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World Wide Derby Domination

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Slow Evolution of International Derby

Posted by hooligal on May 21, 2009

Bar a few months last year, I realised that I’ve been skating in England for over a year.  My league had been bouting away games here and there in that time, but we have only just launched our first home inter-league season here in London.

The evolution of derby abroad seems a bit slower then that of American counterparts, for many different factors. Venues are hard to secure, the sport is new so no one has herd of it, and training is done with no previous experience, just a lot of internet research.

England, compared to my homeland of Canada, is a small country. A small country with a hell of a lot of people. A Lot of people who don’t play hockey.  So normal venues I’m used to (hockey arenas in the summer) just aren’t available here. Big, open, skateable areas are either non existent or extravagantly expensive. Due to the cramming of millions of people in a small place, buildings are built with the idea of conserving space. In a country where their major sport is played on grass, there is just no need for many places that would be ideal for derby…cause you just can’t skate on a football pitch! I hear about many leagues internationally having problems finding appropriate areas to house their practices and bouts, which will definitely hinder your growth as a league and expend a lot of energy, stress and phone credit.

Once you find a home, you need skaters! Leagues, American or not, go through the growing pains of begging their friends, family and co-workers to join this amazing sport, and some staying or leaving. Recruitment outside a social circle rarely takes off until after a first public bout. However in America you have many leagues making both local and nationwide media coverage, everything from music videos, commercial adverts, talk shows, game shows to your traditional news media forms. The media is intrigued by an old sport making a new comeback. People hear about it and they want to join, and they will actively seek out their local league.  However in places like England or Germany, the sport never existed here. It’s completely new, and that can be a disadvantage to creating initial interest. The sport has to build its own following from scratch, which can be a longer process.

Then we have training. In Canada and America it’s usually not a very far drive to a well experienced league. Training and coaching tips are shared, bootcamps are well attended and it snowballs to improve athleticism at a rapid pace. Overseas you will have the chance that maybe an experienced player will be vacationing and want to come visit your league. My league has been going for two years, and when they started they had to not only learn to skate and play the game, but also teach others to do the same. To women who are neither coaches or technically trained athletes, it was a daunting task. Now two years down the line we have honed and defined many skills in teaching fresh meat, and the pace that they learn things now is much faster then fresh meat who learned a year ago. Leagues receiving training help from experienced skaters grow and evolve far more quickly, and it seems only one in Europe has had much help and has far surpassed other leagues.

There are many things that hinder and slow the development of the sport abroad, besides venues, publicity, and training, small cultural factors may also play a part…for example in Canada skating (though mostly on ice) is a national past time. Not so much here. Language barriers may be stopping non-english speaking countries from learning the rules, or about the sport at all. Germany and French Canada seem to be the only ones, but I know that many members of leagues in both those countries speak English.

Nevertheless, derby always seems to persevere. It may take a couple more years for the sport to grow here, for leagues to be large enough to have full intra league seasons. We may have to practice in small venues. And we may have to find new and exciting ways to catch the media’s eye, but we will do it. This year saw my league’s first season, Europes first tournament, and new leagues popping up all over the world every day.  Next step: World Wide Derby Domination!!!!

Oh, an American leagues…feel free to spread your knowledge to your international sisters by paying us a visit! 😉

Posted in Random Reads | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

International Fresh Meat

Posted by hooligal on September 10, 2008

I got sent a link today to another international blog (please, send them my way!), which was unique to other blogs I’ve seen. An anonymous fresh meat skater from New Zealand is recounting her experiences from day one of joining derby. It’s been a couple of years now since I’ve been fresh meat, and it’s great to go back to the day where getting my first set of pads was an electric experience. And of course its 100% international, hey hey!
So check it out! Pads ‘n’ All – The Confessions of a Skater Girl

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Roller Blitz Old Skool Roller Disco in Birmingham, UK

Posted by Fury on May 20, 2008


Sweet, sweet Brummie Roller SkatingThe UK has a thriving roller disco scene and now Birmingham is about to revitalise the beloved roller disco locally and polish it to a mirror-ball shine. The Roller Blitz event promises to bring the joy of eight on the floor to a new audience, showcase Britain’s VIP jam skaters, and give the rest of us an excuse to dust of our skates for a groovy alternative way to fitness. 

