Croydon Rollerderby 196 – Team Sealand Rollerderby 176
Southern Discomfort 108 – The Inhuman League 176
Merby – or ‘boy derby’ as I prefer to call it. Boys playing rollerderby? I mean, what a mad idea, we’ll have to see if it catches on. Southern Discomfort is the ‘local’ side (if you look closely you’ll spot a few refs and officials from other London derby meets), and they’re up against The Inhuman League, a composite of Sheffield and Newcastle boys teams (can you spot the Sheffield pun in the name? A nice touch I thought), who if nothing else have brought some very vocal support with them.
The Inhuman League take first points and an early lead, but the soft Southerners aren’t taking that lying down and come out of the first period ahead by a few points. But this really was anyone’s bout, and the further we get into the second period, the gritty Northerners claw back their losses and power through the rest of the period until the enemy is well and truly vanquished, finishing with a 68 point lead and an undeniable victory.
Boy derby is an interesting variation, and the dynamics are subtly different. The main thing that seems evident is that the boys, with a higher centre of gravity and greater overall body mass, erm, fall over more, and a lot harder.
Croydon Rollerderby 63 – Bedfordshire Rollergirls 117
And so to the main event. Croydon and Bedfordshire are of about the same age as teams (both have been around for about two years), but Bedford really do have the edge in terms of experience in public bouts. And as anyone who’s spent much time at the derby knows – it’s still a young sport, and experience really counts.
From the off, Bedfordshire show themselves to be a quiet and considered team. Neither particularly fast or high scoring, today their main strengths are defence and unity in the pack. Tight and together, Bedfordshire show great pack teamwork in blocking Croydon’s jammers when attempting to pass, and creating openings for their own jammer when the time comes. As the first period progresses, Croydon do start to learn on their feet, and when they can break through and pick up the pace, their jammers are close on Bedfordshire’s (w)heels, but sadly never quite get lead jammer status to capitalise.
Going in to the second period already 43 points behind, Croydon really do put their all into the fight, which really is the best word to use, as things get distinctly hard-nosed for the last 30 minutes. As well as an increasingly heavy penalty sheet, Croydon did have to call for medics a few times, notably when promising jammer Coco Dean took a nasty hit to the face which stopped play for a good few minutes. All credit to her though, when she could stand again, she was soon back on the track.
Despite never really holding the lead over Bedfordshire, Croydon’s tenacity kept this a lively game, and they’ll have learnt a lot from the encounter – definite ones to watch in the coming years if they can continue to scrap and learn like they did today.