Saturday 15th June 2013; a day that will live long in the memory of the East Midlands’ roller derby community as Nottingham Roller Girls hosted their first ever home bout, welcoming Halifax Bruising Banditas to NTU’s Lee Westwood Sports Centre.
A high-scoring, but ultimately one-sided opening bout between Nottingham’s Super Smash Brollers and Sheffield’s The Inhuman League had fueled the anticipation of the gathering crowd; the majority eager to see if Nottingham could build on their maiden win against Hereford Roller Girls in February. The excitement reached fever pitch during the skate outs as newly appointed NRG captain, The Atkins Riot led out her team; a fist-pumping, flag-waving vision of determination. We knew we were in for a good one!
The early first half exchanges were cagey, with HBB taking lead three jams in a row through captain, Luna Landing, Sonic Ruth and Sue Perman; each time calling off the jam after the first scoring pass to limit NRGs point-scoring opportunities. Nottingham employed identical tactics in the next two jams, taking lead jammer status through Natastrophe and Louisey Rider, leaving the score at 14 – 17 after 5.
The next three jams saw the action cranked up a notch as three NRG blockers were sent to the box allowing Halifax to stretch their lead, despite some unrelenting chase-down hits from The Atkins Riot. Momentum swung back to NRG in the 8th as Louisey Rider took lead status moments before Luna Landing was penalised, signaling the bout’s first power jam. The fleet-footed Rider racked up the passes and gave the lead back to Nottingham 40 – 29.
The period concluded in a similar fashion; both teams spending time with multiple blockers in the box and the score kept tantalisingly close at 96 – 99. Recognition must go to the Banditas’ pack who assisted their jammers in taking lead 15 out of the 24 jams, and to NRG’s Lozferatu and Doodlebug for some huge hits that limited HBB’s potential scoring.
Halifax started the second half where they had left off, taking the first three lead statuses through their main trio of jammers. NRG continued to play tough however and the strong walls evident against Hereford were called on again to keep proceedings close.
With the scoreboard showing 104 – 114 after 4, the next two jams proved a turning point for Nottingham. A classic lead jam call-off from Damndrea clawed back 4 points before a 25-point power jam from Natastrophe saw the lead switch in style, 133 – 115. Decisive play from The Atkins Riot and GemAargh duped the previously faultless Sue Perman into a track cut, allowing the NRG vice a great chance to capitalise.
The next four jams saw the game turn scrappy, with jammers and blockers, green and purple alike taking trips to the box. During this phase, one of the bout’s pivotal moments took place as The Atkins Riot was ejected for a seventh penalty. Having laid it on the line every time she was on track, it was not fitting that her final penalty should be for illegible arm numbers!
Despite the drama, NRG remained in the lead after the 10th at 156 – 141. Then it all changed; three consecutive Banditas power jams saw a 15-point deficit transform into a 25-point lead, before a fourth in jam number 15 saw NRG amazingly down 159 – 205. HBB had adjusted their tactics to disrupt the NRG walls from the front whilst also providing solid offensive blocking for their jammers; the likes of Amy T Ville, Larni and Kim O’Kill repeatedly being in the right place at the right time for their team.
Parity returned for the remainder of the half, as Nottingham shored up their lines and held the score differential. With the quietened crowd getting ready to applaud the end of the game, there was still time for a dramatic finish. With jam number 23 coming to a close with 18 seconds remaining on the clock, HBB jammer Larni was called for a late hit. NRG bench manager Jammie Dodger called a timeout, ensuring that one final power jam would be played. Louisey Rider stepped up and added a further 20 points to the NRG total, lifting the spectators’ spirits and providing respectability to the full time score; 203 – 240.
Despite the result, Nottingham could be rightly proud of their performance and also of their achievement as hosts. It will be the first of many and I have no doubt that as the team grows in experience and talent, success off the track will be followed by victory on it.
We Bleed Green!
Photos by DizzyDreams Photography