Banditas!

A very quick post as I should be sleeping, but I can’t – derby high buzzing through me!

The Bruising Banditas invited Skateful Dead to train with them, and that’s what a few of us did this evening. It was ace!

The best thing was having enough people to scrimmage, which we did for almost an hour at the end of the session. I found Bob invaluable on track for telling me what to do – thank you. I got a good hit on Foo – oops, sorry! Two visits to the penalty box, one of which was as the jammer – damn!

Before that we practised blocking. A wall style that we’ve be working on at our sessions, but done a little differently. One of the great things about training with others is that you see different drills and techniques. Thank you Bob!

We’ve been invited back next week, which is handy – I went down the calendar for the rest of the month and wrote “Banditas” on every Thursday :-)

A massive thank you to you all for letting us play. I am aware that co-ed doesn’t suit everyone, for various reasons, and so I feel privileged to be given the opportunity. Thank you.

Now to see if that sleep thing works :-)

 

 

Leeds (and more)

On Saturday I was with camera over at Futsal near Leeds. Two games from Tier Two of the British Championships, Hot Wheel vs Newcastle followed by Leeds Roller Dolls vs Hull’s Angels. Both promised to be interesting games.

It was lovely to catch up with the Angels. I also found that I know (or recognise) players from all of the other teams – I’ve even been on track with some of them! I also knew some of the refs and NSOs. Being part of this community makes me very happy!

Hot Wheel vs Newcastle

Joanna BruisinGoing into this game I felt that Newcastle would win, perhaps by quite a margin. They took the lead early and lead throughout the first period, though never with an insurmountable lead. The half time score was 67 to 98.

Jerry Attric must have given a good pep talk during the break. Hot Wheel came out fighting, almost doubling their scoring rate! Half way through the second period there was a 9 point difference, 122 for Hot Wheel against 131 Newcastle. It looked like they might just do it! But then Newcastle pushed a little harder, not only holding on, but extending the lead. The game finished at 150 to 194.

Leeds Roller Dolls vs Hull’s Angels

Whilst I so wanted Hull to win this, I know that LRD are a really strong team. During the warm up I noticed that Leeds were playing just 11 players (14 being the usual) – so perhaps that would favour Hull? HARD were playing some skaters that I’ve seen (recently) skating on the B team. Great to see players making progress. Well done Chickass and Kinevil Dead. The other fresh face that I didn’t recognise was Lee, a recent transfer from Liverpool Roller Dolls.

Leeds controlled the game from the first jam and extended it throughout. There seemed to be be two main factors. One, their walls were rock solid and their recycling first class. Two, Ripunzel seemed to be able to find a clear lane on the inside of pack every time see needed to get through.

During the first period El Nasser fell/got knocked down to the outside of turns one and two. She was obviously immediately in pain and didn’t get back up. The game stopped, medics attended to her and she was moved out of the way. An ambulance was called to provide pain relief and she stayed until the end of the game. It transpires that she has broken her fibula in two places. Not good at all for a skater. I wish her a very speedy recovery.

Hard played, well, hard throughout the game but Leeds were relentless. In the second half Iron Giant got expelled for a back block on Rip – the result of mistimed blocking attempt I believe, but she fell as a result. (Giant was immediately most apologetic and again after the game.)

An eventful game, ending at 279 for Leeds against 88 to Hull. (I later noted that UKRDA rank Leeds 6th and HARD 20th.)

Training

No Gillie and Phil again this week, so once again Carly stepped up and came up with a really great session – she deserves a medal! It was good to see captain Chris – not skating and obviously still not comfortable even when walking. Bilb was also there (not skating) – good to see him too. On track we had Baker, Jim, Matt, Niven, Buckingham, Lloyd, Tony and me.

This week we had a mix of drills, some time to work on personal goals and an extended endurance section. One of my goals is to be able to lead with my left foot; years of leading with my right is difficult to change. Finally, whist eight is short of a full team, it does allow us to scrim with two balanced reasonably sized teams, and that we did.

I’m pleased to report that my skate repair seems to have worked well. There was no detectable flexing as there had been before the repair and the fracture doesn’t appear to have spread any further. My back felt a little tender after the session so I did loads of stretching when I got home and it was fine. Happy!

Toes

The role call this week was Matt, Buckingham, Si, Baker, Jim, me and Carly our ref. Captain Chris is still off with his back injury (muscular) and will be for another month I reckon. Coach Gillie and Phil couldn’t make it at short(ish) notice. A massive thank you to Carly for coming up with a good session at short notice to keep us on our toes for two and a half hours.

It was all about agility this week. We did lots of solo work practising transitions and stops around obstacles, jumps and duking. Another “drill” that Carly introduced was random calls to jam. She’d call “five seconds!” and we all had that time to form a four wall on the line against a jammer/pivot combo. We’d have a two minute jam. Pivot and jammer would then switch and we’d go again.

