On 20/11/2016 we played the lovely Northern Rogues - we lost with a final score of 219-62, but we had an awesome day! Here's our post game interview.
What was your strategy going into the game?
Northern Rogues Captain Sugar and Spite: Ok. As a team, our strategy was to play calm and keep our walls strong. For myself as a jammer, my strategy is usually just to keep moving and hopfully find a gap. I try to avoid getting hit if I can!
York Minxters Captain Gem O'Cide: We wanted to use the strategies and walls we have been working on within training. We also have been focusing on structured packs and positions for the champs next year.. as this was the last fun game of the year we decided this would help solidify that but mostly to have fun!
What did you team do well?
Northern Rogues Captain Sugar and Spite: Our team were very good at reforming around a jammer, we kept the pack slow and tried to control it as much as we could
York Minxters Captain Gem O'Cide: Mostly we kept to the strategy and walled up well together. We smiled a lot and everyone worked hard.
What was your favourite moment?
Northern Rogues Captain Sugar and Spite: My favourite moment from the game was probably any time I was sent flying by you (Gem O'cide) or the rest of your team. I try to avoid contact because it's tiring as a jammer, but I love the physical stuff!
York Minxters Captain Gem O'Cide: My favourite moment was probably hitting Sugar and Spite flying I felt my hitting was on form and got lots of lovely feedback. I love her but that damn smile when she had lead jammer! My other favourite moment was also when my wall used a strategy we have really struggled with and it worked!
Who on your team would get the Captains award?
Northern Rogues Captain Sugar and Spite: If I had an award to give to my own team it would be incredibly difficult as they all played so well as a team, but I would have to give it to kitty hitter. She always gives it her all despite the fact that at this point she is literally held together with kt tape and chewing gum!
York Minxters Captain Gem O'Cide: Lady P got the MVP award but she deserves he captains award too. She's fairly new to us but has thrown herself in full throttle. She's always enthusiastic and really is the definition of a team player! We would also like to thank Crafty Hog and Hellfire Hoskins and Big Guns for LUM and Benching us!
We love the Northern Rogues and can't wait to have them back! There is definitely a lot more games to play between our teams!
So Saturday the 10th of September was the day of my very first, proper, actual, real-life bout. This is just a memento of the lead up to the day, how it went, and how I felt afterwards. It is not intended to be advice but I will mention things that helped me to focus and not have a melt down on the day of the bout and a few things that I think I could have done better or differently in the lead up to it. This is more of a rambling than anything - welcome to my brain, it’s a terrifying place to be.
So began the run up to the big day.
Luckily I had a pretty full on schedule in the weeks prior to the game so I didn’t have too much time to dwell on my pre-bout nerves. (That didn’t stop me having some pretty damn ludicrous nightmares though, brains are great aren’t they?!) But I had a lot of questions about silly things like:
I know, I know, I am my own worst enemy. The thing is though I like to be organised, I like making lists, I like fully formed plans; when I’m doing something or going somewhere new this trait goes in to overdrive. I kept most of this scary side side of my brain to myself; I think it would have helped me to ask people all the questions, but I just didn’t want to annoy people – I’m pretty sure I’m over that fear now though so be prepared team. Luckily another skater was going to be skating her very first bout too so we managed to muddle through some of the insanity together. I pushed myself at training during the weeks building up to the bout, gave every drill my all, tried things that scared me and most importantly didn’t break myself.
Moving on to the day before the bout I made sure I acted as normally as possible, carried on with the usual routines, met some friends so I wasn’t sat at home fretting alone, had a few cocktails and decided it was a good idea to write a blog post, ate a good meal in the evening and checked over and lined up my kit ready to pack in the morning (alongside my inevitable list(s) of things to remember.) I even packed up some food and plenty of drinks for the day so I would have something to devour after the bout because I knew I wouldn’t be capable of eating much before.
