Northland Nightmares Hells Wives vs. Dead End Derby Roller Girls - June 21, 2014

Wow! What an evening! It all kicked off with junior derby. Two unisex teams going up against each other. Unfortunately I arrived a little late for this game. It was a bit of a long drive. Thankfully my derby fan companion took it in her stride as I don't drive. Thanks Hayley.

The main event was really something. I wish I could have filmed it.

There was no passive offence which, while passive offence can be a little boring to watch it definitely has it's place. I think it could have been used A LOT more in this game. But as a fan boy who wants to see some really good solid roller derby action, it was fantastic seeing no excuses made for not doing both jobs of the blockers (blocking opposing jammer, assisting own jammer).

From Dead End Derby: Evil K'Neevil showed off her amazing experience with some mad jamming. Knockit Rocket, although she doesn't have that stereotypical jammer build, showed some amazing skills and between her as jammer, and Baddy as pivot, they proved how effective passing the star can be. The other thing to note about the jammers was that they never coasted. NEVER. Even when they didn't get lead jammer, they skated their butts off and got around quickly (finding that perfect diamond line) either forcing the jam to be called off, or being within the pack before the opposing blockers knew to expect them.

But that was nothing compared to, what felt like text book, examples of blocking. They did well to get into formations, show that the pack is really where it's all going on and that it's all a team effort (I think I've said that I have trouble describing a blocking line because it's really hard to pick out individuals. I've now come to think that if you can pick out an individual, it's not as cohesive a blocking line up as it could be). Stretching the pack was followed up by quickly forming back into a cohesive unit. Slowing down the opposing jammer long enough for passed blockers to get back in front was all par and course of their strategy.

The Northland Nightmares Hells Wives played a really good game. By about half time I was asking myself "why is the point difference so big?". So while it was a really positive effort it just wasn't being converted into points. The last 10 minutes was really impressive. Rather than being dejected by the overwhelming scoreline, they played their hearts out. Unfortunately, it was also about this time that their jammers also started getting penalties.

The difference was in the blocking. They weren't doing anything necessarily wrong. I had to "phone a friend" i.e. ask the person sitting next to me what they thought was going wrong. Once she pointed it out, I found myself agreeing with her. It's hard to put it down into really concrete terms. The problem was the commitment to the block and follow through. They were struggling to get formations happening quickly enough.

If I had to criticize them on anything else... it would be that their jammers weren't terribly autonomous. They kept looking to their bench to see if they should call off a jam. At one point it felt really comical as Dead End Derby Girl's jammer was less than a meter behind their jammer and she still looked for, what I can only describe as consent from the bench, to call off the jam. I'm not saying there isn't merit in stretching out these jams to run the clock, if, for example, you have players in the penalty box, but in this case, this wasn't the scenario.

Skatan proved herself to be a fantastic jammer for Northland Nightmares. I think she's going to be a jammer to watch.

The final score: 275 to Dead End Derby, 65 to Hells Wives.

Northland Nightmares Hell's Wives next game is against ARDL which, unfortunately, I'm unable to attend as I'm heading to a couple of exhibition games for the New Zealand roller derby team.

On a very personal note: Thanks to all of the people involved in these bouts. It was fun watching some junior derby - we need more of that! The merch stand went out of their way to find stock of tank tops for me (a gift for a friend for whom I probably buy way too much derby gear). AND the merch was amazingly well priced. I even got a sweaty hug! If I had one criticism for the way things went, it's for the man behind me who started to yell "Bullshit!" every time he perceived things not going his team's way. He unfortunately seemed to have a cursory knowledge of the rules (a player must enter the track behind the player who knocked them out UNLESS the player that knocked them out also cut the track. In which case they may enter where they cut).

Oh, and I never actually get to talk to the officials (I know some but not a lot) in which case, you guys did a fantastic job. Thank you. My one criticism was that the time keeper didn't put any effort into the seagull dance (What I describe the motion of hands on shoulders, then arms out. Rinse and repeat) which is REALLY silly nitpicking. (Go Team Seagull!). Thanks Zebras!

There's a severely cut down version of this post (I've been published!!!!) in a newspaper...

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