The floor has bags of room for everyone, there will be games and a raffle. Besides, there’s little else this fun that donates a portion of the profits to Cancer UK. Set your supersonic sights on B4 7ES and come skate with us!


Posted in Announcements, Press, Random Reads, United Kingdom, Updates/Intros | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

A Guide for the Derby Widow

Posted by Fury on April 8, 2008

So, fellas, and some lucky ladies, your partner has joined the derby.  You thought it would be fun for your woman to pick up a new sport, and now you sit in a house full of sexy hosiery wondering when you will see your partner again.  This is a challenging time fraught with confusion and loneliness.  Know that you are not alone.  The mourning process is real.  Every widow’s experience is unique, but you may recognise the following: 

  1. Denial – Many of us are ashamed to admit that early in the derby widow experience, it is actually exciting.  Suddenly, it’s ok to watch a mass of women in short skirts plow into each other without turning off the internet browser filter. Your home is often filled with your wife’s hot, hilarious teammates.  Your lover’s fitness is advancing at an astonishing rate, she’s taken over changing tyres, and she seems to have found an inexplicable comfort with firearms.  When she drags you to the local all-night roller disco, you beam with pride at her skating skills.
  2. Anger- It’s 9:30 p.m. and you haven’t seen Madamoiselle de Derby since yesterday.  The house is littered with skates or wristguards that smell like week-old roadkill that previously subsisted on a diet of limburger.  She’s spending all her time doing ‘tracking stats’, writing ‘line-ups’ or glued to some message board discussing the merits of taping make-up sponges to her blisters.  Then, when you slump off to the pub to drown your sorrows with your mates, she rolls in two hours after you, red-faced and laughing about the ‘after party’. 
  3. Bargaining – You are a product of the modern age, no?  You can handle this if she’ll just give in a bit. But your attempts to keep Wednesdays for ‘us’ time and coax her to take the summer hols somewhere where she can’t visit a local league just aren’t making it go away. 
  4. Sadness – You miss her.  It’s common to experience ‘What if’ questions at this stage, like ‘What if I had just encouraged her to join something more delicate, like street fighting or kendo instead?’
  5. Acceptance – Hard as it may be to understand this, you will eventually learn to embrace your roller derby girl.  You may start to realise that your mates crowd around with anticipation to hear about the latest pile-up at practice, that when you finally watch a bout it feels like your first rock concert, or that you’ve tried on the referee stripes and have developed a taste of your own for the track.  The women of the roller derby are a rare breed who will find the derby with or without you.  All you can do is thank the derby goddesses above, and start on that sign for the next bout.

For more to soothe your soul, visit Birmingham’s own original roller derby league at  Better yet, come to our next bout on the 12th of April at Cocks Moors Leisure Centre and see what the obsession is about.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m and the action starts at 7:00.  Tickets now available online.

Written by “Helen Fury”, #10 Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames, and approved by my own dear derby widow.



Posted in Announcements, B'ham Blitz Derby Dames, Bouts/Recaps, Press, Random Reads, United Kingdom | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Campaign for Real Booty!

Posted by hooligal on April 5, 2008

I stumbled across a blog the other day and to my great enjoyment found on of the coolest derby projects I’ve seen yet: The Campaign for Real Booty! Found on and equally cool blog Big Derby Girls Don’t Cry. Profiled each week is a roller girl with healthy gams ‘n’ glutes. I submitted a few pictures and was accepted immedietly *no suprise*. Check it out!