Now I know I said this wasn’t an advisory blog but I’ve changed my mind. If I can give you one piece of advice it is this: DO NOT GIVE YOURSELF SIX BLISTERS THE NIGHT BEFORE A BOUT BY WEARING SHOES WITH STUPID LITTLE SOCKS THAT COMBINE TO CREATE THE WORST WALKING EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE. (Apart from that time you didn’t realise that the thing in your shoe was actually a nail sticking in though the sole…. But that’s a story for another day.) So yeah, bout day started with me frantically trying to find enough blister plasters in the pockets of bags to try and salvage what dignity I could for my angry feet – needless to say this was not on my list. Luckily adrenaline numbed the worst of it until after the final whistle.
So the day I arrived, I force fed myself some breakfast and coffee then packed my bags. The journey there was fine, I managed to tune my brain out as much as possible and relax, luckily I was able to get a lift with fellow Minxters so I didn’t have the added stress of driving and also had people to chat with on the road. Then we arrived at the venue and I realised it was really happening and welcomed back the nausea, but almost every skater was feeling the same so I was not alone. Honestly the whole experience from the minute I put my skates on was a bit of a blur, if you’re lucky there will be some fab photographers there on the day so that you can look back and realise that maybe you did do something useful, or yes you really do need to work on your derby stance and being tall is no longer a viable excuse! But it was great, despite not winning the team were all in great spirits and really supportive. Even when I put a jammer panty on my head and then got all the penalties. It was a learning experience for all of us and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it.
All photos courtesy of Dave Moore, to see more photos from the bout check out: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gridiron/albums
For the first time ever the Minxters decided that we would travel in convoy to the venue, we met at a healthy golden arched restaurant – awaited the late strays and then set off. Trying to stay in convoy on a 2 hour journey is difficult – as is 14 women holding their bladder that long. But we managed to communicate via messenger and dubious gestures to pull over for a group toilet trip, I don’t think that service station’s staff will ever quite recover.
We arrived, we got ready, we all did our varying rituals (again a lot of time spent in the toilet). With three new players who had recently passed minimum skills the atmosphere was surprisingly calm. We even had time to put our standard war paint on. We were ready!
A few of our Fresh Meat had also made the journey and were watching us in the stands, for most of them this was the first scrim they had ever watched. It was lovely being at an away game with some supporters to cheer us on! Next time we will get some Minxters coloured pompoms.
The game started with lead jammer status for the Newcastle North C’s – but ended with a larger point score from our Jammer Lethal Force #56 putting us in the lead. Kiss my Arsenault #221b threw some big hits making her a force to be reckoned with on track with the North C’s realising they needed to hold her back. The first half continued with many lead changes – we were evenly matched and Jammers had to work for every point with Chariz’ard #25 and Troubelina #247 our newer skates blasting through the pack and scoring like they had been doing it a lifetime and Woolley Mammouth #98 using quick steps to find gaps and score on the C’s. At the end of the first half the score was 104 North C’s and 108 York Minxters. It was close and we had worked hard to get that lead with a massive 20 point scoring jam from Fletch #85.
The second half started with an instant double penalty and foul out from Captain Gem O’cide #84 who was able to sit in the stands and explain the rules to the Fresh Meat and scream at the team from the sidelines!
There was some beautiful positional blocking from Boba Threat #13 and one of our newest skaters Pandora Monium #38 who held jammers and saved us some point differentials.
With a high amount of penalties it was interesting watching how both sides dealt with low numbers on track. The floor was a test to all the Minxters and it took some time to get to grips with it (ba-boom-cha!). Mother Clucker #17 was able to pull her signature move with great success and gave the Minxters chance to wall reform. Ebor Whack’em #71AD and Emrah #39 held the inside lane but the North C’s jammers were strong and agile and they quickly pushed through our walls and ended the game with a massive 250 to 149 to the North C’s.
