Roller derby is more popular than ever. This USA-born sport has crossed the ocean and Europe’s hosting her very first WFTDA sanctioned roller derby tournament right next door, in the London ExCel Exhibition Centre. Organised by the London Rollergirls, this weekend was filled with derbysweets ’n yummiez. 6 bouts over 2 days, London Rollergirls (UK) vs Charm City Roller Girls from Baltimore (US) vs New Skids On The Block from Montreal (Canada) vs Steel City Derby Demons from Pittsburgh (US), all-in one weekend, what more can a derbygirl ask for?
Saturday morning, 3.30 AM, the alarm goes off and I forget to re-set the snooze-button. So, at 4.45 AM, I wake up, thinking I should’ve been at the carpool in Antwerp already. Thanks to Wham! Bam! Wonterjam!, who coordinated this early-panic-moment, I arrived safely at the meeting-spot. This is a typical C.C. Titmouse-mistake. We risked missing the ferry because of me, so as Lolli Chop would say: “CHOP CHOP TITMOUSE”! ;-). Luckily for me, we still made it in time to the ferry, otherwise I’d get lynched on the spot. I had to buy the first coffees, since I was the evil ‘late bloomer’, but hey, I can take it ;-). Once we arrived in London, nothing could hold us back. We were excited AS F*CK!! Except for the driving-on-the-left side-part :0. Haha, every time we came across a round about or a car passing us at the right side, the whole car got crazy. Fortunately, Lolli Chop’s quite the “chillax” driver, so we got to the ExCel Exhibition Centre safe and sound.
The schedule for the upcoming weekend was the following:
Sat. 9th of April
01PM: Bout 1 – London vs Montreal
03PM: Bout 2 – Steel City vs Charm City
07PM: Bout 3 – Montreal vs Steel City
09PM: After party at the Fox Pub
Sun. 10th of April
12PM: Bout 4 – London vs Charm City
04PM: Bout 5 – Charm City vs Montreal
06PM: Bout 6 – London vs Steel City
And oh were we ready to see some action! It was quite hard to find good seating, since the place was packed with derbygirls! We sold our VIP-tickets to Miss Miyagi of the Gent GO-GO Roller Girls, so they got to sit in comfy “seatingbags” (with waitresses!). There were 7 of us and we wanted to sit together, rather than to split up the group into VIP- & non-VIP’rs. But hey, we were happy to sell them. They’ll need to pamper their tush, since we’re planning on kicking theirs, someday soon ;-).
Enough with the intro, let’s talk some action!
Day one: the 9th of April
No delays today! We entered the ExCel Exhibition Centre and were happy to pass all the yummy food- and derbymerch stands. The place was packed even way before the game started, so we had to squeeze ourselves between other derbyfanatics to be able to enjoy the show!
- Bout 1: London vs MontrealI literally had goosebumps alloverwhen I heard the first whistle go off. Although I didn’t start outhaving a favourite team, the New Skids On The Block sure know how to turn heads. With their flashy, fluo, 90’s-feel team colours, they instantly came across as being the ultimate underdog of this tournament. First jam was for Iron Wrench (whoquickly became my favourite jammer of this tournament) and wow, ‘quelle vitesse’! Great agility, very quick and impressive to watch! Unfortunately for London, Montreal was the better team of this bout. Their strategic play earned them a slammin’ 137 vs. 57-victory!
- Bout 2: Steel City vs Charm CityMan, USA sure knows how to play roller derby. This bout
was very tight indeed, they both took turns leading the scoreboard, but in the end Charm City claimed the winners title. Steel City’s Snot Rocket Science & Hurricane Heather jammed most of the point onto that scoreboard. For me, Joy Collision and Dolly Rocket were the Charm-players who stroke me the most. Very versatile skaters and good agile blockers, powerful women so it seems! This bout ended with a 186 vs. 122 win for Charm City.
- Bout 3: Montreal vs Steel CityThe final bout of the day was a very exciting one! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, if Montrealcould kick Steel City’s ass or not. But it sure was one hell of a bout! A slight panic-moment near the end, when Ewan Wotarmygot hurt and medics rushed to the scene. They carried her out on a brancard and evereone was holding their breaths. But as they moved away from the track she waved to reassure us that she’d be ok. During the bout itself, USA seemed stronger overall, but I have nothing but respect for the “Fluo’s”. Nicely played, but Steel City takes home the title with 144 vs. 121.
