With bags this big it’s hard to understand how Harrogate has been able to keep this sport a secret for so long.
Helmet – check, elbow pads – check, knee pads – check, wrist guards – check, mouth guard – check, hot pants – um maybe?
Roller Derby came to Harrogate three years ago but until now the Spa Town Roller Girls have been an almost secret society of fast skaters and hard hitters. Next month the curtain will be lifted and the true excitement of this rapidly growing international sport will be open for all to see.
Now, this is not for the faint hearted! Roller derby is a sport which pulls together shoulder and hip checks often found in ice hockey, braced walls used by riot police and jumps that wouldn’t be out of place on the runway to the sand pit at the Olympics – all the while on quad roller skates. It’s impressive even before you see the fashionable uniforms!
Harrogate’s female only team consists of 20+ skaters who batter and bruise each other in two 30 minute halves consisting of a number of 2 minute jams. During each jam, five players from each team use offensive and defensive manoeuvres to help their point scorer (the Jammer) get through 8 blockers (the Pack) while stopping the opposing Jammer from doing the same. Once the jammer’s through, they race the oval track and rush to get through the pack again to pick up points. It’s fast paced, energetic and family friendly. There’s music, announcers, craft stalls and even face painting.
On 5 September 2015 you can witness this sport in action at Harrogate Ladies College where the Spa Town Roller Girls will take on the Fierce Valley Roller Girls in stage three of the T4 British Champs. Spa Town come into the bout on the back of a successful trip to Glasgow, where they battled hard against the Voodoo Roller Dollies of Falkirk to win 370-121
Spa Town Roller Girls captain, Nicole Turner, who skates under the name ‘Sweetbunz’ said:
It would be amazing for the people of our home town to come and see us play. We’re in great form, having won three bouts in a row and it’s such a brilliant game to watch, we know they’ll fall in love with it.”
If the thrilling spectacle of your local roller derby team whizzing round the track during the bout piques your interest, Spa Town are beginning their Fresh Meat programme for new members again for 2015 the day after.
Anyone keen to find out more about playing roller derby, becoming a referee or signing up as an official can drop into the girls’ training session at the college at 3:30pm on Sunday 6 September 2015 and meet the team, ask questions and watch an intra-league bout between members of the squad.