At the end we managed to catch up with the lovely North C’s Captain:
Did you have a strategy going into the game?
We had a strategy to defend at the beginning and see how we got on. Keeping the jammer back was the objective! Then switch to offence if we needed to.
Would you do anything different? Don’t think so.. It was good at the beginning as it was holding well, but the second half was better, we became more focused. We have been working so hard on wall reforming as that was something we had realised we needed to work on since our prior game. So we have worked on that strategy. That was the main objective.
What was your favourite moment? There was a couple where I used my arse so well! And I held a block. There was a scary moment where I was the only blocker!
Interview with Captain Gemocide of York Minxters:
Did you have a strategy going into the game?
Yes, we have had the summer off to work on our three walls, and the objective of the end of the year games is to Win or Learn – but mainly learn! We are trying to work out who works well together, what positions people prefer and hammer home the three walls.
Would you do anything different?
Not foul out!! ;) Hopefully that will be the one and only time it happens and I tried to find the silver lining as I got to sit with our lovely fresh meat! But apart from that.. No.. I think we have lots to learn as a team and scrimming with a team that challenges us is the best way to learn.
What was your favourite moment?
Watching our three newer skaters absolutely smash it. Noone could tell that was their first game. They made me so proud! And of course the massive jam score from Fletch!
The Awards went to::
Best Jammer: Fletch #85
Best Blocker: Bobo Threat #13
Most Valuable Player: Kiss my Arsenault #221b
We finished the night with food and drink with most people managing to come out! Not much can be remembered by anyone, much dancing was had and dehydration was the story of the day after.
A huge thank you to Newcastle Roller Girls for having us, and to all the Refs, officials and everyone involved who helped the day run so smoothly!
We have our first public game in a couple of months coming very soon! Join us at the Newcastle Roller Girls Double Header on Saturday 10th of September, where we'll be playing the newly formed Newcastle Roller Girls North Cs. More information can be found on the Facebook event here.
England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales: around the world, only the best are chosen to represent their country. So how do you make the ascent from an amateur league to the upper echelons of international skating? At the Home Nations Bootcamp, five players at the very top of UK men's roller derby let us in on their secrets, sharing their hard-earned expertise ahead of the Men's Roller Derby World Cup in Calgary.
Fresh from a day of blammer bootcamping with Juke Boxx and Ballistic Whistle, four intrepid Minxters tagged along to learn the skills of the home nations' heroes – and one even walked away with a cheeky Best Jammer award.
What is the 'Home Nations Bootcamp'?
A full-day intensive course on competitive roller derby, split into jamming and blocking sessions, covering technique and strategy and culminating in a scrim.
When did it take place?
3rd July in Halifax, at the training grounds of the Bruising Banditas,10am-4pm. This was a solid day of fast-paced derby training.
Who was coaching?
Five of the best: Lt. Damn, (Ireland jammer), U-Go Boss (Welsh blocker), Don Gingovanni (England blocker), Alien Al (England jammer), and Zube (blocking for Scotland).
What did you learn?
Split into blocking and jamming skills, the bootcamp showed skaters a new way of looking at roller derby. From scoring points without breaking through a wall, to handling a jammer as a lone blocker and manipulating the pack to your advantage, skaters were taught the tips and tricks for upping their game through a heady mix of technique, skill and strategy.
Any notable points?
Despite being at the top of their game, these guys are down to earth. The combination of talent and approachability created the perfect learning environment, as skaters were comfortable to ask questions whilst exploring their own developing skills.
The post-mortem of individual jamming technique was particularly insightful, allowing each skater to appreciate their strengths and weaknesses from a world-class vantage point.
The drills were clearly explained, with a clear goal from the outset; each skill was challenging, without being overwhelming; everything was well-timed, and ran smoothly. The scrim at the end gave players a chance to test their new techniques, and even the off-the-cuff commentary gave skaters food for thought.
