Every time I write a game write up there are 2 main
responses I get. "I love reading your stuff!" and "Oh... you didn't
think much of us?".
I really do apologize. I don't think I've
come across a team yet where I've thought "they kind of sucked". I've
come across teams where I think the bench managers could have done a
little better - I hate it when they try to play all of their ace players
exclusively rather than rotating them (as this doesn't foster emerging
talent, tires out the existing talent and ultimately loses bouts. Besides which, it's frustrating for players if they don't get any game time...). But
never a team that has me thinking "They suck". In fact, I'm in awe of all of those on roller skates giving it a go.
So me.. Who am I? I'm Nevyn. What makes me an expert? (someone
actually asked this which got me onto a whole rant which ended with "Who
decides who's an expert?" ... or something along those lines). Nothing.
I'm not an expert. I enjoy the sport. I'm trying to write about it....
I've only been a derby fan since the end of August 2013. I had been
on holiday in Taranaki (New Zealand) and babysat for a friend who was doing derby training for a
day with an Australian team - VRDL (Victoria Roller Derby League)
. I came back home, was at a pub with a
friend, when the barman said the Pirate City Rollers
were having their
after party there... "That's me in" I thought though being a horribly
shy person I only spoke to 2 people that night (Sick Puppy and Ruby Red Knuckles).
It turns out their next bout was the day after my birthday in which
case, I HAD to go and see a game and had an excuse to bring all of my
friends so that I wasn't alone in going (that limitation has since
disappeared. I don't care! I wanna see more derby!). So I went and saw
my first bout and then missed the next 2 because of the aforementioned
Basically I am a fan boy. I kind of toyed with the idea of giving myself a faux derby name. Something like "Creepee Phan Boi" but that's a step too far... besides which, people are starting to have some idea who I am in which case, I don't think I'm all that creepy anymore (except when I'm doing that hovering thing waiting for my chance to get a word in edgewise).
I know all of the action is in the pack -
but it's really hard to write about the pack and the blockers. I hate it
when introductions to the game describe the jammer as the most
important player out there. They're the lead singers sure... but the
drummer is keeping the beat. The bass player is laying down something
you can identify with. The lead guitarist is holding it all together
into a cohesive unit. But from a fan boys perspective, it's that lead
singer who's scoring all of the points... And they're the easiest to
track. In our minds it's Ziggy Stardust - and the Spiders from Mars are
kind of incidental but in our hearts of hearts, we all know that Ziggy
Stardust would just be an egotistical prat who can play a guitar left
handed (and too fast) if it wasn't for the Spiders from Mars. And you
also know that someone else substituted in for the drummer might not
work quite so well.. the Spiders from Mars are a unit... It's the
combination that makes them great.
So unfortunately that means I end up writing about the jammers an
awful lot. My notes (I'm having a play with these at the moment - what
details can I take down about each jam? Can I still enjoy a bout if I'm
desperately taking down notes?) are littered with the numbers of lead
jammers. I can extrapolate from the score for the jam that the blockers
have done a damn good job (or not quite such a good job as the case may be).
Those Jammers? the ones that stand out? You
know the ones... they're so good that you suspect that the rest of the
team hates them; only it turns out they're just so damn nice and you
should have probably realized this because they hugged the opposing
jammers before the bout got started... I don't want to take anything
away from the blockers. I really don't. I haven't yet found a way of
writing about "those jammers" without making myself and everyone else feel
unworthy. I say this with sincerity. That friend I mentioned earlier -
the one who I babysat for - was told she'd never be a natural skater. So
few people are. She's taken it to heart and it kills me. A jammer is
nothing without their blockers... Even the really good ones.
It's a flaw in my writing. I know this. I really want you to know
this as well... Not because I don't want to improve this about myself.
I'm sure I'll improve this about myself... but... well... it's a work in
progress. Please be gentle.
After having watched one team again and again, I know them. I get
their strengths. I can tell you that Sugar Hit, for example, is one hell
of a blocker. I suspect she's also a rules nerd as she seems to manage
to ALWAYS play within the rules from what I've seen. And Lady Trample -
who got her name from Frank Sinatra's "The Lady is a Tramp" - somehow
manages to confuse the opposing blockers, or, if that fails, skate
through them if completely necessary (though this is normally a last
resort). They're one of two local leagues but they're MY league.
It makes it amazingly hard to be unbiased. It's not that I want to
be biased. I'm trying desperately not to be. It's just that I know
exactly what I'm looking for with them. I can see when they're trying
out something a little different. I recognise the players enough that I
can tell when they've just fielded the same jammer in two jams in a row.
I can tell when they've decided they're in trouble and need to score a
lot of points very quickly. Because I can see a strategy I can also see when they've changed that strategy. I know them.
While I endeavour to try and meet some of the opposing team at after
parties... drinks... whichever way I can, I am kind of a shy fan boy
and so this hasn't proved to be as effective as I'd like. The creepy fan
boy can be strong in this one and the glazed looks on some of their
faces as I introduce myself would make for a truly frightening coffee
table book. The search for additional information often results in
gossip that I won't write about anyway.
The last bout I went to I lost my game guide which had the opposing
team's names in it so my notes were essentially a bunch of numbers which
didn't really mean much. I got some names from someone but given that I
got those names after I'd written a piece, those names felt tacked on
to me. I'm sure I was not the only one to feel it.
What this all leads to is: I'm going to keep writing, and it might
have it's flaws. I can almost guarantee flaws (though that's not a
guarantee I want to make). Bear with me. I'm working on it. In the
I apologize.Just a little note about the images. The pencil shown at the top is a Public Domain work. The image shown on the main page is a horrible something I threw together for this post. In which case, I'll call it a CC by-SA.