Friends

Last Saturday I had a lovely afternoon/evening with roller derby friends.

Manchester Roller Derby had arranged a scrimmage with a mixture of players from various local teams, including MRD, Skateful Dead, Old Knights and another team I think, though quite who escapes me. I said that I would NSO.

On the Friday evening my sciatic injury was killing me and I really didn’t fancy doing anything over the weekend. I messaged Carly and asking if I could get out of doing it. Then later, in a different conversation Tony O said that he was unable to make it. He was also going to NSO, but is always generous enough to give me a lift. I scrapped my request to skip out of going and set about trying to find a lift. The best I could find was with Lawrence and Carly. Lawrence was playing in the scrimmage and so they were going out for drinks afterwards. I wasn’t sure about that – again because my leg gets painful after a while and lying down is the only way to relieve that pain.

They picked me up a bit after three and we drove over to Manchester. We talked about roller derby all the way there and it was great. Lawrence plays for The Skateful Dead and Carly referees for us. It was so good to talk through my injury worries and how I could remain part of the team without playing.

The scrimmage was good. Lots of big blockers, some skinny jammers (how Jim Jams didn’t get snapped into little pieces I don’t know) and plenty of big hits. I was the token bloke in the team of seven NSOs and six(?) referees. I did penalty box timing again.

After the scrim it was a short drive to The Courtyard in Manchester. Near Oxford Road, it’s a student place with cheap food and drink – £2.50 for a pint of Black Sheep! It was crowded so we decided to eat elsewhere and ended up in Revolution. Lawrence treat me to the meal – thank you very much. After the drive home I think it was around half eleven.

A massive thank you to Carly and Lawrence, not only for the lift and food but for helping me get my head straight about roller derby. My focus now is to get into refereeing (an idea suggested by Pulp Bitchin who plays for Wakey Wheeled Cats).

(An addendum. I couldn’t make it to training and the team meeting on Sunday, but had a lovely message from Gillie saying that the team was keen for me to carry on with them and that I could perhaps do bench during scrimmages. Also that just doing non-contact stuff during practice is fine.)

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Fin

On Sunday I went to a fun skate. I took my beloved in-line skates as I’ve not used them for ages. For the whole of the session I was in pain. I could hardly do anything that I used to be able to do. After two hours I headed back home. As I hobbled over the bridge from the station there was an old man coming the other way with a walking stick. He was grey, in hair and complexion, in his sixties I suppose, and yet he looked more sprightly than me. I was so depressed.

This lead to days (and nights) of mental turmoil.

The Skateful Dead

An effective derby team is at least 14 players that are committed to the team. If I thought that I could give this then I would just be taking a break. I have come to realise that contact sports and the injuries that they bring are beyond what I consider acceptable. If I ever make a full recovery then I will fear injury in future. Practice is fun, but it’s with friends and there is an understanding that we shouldn’t injure one another (it doesn’t always work!). But when bouting it’s all out hitting. Some of the players are big, I’m not.

Rock Stars

Roller derby players have something of a rock-star status. However, the rock-star status only works when you’re a player. If you’re a hobbling cripple you lose that status.

Community

The derby community is the most inclusive community that I have come across. I enjoy being part of it. Hopefully this will continue, perhaps through photography and NSO duties.

Wheels on my feet!

I fell in love with skating almost ten years ago. Roller derby has taught me new skills and made me realise that I still have a great deal to learn. But in under a year of playing I’ve been transformed from being able to skate in the park for six hours every weekend and run 5km a few times a week to being unable to do either of these, being in pain nearly all of the time and relying on painkillers every day to control that pain. I don’t want this.

So it is with some sadness that I have decided that I am going to quit playing roller derby.

I wish The Skateful Dead every success. I’m proud that I’ve represented the team in some small way. If I can help in future then I will of course – as noted above, I’m quite handy with a camera.

Thank you for fun times!

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