Not the best thing to attempt after a 4-hour blammer bootcamp and very little sleep: this was joyfully exhausting.
Beyond the skills and drills, this bootcamp offered the chance to view the sport differently, and to both play and train smarter. Jammers learned to push their boundaries by using their less honed skills as a way to facilitate drills and work on those weak spots, whilst blockers were taught to think pragmatically, using the nuance of roller derby rules to their strategic advantage. Tickets came with a nifty little hashtag-smothered t-shirt for the collection, which was a nice touch.
A great day made even better with our very own Lethal Fawce's well-deserved Best Jammer win. We'll be keeping our eyes peeled for the next one.
With two teams fielding a mix of veteran and fresh skaters, the game between York Minxters and SSRG's Crucibelles was destined to be a nail-biting bout. Onlookers were not disappointed, as the first half kicked off with some big hits from Hylander and quick-footed jamming from the Crucibelles. Power jams on both sides made for tense viewing, with Crucibelles taking a jukey approach and Minxters using force. With strong walls and fierce jamming, the Minxters took an early lead of 19-11, yet were quickly overtaken by the Crucibelles, for a closing first half score of 69–115 to Sheffield.
After a quick half time break, the Minxters came back aggressively, with both Lethal Fawce and Fox powering through walls. The Crucibelles suffered one or two brutal hits from Fox, and the audience was treated to showmanship from both teams, with two fine apex jumps – one from each side – performed in quick succession by a pair of daring jammers. With great energy the Minxters narrowed the wide gap left at the end of the first half, eventually succumbing to a final score of 150-174 in favour of SSRG's Crucibelles.
After time to mix the teams up for a friendly post-bout scrim, we caught up with our team Captains to see how they got on.
SSRG Crucibelles Captain (Alpha Betty)
Q: Congratulations! Did you have a strategy going in to the bout?
A: Not hugely! Since we have a mix of old and new skaters, we really just wanted to put what we've been doing in training to work, and have some fun. I think it went pretty well!
Q: Great! Is there anything you would have done differently?
A: I'm happy with how things worked out – we wanted to make sure everyone got equal track time, especially with the new skaters – build some of their confidence, I guess – everyone had a lovely time, so I think we achieved that.
Q: And it was great to watch! Do you have any favourite moments?
A: Ooh! Slight skate-nesia here … I guess, just seeing everyone out there, doing what we do – doing 'the thing', as we call it. Just working together – that was really nice to see.
York Minxters Captain (Gem O' Cide)
Q: Did you have a strategy going in to the bout?
A: No! No, we didn't have a strategy at all, because it was more informal and fun. Our plan was to get to know each other as a team, and start learning how to work with each other, who works well together – I think we achieved that.
Q: Good to hear! Is there anything you would have done differently?
A: The only thing we maybe could have done differently is to keep playing as a team, but I think it was nice, especially for the newer players, to have that mixed scrim at the end – sometimes you will be put in a mixed team, of skaters you don't know, and that was a good place to learn how that feels, because Sheffield are just lovely.
Q: We're used to your answers on this one involving bums, so dare we ask – do you have any favourite moments?
A: Tanya [Lethal Fawce], coming round twice on that inside line – beautiful, just beautiful. Ooh, and Bentham [Big Guns Bentham] doing that apex jump, where I thought she was going to fall, but she didn't.
Thanks to our skaters, refs, NSOs, bench and line-up teams and spectators for coming out to support us!
Minxters Best Blocker – Hylander
Minxters Best Jammer – Fox
Minxters MVP – Lethal Fawce
Crucibelles Best Blocker – Pulp Bitchin'
Crucibelles Best Jammer – Rora
Crucibelles MVP – Rage Against the Machina
Congratulations to our very own Head of Training, Hellfire Hoskins, who was on victorious Team Lawrence at this weekend's Last Action Heroes! Well done to all our participating skaters for making the Minxters proud.
