Bristol Harbour Harlots A vs. Manchester Checker Broads, 21st June 2014
On a sweltering June day Bristol Roller Derby pulled an audience of over 250 to this bout, the second of a double header event, which followed a victory in the Harlots previous game against Portsmouth. Unfortunately, despite working hard throughout the play the home team could not bring in a win for the largely home crowd in the face of an unrelenting onslaught from Manchester, with a final score line of 188 to 299.
The bout was fast paced with both teams attacking from the off. The first couple of jams saw points racking up quickly for both sides and plenty going on to entertain the fans. But by Jam 7, less than 10 minutes in Manchester had double the points of Bristol at 21-45 and this differential in the score line was never really recovered. Smack Mamba and Vic Tori Bee were both irrepressible forces, highly skilled, fast and seemingly with endless energy. Towards the end of the first half the Bristol defense was looking less than solid against the opposition’s jammers. By the break the score was 77 – 156.
From the start of the second half the Bristol defense looked to have firmed up; Raven Lunatic was continuing to make good plays and get points on the board, also notable work from Til Thrillster – it was clear that the Harlots were not going to be easily deterred from their pursuit. But if anything Vic Tori Bee had raised her game up a notch – displaying a particularly fearless line in jumping the defense – and the Checker Broads demonstrated clear control over the running of the bout. Both teams were racking up points but the gap was not going to be closed, despite an immensely spirited effort in the closing 5 minutes from Bristol. In Jam 19 Gremlyn piled on a quick succession of points with some very skilful skating and TH followed in the next jam but with only a minute to go this game was not going to be turned. All worked hard and the bout was certainly an exciting one for the audience – future bouts not to be missed if this is the level of play and skill that is going to be in evidence.
By Nicola Waterworth
Experiencing Roller Derby
Awestruck, bewildered, excited, confused… that’s right, I’ve been to my first Roller Derby bout.
After getting completely lost – the 5 minute walk from Bristol Parkway took me about 45 minutes… I seriously considered jumping a stream and a fence at one point – I made it to the venue. Inside I was welcomed by friendly organisers who were happy to explain the rules, and promised cake and beer at half-time. I made my way towards the sports hall, still feeling disorientated after trekking around in the heat.
I stepped through the door, and my bewilderment skyrocketed. The hall was filled with roaring fans, blaring music, live commentary and of course a bunch of women whizzing around on roller skates randomly slamming into one another. I sidled into a spare seat and tried to compose myself, to acclimatise. Just figure out what was going on in a calm, logical manner.
By the end of the first half I still didn’t have a clue. Although I’d been given a leaflet with rules in it I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the spectacle unfolding on the track. In a way being oblivious to what the referees’ whistles meant, the helmet patterns, the resets, and even how on earth the scoring works, didn’t matter. It was like watching some rare, flamboyant, mysterious sporting species coming together for a punky ritual/celebration. I loved it.
The skaters were incredible and had amazing energy considering the game consists of skating in circles and crashing into one another, again and again… and again. By the second half I was beginning to appreciate the tactics of the ‘blockers’, linking up to present a solid defense and using each other for balancing support. The ‘jammers’ were also unbelievable. Getting past four blockers was not an easy task! Sometimes it was a matter of quick agility and distraction, and sometimes it was like they had to wade through treacle. Then a quick lap of the track and it all began again.
I also felt very proud for noticing Bristol do a bit of a switcheroo (not sure if that’s the technical term) with the hat things. The ‘pivot’ breezed past the Manchester blockers, taking them completely by surprise!
The outfits were extremely entertaining and added to the fun atmosphere. Skaters showed off their superhero pants, face paint, checkered socks, and either hilarious or confusing shirt names (I particularly liked no. 5 – Gogo Chanel, with a matching helmet).
I think the final score came to Harlots: 188, Manchester: 299. But the refreshing thing about this sport is that the score seems secondary to having a good time. At the end of the bout the whole audience got a high-speed-high-5 from the skaters, and the emphasis was less on the winners than on the after party.
Overall, I am definitely going to be back for more. Roller Derby makes for a great day out – a bizarre, entertaining and memorable experience. Go Harlots!
By Susie East
To find out more go to: http://www.bristolrollerderby.com/
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