Crack on plate on quad skateWith all this work on toe-stops I was worried about making the crack in one of my plates worse. It is worse, but not yet completely broken. I’m off to on holiday at the end of March, so can’t afford new plates at the moment. Meccano may be called into action to keep it going. (And keep it going I must as I’ve booked on to the Beginners Ref and NSO Clinic being run by Leeds Roller Dolls on 7 March.)

I have to say that I’m a little disappointed in these skates (Suregrip GT50). They are almost two years old and are falling to pieces. The shoes are coming away from the soles, so badly that along the outside edge of each skate I’ve stitched them back together. Now a crack in the plate. In comparison my in-line skates are probably eight years old and are still in good order. They get well used in the park every summer and have done a near marathon distance in Berlin one time.My next pair of skates will hopefully by much better…

six

Just six of us on track today, plus Carly our ref in the middle. We started with some exciting news, that I can’t share just yet, but if it happens it will be good :-)

I led the warm up then Carly took over and led the rest of the session. As numbers we low we focused on minimum skills for the new guys, which I really enjoyed. I spent time with Jim and Rob working on plough and T stops. Jim succeeded with the “skate a straight and curve on one foot” skill. Rob worked on stepping and confidence on one foot, with the next step being T stop.

Those that wanted practised jumping and apex jumps. Buckingham had observed a technique yesterday which we all found really good. One we’ll be practising more in future. Even I found I could do (small) apex jumps.

Towards the end we (obviously) did a little bit of the hitting thing. Each taking a turn at jamming against a four wall (Rob isn’t doing contact just yet, give him a few more weeks!). I went first and managed to get through the wall eventually. Pack definition was imaginary, as was the engagement zone, but it worked okay. I felt that the walls were pretty good.

The other big bonus is that it completely distracted me from my worries, so thank you guys/roller derby :-)

 

Questions

The past few weeks have been odd. I’ve not found time for so many things that I want to do, I’ve injured my foot, twice, and last week we broke Chris.

I injured my foot at the gym, with hindsight, from doing a plank exercise. Not a static plank, but one which involves rolling one’s feet on to tip toe. The pain was in the big toe of my left foot, which was swollen and hot. It passed after a few days the first time, though it was remarkably painful at the time, and walking was no fun at all. The second time wasn’t as bad fortunately.

Training has been fairly well attended, eight on skates last week. Unfortunately we broke Chris, our captain. He took a fall, twisted his back and didn’t get up. That put a bit of a downer on the session, of course, and he carted away in anSo, an ambulance was called ambulance. Soft tissue damage – muscular we believe. So he’s off skates for a bit and taking things easy. Speedy recovery Chris!

I feel mixed about my derby skills. My blocking is improving, but my jammer skills seem to be stalled. I’m not sure how to improve them. I’ve also had a big question hanging over me about playing against strong teams. Knights of Oldham invited us over to play against Barrow Infernos. I immediately said that I didn’t feel I was ready. Then low numbers and kind words persuaded me to say that I would play, though I was a little uncomfortable at the thought. Then Chris got injured, so I felt more pressure to play. In the end I found that my son was with me, so I couldn’t make it. Add to that difficulties at home at the moment, leading to lack of sleep, and my brain feels utterly mangled. I just keep reminding myself of the positives in my life…

HARD/B

HARD/B vs York Minxsters

TeamsEnnerdale was the venue for a very close game betweens HARD’s B team and the York Minxsters. It was a relaxed affair and I had chance to catch up with loads of people. A good chat with Fenno who plays for The Inhuman League – we (The Skateful Dead) really do need to get down to Sheffield to train with them some time soon. I said hello to the Minxsters before the game and they seem lovely too. (The Minxsters, like The Dead, are a small team and so I feel an affinity with them. They had a few skaters on loan from Spa Town.)

The teams were very evenly matched, with the lead changing frequently throughout the game. The final score was 199 for Minxsters against 188 for HARD/B. There was just one foul out (Minxsters) near the end of the game.
A quick pint of Black Sheep after the game was very welcome and an opportunity to listen in on the post-game analysis.

A big thank you to Abi for offering a lift from the station, and Katy for providing it. (And then making sure that had a lift back, which Fenno provided in the end.) Much appreciated!

Crazy Season

Today it feels as though the roller derby season is starting in earnest; I send this post from the train on my way over to Hull via Leeds. HARD B are playing York Mixsters in a closed game.

Last Saturday I was in Halifax with the Bruising Banditas covering their game against Liverpool Roller Birds and Sheffield Steel Rollergirls against Furness Firecrackers. These games were among the first to be played as part of the newly formed British Championship. This is the largest interleague tournament in Europe consisting of both women’s and men’s teams. I’m quite pleased to be involved as a photographer and pleased that the organisers don’t seem to have imposed any restrictions on us.

Bruising Banditas vs Liverpool Roller Birds

I’ve seen the Banditas play many times, they are a strong team, but I knew nothing of Liverpool. The first few jams saw the Banditas take the lead and it seemed like a familiar pattern. Then in the seventh jam the Birds came back and drew level, scoring over twenty points in a single jam. From then on the game changed and Liverpool showed themselves to be the stronger team. They took the lead and once that lead was comfortable they were able to push it. The Liverpool walls were effective, wearing out the Banditas jammers. By the second half Faye Tality, traditionally a blocker, was being played as a jammer. The game was played in good spirits and I don’t think penalties were an issue. Liverpool Roller Birds won 259 to 131.