An exciting occasion for the Minxters this weekend, as the very first all-Minxters roster geared up for a bout against former rivals, North Wales ZomBs. Having faced off with the ZomBs once and walked away victorious, the away team came ready to settle the score, whilst the brand-new Minxters skaters prepared to show off the skills they've been working hard on for the last year.
As the bout started, the Minxters soon learned that ZomB's like it rough. Playing offensively from the offset, North Wales went in with an aggressive strategy that was hard to best. With a little fancy footwork on the inside line from jammers Redfern (#19) and Fox (#4), the Minxters almost closed the gap, with a nail-biting 27-30 score in favour of Wales close to the halfway point. Unfortunately for the home team, the ZomB's take-no-prisoners strategy prevailed, and at half time they led with 80 points to the Minxters' 49.
After a pep talk and time to re-group, the Minxters came back strong, with great team spirit in the face of adversity. Showing greater cohesion as a team in the second half, the Minxters raised their game in some respects to the level of their opponents. Capitalising on aggressive hits resulted in some memorable moments, including a daring block by Motherclucker (#17), who used her backside to fearlessly knock an opposing skater off track. Sadly, a good show of enthusiasm was not enough to win the day, and the Minxters eventually succumbed to a closing score of 97-245 in favour of the ZomBs. A valiant effort was made by all, and despite their loss, the Minxters enjoyed a challenging taste of first blood as a team.
After all was said and done, we caught up with our two team captains to see what they had to say.
North Wales ZomBs Captain, Angel with Diamonds (#64)
Q: Congratulations are in order! What do you think your team's strengths were today?
A: Taking it back to basics with our tactics. We practised, and we did what we practised. I'm really proud of my girls.
Q: Your tactics paid off. Is there anything you would have done differently?
A: We always take back things we can improve on for our next game, but I don't think I would change what we did today. We always do our best, we always make sure we learn, and for this one, I wouldn't change a thing.
Q: Finally, what was your favourite moment?
A: Not a favourite moment exactly, but mainly when our jammers and our blockers were on-point with their assists, and the assists – they looked effortless, but they're not effortless. Five people on one track, all doing what they're meant to be doing, at the right moment – I'm very proud of that.
Minxters Captain, Gem O' Cide (#84)
A: A bittersweet day for the Minxters! What do you think your team's strengths were today?
Q: As always, our communication was very good. I think it was difficult for us; I remember the first time we played Wales … we're not used to playing offensive at all. I think we held the jammer back, and with so many new skaters, I think we did ourselves proud. We'll learn a lot from it.
Q: A nice positive outlook. Is there anything you would have done differently?
A: No! This was the first time we played as an all-Minxters team, and that's all I wanted.
Q: D'aww, that's sweet Cap! And finally, what was your favourite moment?
A: My favourite moment was when Henn [Motherclucker, #17] did her bum thing. I loved the bum thing. I asked her afterwards if she's going to practice bumming now.
Thanks to all our skaters, refs, NSOs and audience for supporting us, and thanks again to North Wales Roller Derby for coming to play.
Photos coming soon!
Minxters Best Blocker – Gem O' Cide (#84)
Minxters Best Jammer – Fox (#4)
Minxters MVP – Redfern (#19)
North Wales Best Blocker – Sudden Beth (#2)
North Wales Best Jammer – Merrillstreak (#162)
North Wales MVP – Sazitron (#333)
Roller derby is a sport rife with ritual, crammed with cultural quirks, and packed with peculiarities, particularly when it comes to players and their relationships. With team mates quickly forming close friendships that last a lifetime, roller derby is a sport of love and skate, where bonds are built through brutal bouts and fierce passion for both game and glory. With emotions running high, it's unsurprising that many skaters find themselves an on-track soul mate, forming a close connection that sees the pair support, mentor and challenge one another throughout their training and beyond. To show their love, many pairings become 'derby wives', as a dedication to an enduring friendship built on blood, sweat and tears.
