All photos courtesy of Jason Ruffell (http://www.roller-derby-on-film.co.uk/)
As was the case last
year, we have returned once again to Guildford, the accidental UK
home of international roller derby tournaments. Hundreds of derby
obsessed men and women have descended on the usually sleepy Surrey
town to watch LRG firm up their place in the WFTDA top 10. Boy did we
get a show!
Detroit Vs. Rocky
If this tournament was
the first time someone had watched the sport of roller derby, this
game would cause them to be forgiven for thinking that we're ever so
rough on one another. It has been a long time since I've borne
witness, at any level, to a game with such unbridled ferocity.
Detroit were definitely
at the receiving end of a lot of this ferocity, and the superior
stamina of the Rocky Mountain team showed from the very beginning. It
also felt like Detroit didn't quite have the speed needed on jammer
re-entry, leading to their jammers frequently being subjected to
cripplingly stretched recycling.
Detroit never found
their footing against the superior Rocky, and though they beat the
scoreline they put up in the closed door against London the night
before, they finished out on 312-57.
This bout really set
the tone of the crowd for the whole weekend, as the UK proved that
everyone loves an underdog. Every lead call and point score from
Detroit led to huge cheers from the crowd, and at some points they
even managed to drown out a very vocal Rocky Mountain fan contingent.
London Vs Toronto
There is often rumbling
on derby websites about high-level derby being less interesting as a
spectator sport, and up until this game I probably would have been
one of the biggest detractors of that theory.
As a derby player,
there is absolutely no denying that from a strategic and skill
standpoint, LRG are unrivalled in the UK and I felt a learned a lot
from watching them play. However, if I wasn't a derby player I think
this bout would have left me cold. Toronto came out looking like a
team already defeated, and the impenetrable walls of LRG left Toronto
scoreless for the first 15 minutes of the bout, and the first half
ended on an eye watering 257-17 to LRG.
The second half played
out much the same. The game was super slow with the pack almost fully
stopped at some points, and it became a game of counting how many
times Kamikaze Kitten succeeded in an apex jump (answer: lots). The
bout finished 477-41, the biggest win of the weekend.
I can honestly say that
the atmosphere was saved by some absolutely hilarious commentary from
Laura Jones of the Seaside Sirens. Sensing that the crowd
was becoming restless, she resorted to stories of Essex and
choosing telly over the Dynamic Sports Academy, keeping everyone at least partially pumped up.
London Vs Rocky
This, arguably, was the
game that everyone was waiting to see. After Rocky Mountain's
domination of Detroit, and London's complete decimation of Toronto,
this was shaping up to be the hardest fought bout of the weekend for
LRG. Added to this, London had a score to settle as Rocky pummelled
them 228-49 in the last meeting.
There was no sign of a
washout in this game, with Rocky Mountain quickly putting up points
on the board. London showed no sign of laying down and taking it,
with the points matched and surpassed within a couple of jams. The
same physicality that Rocky Mountain displayed against Detroit was on
show again against London, making for a far faster and more exciting
game than the previous bout against Toronto.
Although Rocky never
managed to grab the lead from London, they certainly seemed to adapt
quickly to the LRG tactics, keeping the score difference within 40
points for the entire first half. Unfortunately their physical, hard
hitting style of play was no match for the relentlessly drilled
tactics of LRG, and London took the win 205-132.
All in all, a rare
chance to see some stupidly high level derby, and in my home venue no
less (I am slightly biased in loving the Spectrum, as they have been
very kind to Surrey Roller Girls). The only thing that irked me (and others) slightly about the day was the stonking great two hour
break that happened in between the 2nd and 3rd
games. Although the reasoning behind it was sound
(allowing London to get a rest between bouts), it felt like it was
crying out for another bout, or some other form of entertainment
beyond the bowling and swimming offered by the sports centre. Maybe I'm only saying this because I am really terrible at bowling.
Faces of the Day:
Stef Mainey – London
– She is a powerhouse the likes of which we very rarely see in UK
derby. The amount of people that simply bounced off her was
Casstrator – Rocky
Mountain – Part of the tight jammer rotation brought by Rocky, and
certainly the most visible points scorer. Did a number on the LRG
walls that was not achieved by many on the day.
Lazer Beam – Detroit
– Jammed her socks off for Detroit and recovered quickly from a
painful looking bash to the head at the beginning of the Rocky game.
Everyone loves a trier!
Kookie Doe – Toronto
– Brought the crowd morale back from the brink by putting up the
first points for Toronto against London. Definitely one of Toronto's
best assets over the weekend.
Laura Jones – Team Commentary - if your bout needs a commentator, you need Laura. Unless
you want the commentator to talk about roller derby, in which case
you might have to get someone else.