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Training with the Tri-City Roller Girls

Posted by hooligal on March 4, 2008


I had the pleasure this weekend past, of being invited to the nearby city of Kitchner, Ontario, Canada (for those of you who don’t know, I’m in Canada right now) to have a skate and a laugh with the newly formed Tri-City Roller Girls. Skaters from all the nearby leagues came out: Hammer City Roller Girls, Gore Gore Girls from Toronto Roller Derby, and the Thames Fatales from London, Ontario.

TCRG is already off to an amazing start. Brand spankin’ new this year, they already have more then enough girls to start two teams, and an impressive audience just at their practices! They’ve also caught the attention of the local news media, who are following them from humble beginings, to their first bout. Already making a splash in the community at such a young age, this league surely will go far. And did I mention they can skate? In the short span of about four or five practices, some of these ladies have gone from holding the boards while shuffling along, to skating in their first non-contact scrimmage!

I arrived a bit early for practice, and was taken to Deathrow Beth’s home for their usual pre-practice league potluck breakfast, where I had the pleasure of trying a Grapple, which is a grape flavoured apple (google it). Highlight of my morning! LOL. We soon set off in a convoy to the arena where they practice, which was so nicely NOT heated in the midst of a Canadian winter. Ever seen girls skating in parkas and scarves? It’s quite a sight! Stepping onto their smooth polished concrete, I was in heaven. It was the best skating surface I’ve ever been on, slick and hard for speed, but so amazingly grippy I had to invent new ways of stopping. We started with the usual warm up, then split into groups lead by girls from the already established leagues such as Toronto and Hammer City. My group focused on teaching stopping, whist other groups worked on falls and other basic skills the TCRG are learning at this point.

We then split into ‘black’ shirts and ‘colored’ shirts for a scrimmage, starting with the experienced girls so we could show the new girls a scrimmage live and in person. Well, someone forgot to tell me the ‘no contact’ thing until after I took out the jammer. Oops!  Then the no contact thing served a real purpose as the TCRG girls stepped in to try their hand, shuffling and bumping in their very first scrimmage! It’s like watching a child ride a bike for the first time, makes me a bit teary-eyed. *sniffle* Anyway, one of my personal highlights was a girl in orange who’s name escapes me. She jammed for her very first time against one of the girls from the other leagues, and wow, was she fast! She at one point caught up, and over took, the other jammer! Asking around, I found out that it was only her SECOND practice! Amazing!

Overall I was so impressed and excited with the practice. There’s somthing invigorating about a new league, innocent in their youth, untainted by commitee meetings, bout stress, and general derby drama. At this point, all that exists is a passion for roller derby, skating, and being around kick-ass ladies. Keep your eye out for the Tri-City Roller Girls, they might be coming to your city to kick your leagues ass sooner then you think!

click to enlarge photos
TCRG lines up!
Yours truely takes a block from a Gore Gore Girl
TCRG girl is all smiles as she makes her way past Ivy Rupted
Showing some roller love
TCRG are coming to kick your butt! 😛

Posted in canada, Random Reads, Tri-City Roller Girls | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

B’ham Dames ♥ Leeds Dolls ith Tough Love

Posted by Fury on February 23, 2008

February 2008

Goddess bless the great British privatised motorway services.  The dingy grey roadside affairs of my youth, featuring bolted-on wooden prison toilet seats, have been replaced with gleaming outposts that sell cappuccino.  Sure, a sandwich and coke will set you back the price of roast Sunday lunch provisions for five, but as I was soaking up the early morning sun in a comfortable café off the M42, I could hardly be bothered about such things.   Today the Blitz Dames were headed out on a derby-filled road trip to Leeds. 

The Leeds Roller Dolls are one of the many newer roller derby leagues who have come together blaze track in this country. In the true cooperative spirit of DIY roller derby, they had helped the Blitzdames earlier in the weekend with a generous loan of equipment for a BBDD sports session with the University of Birmingham Rugby team.  So, the ‘Dames were delighted to accept the invitation to work with their roller sisters in LRD on some derby training collaboration. The enthusiasm was mutual, as the entirety of Leeds Roller Dolls had just gotten kitted out in full protective gear in anticipation of the day’s hard knocks to come.  What a great attitude!

