How’s it going? As you probably know via our social channels, we print a whole load of things for roller derby teams across the continent of Europe. We love it. The girls (and boys) are always super-friendly, their art is cool, and the roller derby commonwealth seems to be a really tight community, that encourages young people (who may not fall in love with conventional sports), to take up something which will improve their lives. Sport and being part of a team helps you learn new skills and meet new people. It can be an enriching and life-changing experience, except if you’re Joey Barton of course.
I’m lucky in the fact, that lots of the derby people, tweet me every day. They enter the abundant comps and generally make my job easier and more fun-filled. The only problem is that I know nothing about their sport. This was proved by two things. Firstly, I met up with a couple of awesome ladies from a certain northern team (more on that soon), and I unfortunately pronounced the ‘lead’ in ‘lead jammer’ as the metal and not the person who’s currently in a winning position. Anyone with a basic grasp of derby, knows that I made a massive error, and I was a little red around the gills. Also, I’ve always pronounced derby as the place name BUT I’m told it’s a lot more common to go with ‘duh-bee’, as the Americans invented it, and mens derby (Merby) is pronounced ‘muh-bee.’ At least I didn’t make the common error of asking where the ball was. I hope I’ve got this all right thus far. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
A couple of weeks ago, a couple of the ladies from The Portsmouth Roller Wenches asked if I’d help announce at their forthcoming bout against the Big Bucks High Rollers B-Team. Half-cut and not one to turn down an opportunity to show off, I duly agreed. Now, if you’re going to announce / commentate on a sport, then it’s usually advisable to have some sort of background or knowledge of the sport. Then again, look at Adrian Chiles or Colin Murray. I didn’t even know what a ‘lead jammer’ was, let alone how to say the flipping thing. Adrian Chiles can say “striker.” Well, at least I think he can.
So last Sunday, I made my way down to Havant Leisure Centre with a couple of the Portsmouth ladies. I’d spent the prior 48 hours hastily researching the sport, and watching several You Tube rules videos as well as a few bouts online. As you can expect, learning something on the internet is totally different to having to talk about it in real life. Except social media, of course. Wink. Luckily, I’d had a few ciders the night before and I hadn’t even had the time to think about being nervous. When I got there, I was introduced to my fellow announcer: ‘Smirkcules.’ Smirkcules was and still is a tall and loud Aussie, who plays, coaches and commentates regularly on derby. So you could classify him as an expert. He explained how things should be done, what was happening, and allayed any fears that I may’ve had about not knowing anything.
What happened next? I spent the next hour watching some serious sport, as both teams skated furiously round the track, trying to win the game. I also commentated, promoted the raffle, the Wenches site, and made a few terrible jokes over the mic, whilst Smirkcules advised and encouraged me. I shouted “power jam” and “grand slam” at the top of my voice, and generally got amongst derby terminology and etiquette. I learnt on my feet, and had a great time soaking up something that 48 hour previous was totally alien to me. I also learnt that derby is a great day out (for all the family) and if you’re 18 and you fancy giving it a go, then you should get in touch with your local team and try out. Even if you don’t want to play, then there’s scope to be a referee or bout official (NSO). There’s a lot of skill in the sport, and any pre-conceived misconceptions that you may have, should be banished to the back of your minds. I’m glad that I got involved and have been invited back to show-off (I mean ‘announce’) at future bouts.
I’d like to thank all the Wenches and Smirkcules for making me feel welcome, and helping me throughout the day. Portsmouth won the bout by 232 to 71 points. You can find out how points are scored, and the game is played by watching this cheesy video. For your information, my roller derby name is now ‘Slideshow Bob’ for obvious reasons. Why don’t you make yourself one up?
That’s it! Keep it awesome and keep it derby!
All these photos are by Andrew Paul Hayward. Thanks for letting me use them!
The Wenches celebrate their hard-earned win.
The Wenches warning up.
Portsmouth skipper ‘Halcyon Daze’ is now the lead jammer!
Track action as in the background, an idiot announces something incorrectly.
You wouldn’t see this after a football match.
Best blocker, jammer and MVP for The Wenches.