In honour of Valentine's Day, we've put together our top list of gifts for that special someone in your derby life.
1. Put a ring on it
Say your derby "I dos" with these adorable matching rings. D'aww!
This weekend we hosted our very own Cherry Popper! Here's how we got on.
Nerves were riding high on Sunday, with a fine showing of 11 Minxters skaters appearing on track, alongside players from Birmingham Blitz Dames, Deathrow Hull, Hot Wheels, Hull's Angels (H.A.R.D.), Spa Town and Sheffield Steel Rollers, together forming a fine crowd of rookies ready to roll. Divided into classic Black and White, this no-frills scrim focussed on fun for all newcomers, including the two Bench Managers – Minxters' very own Redfern, for Team White, and Hylander, leading the battle cry for the Blacks – both familiar with the track but fresh faces to the bench. As the first half began, a crowd of friends and family watched on in eager anticipation.
Black made a strong start, with some heavy penalties from the White side aiding their opposition with a couple of early power jams. As the bout progressed and confidence grew amongst the skaters, the game became cleaner and calmer, with White walls proving a tough obstacle. Still, the Black jammers prevailed, and at the end of the first half, Black emerged lead, with a favourable score of 123 to the White's 60.
After a half-time pep talk from Bench Managers Redfern and Hylander (both doing a cracking job in their new roles), along with a selection of sweets and healthy treats from the oh-so-loving Minxters Captain, Gem O' Cide, the second half saw the Whites return with new energy and focus. With stronger walls and impressive jamming skills to boot, the White team pulled back the score, tightening the gap with some tactical moves and an impressive apex jump from Big Guns Bentham. Tired from a heroic first half effort, the Black team came off a little flustered, collecting a few penalties along the way. A spectacular last minute foul-out from Mother Clucker was greeted with odd pride by the Black team, who still managed to pull off a final win, with a closing score of 160 for the Whites to 252 to the Blacks.
We caught up with our fabulous Captains at the end of the bout to hear their thoughts on the day's events.
Lethal Fawce #56 (Team Black)
Q: Congratulations on your win! Did you have a strategy?
A: Enjoy it as much as possible!
Q: Fantastic! How do you feel about the outcome?
A: To say that I'm thrilled might be a bit rubbing it in a bit, but … I think all the girls skated really well today, and the points don't matter at the end of it, because everyone played such a good game. There was a lot of communication, and we're talking about skaters that have never been together as well. The fact that they can get it together on track just shows off the hard work they've been putting in. I think that's the most important outcome of today.
Q: Good stuff. Last question: do you have a favourite moment from today?
A: It's a little bit of a guilty pleasure, but when Mother Clucker fouled out! She went out with a bang.
Fox #4 (Team White)
Q: Captain! We have to ask: did you have a strategy going in?
A: [Grinning] To have fun!
Q: Fabulous! It certainly looked like you achieved that. How do you feel about the outcome?
A: I think it was good – we had a lot of skaters that were completely fresh, completely new – but they've learned so much, and every single one of them has said they've felt so much better [about derby] after today, which is why we're here.
Q: Awesome! And, finally – what was your favourite moment?
A: [Thinking] My favourite moment? Ooh … er … [Thinks] The second half in general. We pulled it together, it was really great.
White Best Blocker – Woolley Mammoth #98
White Best Jammer – Rachiepie #8
White MVP (Most Valuable Player) – Frank Intense #16
Black Best Blocker – Dommimo #87
Black Best Jammer – Hallowheels #31
Black MVP (Most Valuable Player) – Blocke R Ella #2
Thanks to our NSOs, skaters, refs, Bench Managers and lovely spectators for coming out to support us! Photos coming soon.
(Full disclosure: this article was written by Sephy Hallow, aka Hallowheels. Every effort has been made to provide an unbiased, accurate representation of events, based on spectator notes and Captain interviews post-game).