Twenty Fourteen

Facebook has, of course, offered to compile a set of images that is supposed to represent a review of the past year. I have passed on that golden opportunity. I offer you, dear reader, a more thoughtful version.

Last Christmas I was suffering the pain of a herniated disc. Such pain that I played “lying down” charades with the children as it was the only way I could find relief. It was a bloody awful Christmas and in January I declared that I would be quitting roller derby. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and stay there. But derby friends immediately came to my rescue and said that I should still be involved, NSOing or refereeing. Well, with hind sight, “being involved” was never really going to stay that way. In mid February I saw an MSK specialist who reassured me.

By March I was back on track. I was at back at practice, though taking it careful. I also took out a year gym membership, to build core strength to better support by back and hopefully prevent repeat injury. I’d been encouraged to swim to help my back but I found that it made my back hurt – I don’t do front crawl, which is what I should have been doing. I also found that fitting in swim and gym was consuming a fair bit of my free time.

A long weekend around my birthday in April gave me time to think, and skate lots. The atmosphere at work had changed substantially and not in a good way. These two strands in my life seemed to be saying that I needed to kick myself in the arse if I expected change. So I set my mind to improve my fitness level and to find a new job. Shit!

May saw Skateful Dead’s third co-ed scrim. I wasn’t skating by then, though I note that the training session at the end of the month was particularly good. By the end of May I had found a new job. I started at the end of June, so had a month read up on the technology I’d be using. I was too busy to write, though did manage to fit in some derby photography, which included a trip up to Scotland with Hull’s Angels.

My new place of work is Bradford, so the commute is half the time. Some flexibility in start/finish times also helps greatly with the trains. I clearly recall going for a run one fine evening and bumping into Leeds commuters arriving on the late train that I used to get. That extra free time has allowed me to fit in gym sessions after work and still get home at a reasonable time. The job is going really well. I finished my first project in reasonable time and it’s been well received. The current project involves phased releases as it’s pretty big. I getting to use some agile programming techniques and they are working well. Very happy at work now.

August was the Men’s European Derby Championship, held in Newcastle. But for me the bigger event was our co-ed scrim. I felt that I was safe to play and I loved it. I got to skate with some amazing skaters including four from HARD, some from LRD and a few from Scotland who happened to be in Newcastle but nipped down for the scrim. It was a confidence booster that I feel everyone needs from time to time.

Over the summer holiday we (The Skateful Dead) seem to ‘lose’ a few regulars. They haven’t moved on to skate with other teams, they’ve just become too busy to make it to training. One session there were just four of us. Numbers seem to have improved recently, last week we had ten – enough to scrim. Gillie, our coach, and Phil, one of our skaters got married in October. They also took time off to prepare for that. We managed without, as you do, but a coach is an important person on the team.

In September I had opportunity to get on my aggressive (in-line) skates again. A group, which seems to be led by LRD skaters, had arranged a “skaters only” session at The Works in Leeds. It’s an indoor skate park. I’ve been there three or four times now and I’ve found that it’s really helping with my jumping and transitions. I highly recommend giving it a go.

During September/October I had a row of five weekends where I was doing something “derby” every weekend. The biggest of these was a trip over to Dublin with HARD. Crazy flight times, little sleep, grumpy photographer and a jolly minibus trip. All the fun!

After the flurry of activity, November seemed quiet. I managed to get some development time in on my Penalty Timer app, incorporating changes that became apparent during use. I was excited by the prospect of Christmas too, and put my tree up at the end of November.

December brought a well attended Skateful Dead co-ed in which I took part, followed by a trip over to Hull. Photography for both the A and B teams then the HARD Christmas party. A really good start to the Christmas period.

