Anarchy in the UK 2014 recap - Day 1

All photos courtesy of Jason Ruffell (

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 Mountain

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 Mountain

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 MaineyLondon – 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 astounding.

CasstratorRocky 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 BeamDetroit – 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 DoeToronto – 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 JonesTeam 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.

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