NRG vs Sheffield Steel Crucibelles

Six months ago I went along with a friend to my first Roller Derby (said like a pirate) bout. We sat in the bleachers commenting how silly those in the suicide seats were; after all the clue is in the name. My friend talked me through the game as we watched a blur of girls speeding past and hitting the hell out of each other. We cheered along, not really understanding what was happening.

The next week I went along to skate with the Super Smash Brollers, a couple of months later I joined Nottingham Roller Girls as well. Since then I’ve been hooked on this unique sport and that’s how I found myself sitting in the suicide seats (as close as possible to the action) feverishly cheering “N.R.G. N.R.G. N.R.G!” as Sheffield Steel Roller Girls – Crucibelles hosted Nottingham Roller Girls in last Saturday’s rematch.

For those of you who are involved in Derby and have never been to a bout you really must. Not only is it a great day out with a real buzz in the air but it’s a brilliant opportunity to see the moves and drills you are training put into use; and if you’ve never heard of Roller Derby what better way is there than experiencing the spectacle live- and a spectacle it is!

We arrived slightly late and entered the sports hall to find a row of bleachers along the back wall facing the track with various officials getting ready to go. We wandered in and were quickly spotted by our fellow Nottingham folk and beckoned over to join them on the floor by track side just in time to see our girls lining up for the first jam nervously glancing at each other and their opponents.

With a blast of the whistle they were off, tussling with a wall of orange bodies desperately trying to stop us from scoring points. Unfortunately for us their walls were strong and held our jammers back for long seconds as they dashed and smashed trying to find a hole to slip through to make a scoring pass. Despite our determined chants of encouragement and delight when we scored the first period continued to be a struggle for our girls; at the half time whistle we were trailing by nearly 100 points.

During half time I got a chance to have a ramble around the fantastic merchandise and refreshment stalls at go hand in hand with a day of Roller Derby. On offer today were various tee shirts, Lego figures, jewellery and even a stall from Derby Store UK who had skates and everything associated with them. It is always well worth having a chat with people in the sales stand as you never know what you’ll find and when two Derby fans/players meet you’ll have plenty to talk about.

With a blast of the whistle the track was populated once more by the Roller girls. NRG looked refreshed and lined up eager to earn back the victory point by point. We seemed more confident and worked together holding their jammer for longer each time as we clawed back points. This made the second half great to watch but the end of the game was drawing near and NRG were still a long way from victory.

One thing to be aware of regarding Roller Derby though is that there is always a chance, no matter how unlikely it may seem, that those 60 odd points can be made back in only a couple of jams. The period clock ticked down to 2 minutes remaining, a couple of Jams was all we had left.

NRG lined up with a fresh determination on their faces and as the whistle blew our jammer flew out of the pack, round the wall of girls intent on destroying her, and out into the day light of lead jammer. We were in control of the game and what happened next was among the best Derby I have seen. We held their jammer tight for the whole jam as ours sped round the track racking up 30 odd points. The crowd went mental.

As the 4 blasts sounded the end of the jam, NRG tried desperately to call a time out before those last few seconds ticked down; unfortunately for everyone they were hot on calling time and the bout ended with a Crucibelles victory 218 to 158.

We were left slightly disappointed that we didn’t get that final chance but over all we were happy and pumped to get our skates on. All in all it was a fantastic day; don’t ask me what happened in the second game- we were all too busy chatting about the previous game and enjoying/enduring sweaty Derby hugs from the team.

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