Photography

It is also little over a year since I first did photos for Hull’s Angels, covering a closed scrim against The Crucibelles. Since then I’ve been over to Hull quite a few times, down to Nottingham, up to Scotland and even over to Ireland. The journey to Scotland was pivotal in my getting to know them better. We travelled by coach from/to Hull, so plenty of time to chat/listen to chatter. Dublin too was so lovely. I felt very much part of the team there. I’ve covered eleven games/events with the Angels this year and a handful of others in amongst. Looking at data from my camera I see that in over the past twelve months I’ve taken over 28,500 photos

Thank you

There are too many people to thank individually for all the lovely things that have happened this year. I do though want to name a few whose actions and support have drawn me further into the derby community and made the year such fun. First, Carly and Lawrence for not letting me quit in January when that’s all I wanted to do. Second, Danni, Julia and Abi for getting/keeping me involved with Hull’s Angels through which I’ve met many skaters and travelled more than ever.

So much love for the roller derby community!

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Christmas Angels

Last Sunday I was in my ‘tog role with Hulls Angels. We had two home games, HARD B vs Barnsley Black Heart Rollers then HARD vs Team Metal Legs.
I received a lovely welcome from so many people, not just the Angels but others too. I got to meet Martha Scarkill in real life, looking amazing with black goth lips. I had quite a long chat with Peacock too, one of the rockstars in roller derby.

Martha ScarkillHARD B vs Barnsley Black Heart Rollers

I think this was the first time that I’ve seen the B team play. The teams were evenly matched, the score remaining close through out the game and the lead changing often.
In trying to get at least one photo of all of the players (it doesn’t always happen) I occasionally notice patterns in play. I was particularly impressed by Harmony Havoc’s level of work as a blocker – non-stop! The final score was HARD B 103 to Black Hearts 113.

HARD vs Team Metal Legs

EspionageThis was always going to be a difficult game to call. A well drilled HARD against a collection of top skaters. Team Metal Legs is made up of players who have suffered serious injuries (through playing derby I believe) but have worked through them to play again. They are both experienced players and they don’t quit. From the start Metal Legs were strong and maintained a small lead up to half time. I wondered if HARD would come back in the second half, but Metal Legs extended their lead. The game finished HARD 133 to Metal Legs 211.

I spotted some really good recycling by Dane-ish and beautiful track clearance by Dr Blockson. Dolly Dimps played (in both games) with such determination; in one of the jams she was getting pounded by TML but just kept on jumping up and trying again. Good work!

I feel that I say this every time, but it’s worth repeating. The friendly banter on track between players of both teams is a joy to witness. During time outs especially there are hugs and laughter. When the whistle blows the game faces go on, as they should, but skaters care for each other. I noted that Jo Mean got a good hit on an opposing skater but when the jam finished to found her and made sure that she was okay :-)

PARTY!

From the arena I walked on to Union Mash Up for the HARD Christmas party. Arriving early with Stab and Dave (who doesn’t have a derby name!) and helped set up. Great venue, we were upstairs, with our own music which wasn’t so too loud. Perfect when you want to talk derby. Got to catch up with Jenna, who’s now skating with HARD. Italian food from the place next door, good food and generous portions. Then it was Secret Santa. I’d sat out of this as it’s difficult to buy for people unless you know them. At the end however I found that I was the centre of attention. Pixel Vixen presented me with a present and card from HARD! A Very Secret Santa, most unexpected but a wonderful surprise, thank you all so much!

I’d dug out an old Christmas quiz (from 2008) and was pleased that people took part. Very impressed that one of the teams got all of the music questions right (Holly Sheet). A tie for first place, a bottle of wine each. Some dancing there (not me, I don’t dance) before a handful heading back in to town. I found myself at Propaganda. Before too long Iron Giant had dragged everyone, myself included, on to the dance floor – she may be small but she’s crazy strong. Some good tunes and then we decided to have a little bit of a play on the pole (dancing) to the side of the room. Didn’t make a complete tit of myself, so it was all good :-)

It’s just a short walk from there to Trinity Hostel, which is looking great.

An excellent weekend.

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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!

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