Day two: the 10th of April
The morning was rough, but the idea that we were in for a second day of Anarchy made us hit the showers, put on our team shirts & rush to the ExCel Centre to get some good seats.
- Bout 4: The London Rollergirls (UK) & the Charm City Roller Girls (USA) were already warming up. Although London had quite a hard time keeping up with New Skids On The Block’s strategic play yesterday, they seemed pumped up & ready to represent Europe in this roller derby tournament. Charm City won with an overwhelming end score of 218 vs. 126, but London did put up a fight. Lot’s of penalties though, but very fun to watch.
- Bout 5: The Charm City Roller Girls (USA)played their second game of the day against the New Skids On The Block (Canada). These last girls showed us wat a real skate-out is all about, with Reel 2 Reel’s hit song “I like to move it, move it” on the background they started a well-routined dance-off, oldschool-moves included. They definitely brought back the ‘90s this weekend (and the fluo :0) ;-). With that kind of entrance, you tend to set the bar high, I was very curious to see them play for the last time this weekend. They’re quite the party-team, yet not to be underestimated.The game kicks off and Iron Wrench sets the tone with a confident & smooth jam through the pack. I absolutely love to see her jam! 10 minutes later, the score is 25-10 for Charm City. The USA-teams are very, ve
ry strong, the level of skating & tactics is mindblowing. Co-Captain Lil’ Mama got expelled from the game, after having got too many majors, but she’s so awesome to watch. She’s a blocker, but when she jams, she’s like a brick going right through, no matter what obstacles. Very fierce player! The penalty box was fully packed, during the whole bout. During halftime it became clear that Charm City was taking on the lead with 116 vs.55. It was suprising to see how little points Montreal got, since they showed a very nice range of derbyskills.
- Bout 6: London vs Steel CityThe final bout of this tournament had come. London was playing home base, but as stated before,USA-level seems to be a bit higher. They’ll have to put up a fight if they want to win from Pittsburgh’s Steel City Derby Demons. Either way, they have full support of all their European fans. The parents of Raw Heidi were sitting next to me, too
cute to see their matching “Raw Mommy”- & “Raw Daddy”-London Rollergirls t-shirts. Full parental support, R.E.S.P.E.C.T! But cuteness isn’t going to grant you victory. Steel City’s Bonecrusher does her name all the honours; a mean blocker that one, you’d want to skate clockwise just to avoid her. At a certain point, she knocked Vagablonde out of bounds, right into the audience, near the VIP-area. I’m guessing Miss Miyagi showed her a ‘warm Belgian welcome’? 😉 At halftime break, thescoreboard read 20-62 for Steel City. Anything’s still possible. At a certain point, the score was 58-72 for Steel City, and themost awesome powerjam took place right before our noses. With almost all their blockers in the penalty box, one had to hold down the fort. Vagablonde jammed her way from a 58-72-score ‘till a 72-72-score in one single (power)jam! We got up almostimmediately to grant her the standing ovation, she deserved. That was definitely the most awesome moment of the whole weekend, goosebumps! (Relive it here) In the end, Steel City still won with a score of 79-119,but London can go home proudly looking back to an amazing tournament!
This derby-filled weekend was too awesome to summarise in just a couple of pages. It’s funny to see how such a weekend can provoke this ‘derby-high’. All those who attended, went home feeling like “yeah, this was soooo coool” :-). I can only speak for myself, but I concluded that I still have a long way to go. The level of skating was very high, but it empowers me to know that there’s still a lot to come. I look forward to every little progression, to every bout and derbygirl/-boy I get to meet in the future. I’ll start with next practise and have the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls-Bootcamp to look forward to!
Thanks & kudos to the London Rollergirls for organising and coordinating this event, we were happy to have been a part of it!
Note: If you want to read a more professional review of last weekend’s tournament, go to http://www.derbynewsnetwork.com/, mine is from a spectator’s point of view 😉