Sheffield Steel vs Furness Firecrackers

This game was only ever going to end in a win for the Firecrackers. They took the lead from the start and extended it throughout the game. I found the game quite difficult to photograph. The packs seemed to stay quite close to one another and so the referees were in front of me. I managed though and continue to spend my free evenings working through the resulting photos. I didn’t realise, though I spoke about it with two people on the day, that this was Sheffield’s A team. I think I’ve only seen the Crucibelles play in the past. I did recognise She-RARR (obviously) and Toulouse Le Threat though. Again, played in really good spirits. Toulouse’s “we are not worthy” worship of Weeble was funny, though I felt that she was a little embarrassed by it. Just one foul out that I’m aware of, one of the Firecrackers. Final score 270 to 54 to Furness.

Training

There were nine of us on track (plus coach and referee). We were pleased to be joined by Miffy Mayhem from the Banditas (they don’t train on the day following games). Miffy was keen to get back on track, annoyed by the loss on Saturday. I spoke to her after the gameon Saturday. They’d been practising three walls but she felt that their flat walls were then not as effective as they needed to be. Richie also joined us again – that’s three weeks in a row.

The drills were good, though I felt it look me a little longer than it should have to get my derby head on and block effectively. We try to scrim every week, an important part of the session, though obviously with small numbers on each side. This is fine though, it was another good session with all working well throughout.

The Works

Monday was the monthly “wheels on feet” event at The Works in Leeds. Good to see some familiar faces. I can’t stay I pushed myself, I hardly fell, didn’t drop in and didn’t grind anything. Soon I hope. I did chat to a few people and hopefully made steps towards setting up a game with one of the local teams fairly soon. A big thank you to Ashleigh for continuing to arrange this event. It’s well attended and improves skate skills – I always encourage Skateful Dead to come along.

Monday

So tomorrow is Monday. We’ll get to work and colleagues will ask if we’ve had a good weekend. I hope you’ll all be able to say “yes” with a big smile on your face.

I’ve had an ace weekend! Friday night and Saturday was PS4 and the Lego Movie with my son. Today was Skateful Dead practice and it was one of the best sessions we’ve had in a while.

The last two weeks have been a combination of low attendance and frustration. Today was a tonic. Coach Gillie was back, Carly was reffing and there were nine of us on track. Most of the session was blocker work. Chris brought some drills with him so we started with those, developing them over the next two and a half hours. Of course, for blocking drills you need jammers. Lawrence and I jammed for much of the session, and I did okay. Loads of good work from everyone. Richie was back with us for the second week – he puts in some solid hits. Or newest skater Jim did some excellent work too. I got called for cutting a few times – thanks Carly – important to know about these in training.

A break towards the end for endurance – yeah! Then a recap on some drills that we’ve been working on over the past few weeks. Queen of the track to finish off.

Buzzing! :-)

Frustration

I found training this weekend particularly frustrating.

Coach Gillie couldn’t make it due to a (non-derby related) injury, but she took the time share the weeks plan with a few of us. Much of the session was reinforcement of the drills we covered last week. (Though it was fresh for many as, you may recall, there were only four of us last week.)

Attendance was better this week, eight skating plus Carly our ref. She was also wearing Gillie’s coaching hat; plenty for her to do. I also noted that everyone managed to find either a black or white top or even both!

I found that I quickly got cross with myself. When I was blocking our walls felt scrappy and the jammer got though too easily. Yet when jamming I seemed to get stuck behind the wall. I often managed to scatter a few from the wall, but we have a few players who are very quick and they recycled and stopped me. I was trying not to be cross, at least not to be outwardly cross, but I failed it seems. Lawrence picked up on it and asked what was up – he’s a love.

I was pleased later in the day when our captain posted a few “You Should be Watching More Roller Derby” clips to our Facebook group. Perhaps he also felt that the walls needed to be better?

This evening I found time to watch more derby and read Mutch Mayhem’s WFTDA profile which has made be feel inspired again. I just need to figure out how to sleep now!

 

four

Last Sunday was our first training session of the new year. It was quiet. Very quiet. There were only 4 of us skating, and Gillie our coach.

Sometimes low attendance sessions can be odd, but this one was great. We did loads of work on blocking, with both forward and backward walls. I found that my backward blocking wasn’t horrendously bad. We also managed to fit in endurance. Given so few of us we all worked pretty much non-stop for the full two and a half hours. Two rounds of “queen of the track” just about finished us all off, and I managed to win the second round!

I tried to do 27 in 5 anti-derby direction at the end, but only managed 24.

A tip of the hat to Phil, Simon and Matt for their hard work and Gillie for adapting your plans so effectively. I’m hoping tomorrow’s (today’s) practice will be better attended.