus to the leisure centre was booked for 8.30 from a different part of town. Dublin is a beautiful city, bustling with life and some very impressive buildings. The sun was just up as a I walked along the Leiffy to meet the others.

The drive south the Greystones didn’t take too long, with a slight detour to pick up a few of the team on the way. It’s a lovely leisure centre, nice seating and a small café area just outside the sports hall. The track had already been laid, so time to check the light and say hello to the ref crew.

Cake and merch stalls started to spring up, spectators arrived and other photographers.
All of the photographers I’ve ever met have been friendly. Unfortunately it wasn’t so this time. There are often two boxes marked inside the track for photographers to stand in. This keeps them out of the way of the referees, NSOs and flying skaters. This guy was stood in one of the boxes with a pro camera/lens, so I went to have a chat with him. From the outset he was rude, asking what ISO I was using then telling me that was no good. And my lens was no good either. And he had a “press pass” so he’d be staying in the box cause he “had to get photos”. No amount of jolly banter worked on him. Then he asked how long a “match lasted”. He was shocked when I answered 60 minutes. Frustrated I went and asked Abi if she had a contact at Dublin RD so we clarify the situation. She did and we spoke to them. They sorted it out straight away, much to my relief. I shared the inside of the track with various togs during the day and it worked very well. Mr Obnoxious got bored I think and left after the co-ed scrim, missing the Ireland-Scotland game and the DRD-Newcastle game.

DRDB-HARD-14AIn the Dublin B/Angels game Dublin took an early lead and looked like they would run away with it. But HARD fought back and and towards the end held the lead. Dublin nipped it back, the game ending at 165 to 164. Very exciting. (The card right shows the score against jam with HARD in green.)

The co-ed scrim followed and was another close game. Bravehearts took it 126 to Celtic Warriors 121.

The third game was Ireland Men’s Roller Derby taking on Power of Scotland. Manic. One of the NSOs was worried about skaters crashing into the middle of the track so I was very politely asked to move outside. Ireland took the win, though I don’t recall the score. (Better than 155 against 94, which was the score with almost 9 minutes to go.)

We had to leave half way through the last game, Dublin vs Newcastle, but they did draw the raffle (early for us I think) before we left. We did rather well, I’d never won anything in a raffle but picked up a bottle of red wine this time. Dane-ish won a bottle of champagne, Rollosapien won two prizes. The mini bus driver, Valentine, was a star. He had a corkscrew and plastic glasses. We opened the wines and shared them out on the journey back. It was just like our trip back from Dundee earlier in the year :-)

The after party was at Thomas House, a bit of a win for me as it is just around the corner from the hostel. I started with a pint of Guiness, well, you have to in Dublin, and got talking to a handful of skaters, Abnorman amongst them. I also got to have a jolly good chat with Whippy and her friends. Lovely people. I hit the sack at around midnight I think, with my alarm set for 4am.

The journey back was with many of HARD, though it was a quiet affair, I imagine we were all tired. I was back home before 10am, which seemed very strange. Time for a sleep before Skateful Dead practice.

What an amazing weekend!

Sweaty

Weekend three of my derby crazy month and after the photo trip to Nottingham on Saturday I was at practice with The Skateful Dead on Sunday.

Not many of us made it, six in total, so not enough for a scrim. They can be odd sessions. I always tell myself that it’s an opportunity to work extra hard. With the training plan on hold we practised a variety of blocking techniques and walls, reformation and recycling. This did give me opportunity to jam a little more than my fair share :-)

I like jamming but I have plenty of room for improvement, so practice is good.
The number on track reduced further when Buckingham did his neck in and Ash stepped off (injury? hangover?). This gave opportunity for some free time so I worked on transitions.

Subvert

Sam (Flame) had arranged at bit of a session at Subvert in Wakefield. It’s a small indoor skate park that is party of the shop, in the Xscape centre. I didn’t make it there until after 6.30. Sam and two others, Maha and Gemma were already there. I kitted up and joined them. The young lad in charge seemed pleased to have new interest in the park – “sick”!

There was a small group of boarders there too, practising a route/trick over and over. I guess that’s what it takes to get them down pat. That made me feel better about being too timid to drop in to a half-pipe or grind an edge. Both are things that I long to do.