The LRD’s head trainer, John Kirkham (an accomplished jam skater), started the session with a knackering quick-manoever warm-up drill.  The BBDD then took the lead with derby-specific stretches to loosen everyone up, and garner a few smiles as we displayed our lack of modesty (just tell me that stretch doesn’t look like a stripper).  One of BBDD’s top blockers, Bee Bentley, continued the session as she helped the Leeds ladies take the sheen off their pads with a barrage of falling drills.  Falling safely -with proper equipment!- is the best protection against injury; so it was important to make falling technique even more automatic that snapping up knee high socks in your team colours.  Having spent some quality time hitting the leisure center floor, the training progressed through all the derby action we could pack into two hours.  The focus included pack skills, endurance work, and whips (demonstrated by the agile Violet Attack).

The rock hard women of Leeds took everything BBDD dished out, including press-ups for getting out of pack formation, and the occasional surprise meeting with immovable surfaces.  During one of the rare breaks in the action, the LRD stylishly produced jaffa cakes to keep the masses fueled. By the last conditioning exercise, smiles mixed readily with grimaces of pain.

Afterwards everyone shared a huge Mexican restaurant table where the burritos were solidly lackluster, but the company couldn’t have been better.  The Leeds Roller Dolls are dedicated skaters who –like the first modern women’s roller derby leagues in Texas- are undaunted by their newness to the sport.   LRD even make it an advantage, by exploring creative solutions unencumbered by needing to follow established protocols.  Both of our leagues learned useful tips from each other’s experiences, and too soon it was time to head home. Like the outbound trip, spending time with BBDD mates made the return journey finish in a flash.  It was fab to ‘wreck and roll’ with the Leeds women and we look forward to future training field trips, and other potential collaborative projects with them later this year.


Helen Fury 

#10 Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames 

Posted in B'ham Blitz Derby Dames, Leeds Roller Dolls, Random Reads, United Kingdom | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

No Derby, No Cry

Posted by Fury on January 30, 2008

Ahh, supposedly today is the most miserable day of the year.  Even though this designation is most likely the result of a large British media conglomerate with little else to report on 21 January, they may have a point.  Particularly for the hard working derby girl, the burning question of how to elevate one’s mood when away from the track and facing weather too grey to hit the local pavement is a prominent one. Sure – sleeping, eating, a few moments with the long-suffering derby widow and a job to fund all that skating gear cover most of the time; but such pursuits bring one no closer the type of self-actualisation available when kicking ass on skates.

Fear not, a little rain and a closed practice space need not ruin your mood.  You can get your derby fix on the off days and improve your game besides with any of the following:

 «    Train.  It’s good for your game, good for your head, and is one of the biggest factors in injury prevention.  Press-ups, squats, ankle exercises, biceps, sit-ups, pilates, stretching, dancing: your league trainers are full of ideas if you want them.  Or better yet, organise some off-skates pain and have your roller sisters join in.  This is a competitive sport and only suffering will give you a competitive edge.

«    Follow your bliss, and help your league.  Ever wanted to be involved in design?  Are you itching to show off skills with spreadsheets?  Have a desire to be a web mistress?  Been dreaming of sewing up a referee corset, but just couldn’t find your audience?  Even if you don’t want to take the responsibility of a committee position, the league has a place for you to improve or show of a skill that you’ve always wanted to do.  Just ask!

«    Get involved with your community.  Many leagues have benefiting the community as a core value, and you may find a group that would be an excellent partner.

«    Get your gear in shape.  Have you been rolling around on the same bearings for a year without maintenance?  Does your helmet slip backwards?  Do your pads smell like a pickled skunk?  Discover the zen of tightening, cleaning, and oiling.

«    Help out a roller sister.  Check the boards, get involved with questions, invite a friend to see what kind of mad fun you are up to every weekend.

