The bruises are now fading, our kit has been washed and is enjoying some down time on sunny washing lines. Our second season in the British Championships is over. It has been a momentous one for all of us at DCRA. So its time for a bit of a reflection on a job well done…
To give some context on our journey so far, our first season in champs was an incredible learning curve. We lost every game and looking back at the footage from the first games in particular, (I will never watch this again without dying a little inside) we literally had NO IDEA WHAT WE WERE DOING! But there is no shame in admitting that, we all must start somewhere, right?
So, season one was all about making friends and having our asses handed to us! That mission was firmly accomplished; some of our best buds in “the derbyverse” have come from meeting on track during 2017 champs. Having had such a positive experience from our first season meant that it was a no-brainer – do we want to do it again? Hell yeah!
So, 2018 season was all signed sealed and in the diary. We had another amazing intake of skaters in the summer and autumn and two transfers who contacted us out of the blue and asked if they could come along to some sessions – we had NO idea what a massive impact these guys would have on us!
During this time coaching also took a massive step forward. Princess, Force-a-Nature and later Fubar and Eek came on board in a more official capacity and began taking drills and coaching, bringing their knowledge to our sessions. Combined with our transfers, we had a formidable team working with us and helping us to develop from the “Cool Runnings” participants into actual competitors.
Seeing the list of teams we would be playing against in the 2018 season brought smiles and if I’m honest, a bit of a groan. We had never played Furness Firecrackers, but their reputation preceded them – we knew they were fierce competitors – and the reputation of Spa Town was of a similarly high level. Both teams had undergone a lot of changes but still had a huge amount of experience in comparison to us. Durham Roller Derby we of course knew well and the newbies to the tier, Sunderland Roller Derby, felt like teams we could compete against. So we set our team and personal targets for each game – not really considering or thinking about positioning or rankings – we simply wanted to put up a more competitive fight than we had the previous year.
Game one was rescheduled thanks to the crazy winter weather, and so our first game ended up being against the only team who had remained in our tier from last year; Durham Roller Derby.
This game was a massive yard stick for us to see how we had progressed from last year’s score of 219 – 80 – a clear win for them. We played that game with our hearts on our sleeves and for me personally, it felt like the best game I have played in a long time. Things just seemed to click in so many places. The score was so close for the whole game and as a spectator, I can only imagine how exciting it was to have one lead change following another over and over again! The final 10 or 15 minutes saw us pull away a lead and most importantly, hold on to it.
With a final score of 202-147, victory was ours. We surprised and surpassed ourselves!
In the days following our win, we received word that a complaint had been made to British Championships that we had fielded an illegal skater – something we absolutely felt we did not do. We read and re-read the contract both before and after the game to ensure that any skater we had on our roster was eligible to play. This skater was a fully paid up member of DCRA, contributed to the league and made the attendance cut, they weren’t involved in the British Championships in any other capacity either on a charter or roster, but did train and play with another team. We knew of several other skaters who were competing in British Championships under similar circumstances and so we felt we had interpreted the rules correctly. It has been an almighty shit storm to say the least.
To have all that amazing, positive affirmation from our game rubbed away on a technicality, on a rule that is ambiguous to say the least, has been a bitter pill to swallow. But it has been swallowed and despite numerous other teams and officials taking issue with the exact same stipulation, we unfortunately lost our fight – our game was voided and turned into a 200-0 loss. We were devastated but there’s nothing we can do about it. They made their decision and we had to carry on the rest of the season – playing our next two most challenging opponents back to back. GULP!
Furness Firecrackers were churning out some humongous scores against other teams in our tier and had also built their team during the season with some frankly AMAZING transfers. We had the absolute honour of taking to the track against them in a game that will not be forgotten by anyone who was there – it was the day of THE MIGHTY SEVEN. Just 7 of us were available on game day due to injuries, illness and personal reasons, but we aren’t the type of people to quit – not now, not ever.
So, we put on our big girl pants and gave it absolutely everything. It was probably painful at times to watch – blockers were on track for 4 jams in a row with one jam to rest, our jammers (all 2 of them!) had to play a smart game to try and conserve energy where they could. We literally couldn’t even think straight by the end due to the complete exhaustion. But despite all of that, we managed to put 65 points on the board against their 375. We lost that game, but I think we won so much more from it. Furness Firecrackers are literally THE BEST bunch of people! They are so supportive and encouraging and we’ve invited ourselves to their training sessions through the summer to learn from them. They were a dominate force all season and well-deserved winners of our tier – tier three is just the beginning for these guys!
Spa Town was an interesting game. From the scores in previous games they felt ‘reachable’ and we didn’t want to have another 300+ score put on us. But equally, we knew this team were very strong. They had the holy trinity of nippy and edgy jammers, tactically aware blockers, and some mean effective offence. They were gonna take some beating.
The first 10 or 15 mins of the game were a bit of a blur. They were doing exactly what Hull had done to us in our friendly last year – dominating the jam line. DAMMITT! They had some scary side eye going on and it rattled us for the first few jams. We eventually found our rhythm, but it wasn’t enough to bring the scores closer and in the second half, they continued to edge ahead and took that win. It wasn’t our best performance by a long stretch and our training didn’t click – it was a frustrating game and goes to show that even when things are drilled in training, they don’t always show themselves on game day. Next time spa town… Next time 😉😉
Our next blog will focus on our final game of the year against Sunderland Roller Derby.
Photo Credit to Jason Garnett for Games 2 & 3