I managed to fall on my left knee. It hurt more than it should have done. I guess my knee pads have had it; I ordered some more this morning. Hoping that they’ll arrive before Friday.

An enjoyable evening. Thank you Sam for your encouragement and Maha for letting me talk you to death on the journey back to Leeds. (The image I have in mind is Airplane, over Rio Grande :-) )

Gym

This evening was a gym evening. Nothing special, but it does mean that I’ve exercised three days in a row, that has to be good. I seem to end a good number of my days carrying around a rucksack of sweaty clothes :-)

Photography

I was down in Nottingham on Saturday, a double header: Super Smash Brollers vs South Wales Silures followed by Nottingham Roller Girls vs Hulls Angels Roller Dames. After a bit of a break from derby photography I was back on it as HARDs photographer.

The day went really well, travel on public transport is quite an art. I was up early enough to get a train before I needed in case my target train failed. It didn’t, so the 7.53 got me to Leeds with 20 minutes to get my tickets for the onward connection to Nottingham. I’d prepared food and drink too. My netbook is an good companion on these journeys.

Nottingham station is excellent. The toilets are clean and free to use. The information about connecting services is easy to find. The bus service out to the (NTU) campus is every 15 minutes. As a result I arrived relaxed and in good time.

When I arrived SWS were already on track, with over an hour to go before the game started. Keen! :-) Most of HARD were already there, it was good to see Mariana back up on her feet. I was also pleased to meet a few that I’d skated with last week in the co-ed scrim at Death Row. Rosie P was announcing (and it turns out that she’s rather good at it). I checked the light in the hall; very good, quite bright and a good colour. Lunch and then the mens game was on.

LangloisThe men’s game was a typical mens games. Lots of big hits, lots of falling over, but mixed in some really good play. I think the main aspect that I noticed that I need to put in to practice is getting low. I saw it used effectively by jammers, ducking under blocking moves, and blockers when challenging oncoming blockers. I didn’t notice the score until the end. All the way through it felt pretty even. Both teams worked really hard and the action was utterly non-stop. The final score was SWS 354 to SSB 56. I’m pleased to report that the game was played in good spirit.

The skaters always seem larger than life on skates, except for me it seems. I look so scrawny in the photos from the co-ed last week. Since then I have paid particular attention to how skaters appear. Non of the male players, not indeed the female players, looked quite so skinny. The nearest I spotted was Marc of the Beast, yet he was a bloody good player. In particular I noticed that his sharking (hanging off the back of players in the wall and sticking your arse out so that the jammer can’t pass) was really effective. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet?

After a short break it was NRG/HARD. HARD were first to score and they snook out an early lead. Then NRG called a time out and seemed to come back revitalised; leading up to half time they took the lead and then it changed hands a few times. At the end of the first period there were 9 points in it, HARD 91 to NRG 82.

I want to compliment the NSO crew on being so stylish. The jam timer was sporting an excellent moustache (and beard) and a very fine red hat. One of the penalty trackers was wearing a beautiful dress and had perfectly done blue hair. The NSOs were also in red (SWS were playing in grey).

No star for you!The second half was fairly well controlled by HARD who seemed to have found their stride. They pulled out a convincing lead and, whilst they had to work at it, they never looked like they would be caught. There was a scary moment when Iron Giant went down, the game halted and medics were called over. Fortunately after a few jams she had her skates on and was back on track.

The final score was HARD 247 to NRG 133.

A few went to the (first) after party, in the student bar, so I tagged along. I was very pleased to be able to share in the chatter about the HARD road trip up to Scotland. I also had a bit of a chat with Melon Collie; I’m getting to know the individuals in the team better now, which is great. :-)

After that I had the long journey home. The train up from Nottingham was lovely, almost empty, lots of leg room, clean and quiet. The train from Leeds to Mytholmroyd was the last of the evening – the drunk wagon. Add to this that it was only two carriages and the passengers included a hen party and a group of drunk blokes hitting on them. Not a joyous leg to the journey. However, the day was rounded off perfectly by a message from from of the HARDies asking if I’d had a good day and apologising for not having had chance to catch up – this is why I love them! :-)

Thank you Nottingham RD for such a well organised event.

Three in a row

Day #2

Sunday is Skateful Dead training day.