«    Of course, you could drool over the socks and wheels you want when that next bit of disposable cash comes along.  But as I’m sure you’re doing that anyway, why don’t you write a blog for your league?

Much derby love,

Helen Fury

#10 Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames

Training Director and General League Lackey

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I’m Dreaming of Dry and Smooth Concrete

Posted by hooligal on January 26, 2008

Challenges in the International Derby World

Aside from being cut off from the American roller derby world, there are a few challenges I’ve noticed that face an English roller derby league and their skaters. Along with learning how to build a league from the ground with virtually no help from outside sources, they then have to teach their skaters, find practice space, and raise awareness of their newly acquired sport, the likes of which the international world has never seen before. Roller Derby in past days was purely a North American phenomenon, and never reached the shores of England, Germany, Australia, and other places until now.

Coming from Canada, the hockey capital of the world, I’ve taken for granted the vast number of hockey arenas that sit open waiting for derby girls to fill them during the summer months. Not to mention there’s always ball hockey spaces, because Canadians will find any way to play hockey, even without skates! Here in England, where there is no or little snow or ice, hockey is just not a popular sport. Football (soccer) is the game here, but you cannot play roller derby on a football pitch! So finding practice space large enough to house at least a track has proved difficult. We have practiced in very small school gyms and halls, the largest being vast enough to hold a track, but only so much so that we are smashing each other up into the walls. This still leaves us the problem of finding bout venues! The London Roller Girls have found one of passable size, but still have to turn fans away due to lack of capacity. Which seems good, in terms of saying that your bout was sold out, but really, that could be that many more people whom could have seen roller derby!

Furthermore there is the sheer expense of paying for our practice space, in one of the most expensive and crowded cities in the world. Our league dues cover it, and we scrape by, but I can only think of how much more space leagues in the arenas of Canada for a fraction of the cost. Then we also have to pay outrageous transport fees for the tube (subway), train, or petrol if you are driving. London is a very large city and our skaters are dotted from one end of it to another. From where I stay (in a suburb of London called Staines) it costs me £10 to get a travelcard, which will get me both to and from practice. That’s $20 American! Every practice! And then it takes about an hour and a half to get there. Almost the same if you’re driving through London traffic.

So I don’t go to midweek practices. I can’t afford it and it’s much too far. I figure, I can skate outside during the week, its free, its local, and I don’t have to listen to a coach (I’m notorious for not listening to the coach, hehe). But wait, there’s problems there too! Again I have taken for granted something from my homeland of Canada: smooth and dry concrete! England is famous for its rain. Even in the winter whilst I think there is no snow and that’s a good thing skating wise, it rains almost every day. Or looks like its about to any minute. Or has earlier and the pavement is still wet. The days that it is dry enough to skate, there is another problem: the sidewalks, roads and parking lots are made of what looks like gravel stuck in cement. Very rocky, not smooth, and never, ever even. In a semi-smooth parking lot you will still find huge dips, bumps and mounds. And I’m not just making a mountain out of a molehill here, they are some seriously bad conditions!

Looking for local skating, my team-mate Margy Bargy and I did find a fairly nice path down by the river Thames. However, upon skating down it, we ran into patches that are nothing but large dips and bumps. Even further down the path we ran into a dirt path. End of the road. These are the conditions we have to skate in here.

Hyde Park seems to apparently be one of the only good places to skate in though, in the summer when its nice out. You can get the whole league out and have a picnic. I’ve never been there though, it’s too damn far and not worth the journey until the weather is a bit nicer.

However, they say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. All the obsticles that derby girls here have to face never hinders them from their reason for being. More and more leagues are popping up all over the UK, and around the world, in places that have never seen derby in any form before. They each face unique roadblocks and isolation from experienced leagues to help them. And yet they pull though. Why do they do it? For the love of derby of course!

Still, I wish I could find some smooth, dry concrete!

Here’s a video I made about…pavement..yea thats right..pavement. 

Posted in Random Reads, United Kingdom, Videos | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »