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

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.)


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.


Yesterday, after an evening out with friends in Leeds, I got a late train home. As I walked down the carriage I recognised a young lady from the days that I used to commute to Leeds. As I got closer to her table, scanning seats and trying to decide where to sit, she moved her bag. It felt like an invitation which I accepted.

“Thank you. I recognise you from the commute?” I said. “Yes,” she replied “you always worked on your netbook. It had your Twitter name on it. You’re Mytholmroyd.”

This surprised me!

When travelling I notice others. I make up stories about them. Nothing detailed, but it’s fun to look at peoples clothes, shoes, reading material, hands, hair and guess what they do. I suppose I fancy myself as a bit of a Holmes :-) But I never considered that others do the same; or if they don’t, that they even notice what is going on around them. To be recognised is really quite flattering, that it is with some level of detail is lovely.

We chatted all the way back to Mytholmroyd, she carried on to Todmorden. As I stood to leave she thanked me for talking to her. How sweet!

It felt very much like we’d been waiting to talk to each other but never had the nerve to do so. I smiled for the rest of the evening and will make more of an effort to talk to people on the train.


I don’t know of a precise way to measure how good a practice session was.

One measure could be how fast the session passes. Our Sunday sessions run from 2.30 to 5pm. It was 4.30 before I realised the time. We’d started with some work on laterals then covered falls and walls for the newer skaters. I’m quite tall, so I’ve been trying to stay really low. I hope I’m getting better at it!

Enjoyment during the session would possibly work, but that’s a bit wishy washy. I enjoy skating so much there is little/no differentiation between sessions. I’ve been suffering a bit of a cold since Friday evening and felt pretty crappy yesterday. I was considering just watching today, but that’s no fun! Anyway, the prospect of skating this afternoon lifted my spirits right from the get go this morning.

It was great to see Careless Santana back on his skates, though (annoyingly, as I was targeting him) he seems not to have lost much ground in the weeks that he’s been away. The newer guys are also rather solid, The Beast and Bilbosaur (is that right Bilb?) both seem impossible to knock over/off track.

We also played a game (did a drill/call it what you will) called “Homewrecker” (from memory). This was ace. I started off paired with Si Clops and Buckingham Malice tried to break us apart for three seconds or more. Some powerful hits from Buckingham, but I was pleased that Si and I managed to pretty much hold him off. (Si took most of the hits :-) )

This week my personal goal was to work on power from my thighs when hitting/blocking. Given that I failed to knock anyone over/off then I’d have to say I have some work to do!! Oh well…

On the way home it occurred to me that I really ache! And that is my benchmark this week – how achy am I? Lots! Really good session guys. Thank you :-)



In this post I’m turning the spotlight on Buckingham Malice.

The weather this weekend just past was the wrong way around for me. Saturday, my park skating day was rainy so I didn’t get out. I mooched around the house pondering the world. The Men’s European roller derby championship had been and gone. Shrooms made it as one of the best blockers. Sausage Roller also launched his “budgie smuggler” group on Facebook and Scooby Zoom seemed to be a hit with his camo leggings.

Both of these guys started their men’s derby careers with The Skateful Dead. Circumstances led to them moving on to bigger teams, though I’m sure that they enjoyed their time with The Dead and this helped to keep them on track.

Enjoying what you do is, in my experience, terribly important. As you may have read in my previous post, I have only recently returned to the track to play competitively. I did so at one of our co-ed scrims. The emphasis at these events is enjoyment. Buckingham Malice goes to great lengths to impress this on players; it is part of the pep-talk before the scrims and it is re-iterated on the day. For this I am grateful.

At practice Buckingham is generous with praise and always happy to help individuals with particular skills. He manages this without being boastful or prescriptive, recognising that people have different skating skills/styles.

He frequently guest skates with bigger teams and, if he wished, would doubtless be welcomed by any team as a player. Yet he continues to skate with The Dead – a real asset to our team – as he shares what he has learnt from others :-)

Thank you Buckingham for getting me into this daft sport, helping me improve and making it so much fun!


A really good practice session this evening.

We welcome a new guy, Tony, to the Skateful Dead – always good to have a new skater. He’s a skateboarder so should take to quads like a duck to water :-)

Roller Blind was back on track with us. He’s been away too long. He doesn’t seem to have lost any of his skills. Still solid. He steered me clean off the track a few times. We also partnered in the chest blocking drill. That went really well, we were quite evenly matched I think. Then I switched to Si-Clops. He’s strong too and has a really neat twist-and-hit move just as you get towards the edge of the track. It kept catching me out – I thought I had a little more room, but no…

Matt, one of our other new skaters is doing well. Just need to keep his balance, but he takes the hits well. He was not easy to keep control of when I was paired with him. Also managed to knock me off balance a few times. Well done.

Bilb was back on skates following recovery time for a knee injury. Glad for him – it’s depressing going to practice and not skating in my experience.

It was a really hard session. With attention divided between different groups each drill ran for some time. The chest blocking drill was really hard work – my shoulders ache now so tomorrow could be interesting.

Good stuff! :-)