I woke in Hull after a good night’s sleep at Hull Trinity Hostel. I figured that I’d get an early train back – I’d booked a ticket on the 10.40 arriving in Leeds at 12 noon. However I found that train tickets purchased on the day are three times the price of those bought in advance. Crazy! So I called in at McDs for breakfast and then went and settled in the Starbucks across the road and read my book.

I made it home with 30 minutes to shower and change before heading off to training. It was another really good session. So often now I find that they fly by. Gillie was all dressed up, having been to a christening – teacher shoes worked well when she was shouting “sprint!” at us during endurance :-)

She’d also listened and we started off by working on hip-checks. Thanks Gillie! I was working with Si-clops, an opportunity to suffer. He got some damn good hits on me. My left thigh isn’t bruised. Yet. On one hit I felt my back crack and then I was worried that I’d f***ed it up again. Fortunately it’s all good :-)

Scrim was hard work; we were low on numbers. Four a side to start with, then three a side. Si-clops loves to jam and he’s pretty good at it, though Matt did knock him off track once – good job Matt!

Day #3

Yesterday evening I trekked over to The Works in Leeds. Spinal Taff had arranged with them to have a “wheels on your feet” only session. So, no scooters, BMX or boards.

The Works has a climbing wall (also of interest to me) but also an big indoor skate park. Loads of derby players were there, I reckon more than 20, some with their kids. I was pleased to recognise many from Leeds Roller Dolls and Aire Force 1.

Quad, freestyle and aggressive skates

Skates!

Most of those skating were sporting their quad derby skates. I was in my Rollerblade Broskow in-lines, right in this photo. These are made for ramps, half-pipes grinding and such silliness. I’ve had them for years, but never used them much – landed badly numerous times.

Derby though has improved my skills and given me more confidence. I didn’t drop in on any of the big quarters and I didn’t grind anything – aims for the future – but I had tons of fun.

The skate park has a lovely long section called “Easy Street” that is mainly flat ramps. By the end of the evening I had a lovely run from end to end. It included a ramp with a jump up a step on to a platform and a drop of around 40cm. I only fell over twice, but the wooden surface is much nicer to land on than concrete!

After two hours of craziness I was very sweaty and very happy. There are plans to run the session monthly. Cost for two hours is £4. I’ll be encouraging my Skateful Dead bros to make it over there. I can see that this is going to be really helpful at building skate skills.

So, three days in a row with wheels on my feet! :-)

Hull, it’s not shit

Bit of a crazy start to the day. I misread the train times last night so set my alarm for the wrong time. Then I was slow getting up. I had a niggle that I’d not left myself much time to get out to Ennerdale Leisure Centre.

Cup of tea in hand I realised my error. Panic ensued, a taxi to Hebden Bridge, the York train and made Leeds on time for the Hull train.

It was full of Man City fans drinking lager and, therefore, taking it in turns in the toilet. Train toilets are never terribly nice places to be and in contrast those at the station in Hull were lovely!

In the rush I forgot to pack my sticky hybrid wheels. As I sit in the café typing this I rather hope that the floor here is forgiving :-)

Post Scrim

The scrim was really good! Thank you Death Row for organising it. We did a bit of a warm up and then played an ice breaker game, which I’m totally going to steal and take back for our scrims. The teams were well balanced and everyone played with a lovely derby spirit. We played three 30 minute periods, which was just enough to leave us nicely tired. I don’t know what the final score was. Team Goody Two Shoes was leading by 30 points at the end of the first period, after that I lost track.

I got a few penalties, failure to reform once and cutting track probably 4 times. The best thing is, I didn’t feel out of place, so a huge thank you to Skateful Dead for progressing me to this level.

Ennerdale Leisure Centre is quite old, but it works well. The floor was forgiving, just a good level of grippy and I wouldn’t have put my other wheels on even if I’d had them with me. The showers are open plan and were quiet, so I didn’t have to worry about all my stuff when using them.

I’m also very happy with the public transport. Buses to/from Ennerdale are frequent and right outside the door. Once back to the town centre I grabbed food and headed out the the hostel that Nicc is working on. I got a little lost, but what a bonus! I stumbled across the arty bit of Hull on my way. Once I dropped my stuff off I headed back out with my (little) camera. There are some amazing buildings in the old part of town. As I type this I’m sat in a park listening to a fountain. Beautiful evening :-)

Party HARD

DaveThe day was rounded off with Hulls Angels 4th birthday party. Miley Si Rush was in this part of town early, so we went for a drink then on to the party.

It was great opportunity to chat with some lovely people. I most often only get time with the team on game days and they’re quite hectic. I find it of great value to talk about derby, to hear different opinions but, often it seems, to find my views aligned with others.

Thank you HARD for a jolly good party :-)

My bed for the night was in the hostel. I slept really well, thank you Nicc for letting me stay. It’s going to be amazing when it’s done :-)

(An individual/small collective in Hull came up with an ace t-shirt that reads “Come to Hull, it’s not shit anymore”. If you what one you should purchase it here.)

Sur4al

Well, that doesn’t work anywhere near as well as Sur5al, but there were only eight of us on track at practice today.

Today’s training session was really good. We all worked hard and the drills were good. Our coach Gillie was back after a few weeks off, Phil returned with her and Ash was back too.

After some jammer drills we played Sur4al and that was great. I jammed a few times but the black wall was impossible. It’s important to scrim as part training for a number of reasons. First, it helps to contextualise the skills that we practice. Bridging in a controlled drill is easy, but when should you do it when playing? Second, when jamming in drills there is often an assist to help with the opposing wall. Not always the case in a game.

I took a few hits, two to my left arm in the same place – thanks Phil – I’m expecting a bruise there in a day or two. Ash got a bloody good hit on me but I just managed to stay on track. Buckingham got me in the stomach, but that was not too bad. He gets so damn low!

We have a good mix at the moment. Some experienced skaters. Phil is the master of dancing on his toe stops, Lawrence gets low and is as fast going backwards as he is forwards. Baker is an ace at backwards laterals, getting is backside in the way. Niven is solid and always seems to be at the front of that pack (fortunately he was on team white today).

Of the newer guys. Ash is really good a backward laterals, followed by nice stops and a change of direction. Bilb is solid. It infuriates me that I can’t knock him over. I noticed today that Matt did some good blocking.

I’d like to improve my hip checks. I tend to lead with my shoulders. I did discover today though that I now have the confidence to do forward-backward and backward-forward two foot transitions (at low speed). I’ve always lead with one foot. So, a marginal improvement.

I don’t want to leave Carly out. She’s our ref. Imperative so call us on penalties otherwise we’d make those mistakes in real games. Thank you Carly :-)

I think that the team is just reaching a tipping point were we’ll soon have perhaps 12 regular skaters. At that point regular scrims will become a reality :-)

Great Yorkshire Showdown

I’ve had a brilliant weekend.

Yesterday I was at the Great Yorkshire Showdown in Leeds NSOing. (A reminder for any non skaters out there, NSO is Non Skating Official, we do time keeping and score keeping etc). I’d put my name forward some months ago and then forgotten about it. I was pleased to be selected as a penalty box timer.

I’ve done this role before at a few informal games, but GYSD was quite a big event. Six teams competed in two groups of three. The winners of each group when through to the final. Because (I imagine) is was WFTDA sanctioned there was paper work! Never had to do that in the past. Fortunately the box manager was a friend and he explained it. I got the hang of it by the end of the day.

I started off using stopwatches, as most do. I wanted to use the app that I wrote a bit ago, but didn’t want to mess things up. After the first game I gave myself a talking to. Who the hell is going to use the app if even I don’t trust it? Eat your own dog food is the rule! So in the second game I did use it, with the stopwatches around my neck as a back up. I was really pleased that I did. It works really well, though the experience highlighted some improvements that I can make.

The penalty box is the place where skaters don’t want to be. As a consequence when they visit they are generally not it high spirits. Most of them seem focussed on the game, a few are cross, either with themselves or with the call. A few though are chatty and jolly. Of note yesterday was Sniper from the Newcastle team. She called in a few times and asked for cakes to be ready for the next time. I also noticed that she was very happy on track.

On track all of the games seemed to be played in good spirit. There were some big hits and the medics were called to track a few times, though thankfully everyone was able to get up and walk off track after a few moments to compose themselves.

I don’t recall the scores. Some of the games were close, a few not so. The final though was amazing. Newcastle were about 50 points behind at half time but won by 1 point!

It was great to see Hulls Angels too. They brought me a HARD t-shirt so I’m one of the family now :-)

Proud to have been involved in such a prestigious, well organised event.