So… Roller Derby


In recent times, NG has started to attend and take an interest in the sport on wheels that is Roller Derby. Despite some people’s assumptions, including my formerly ignorant self, there’s a lot more to this sport than just a bunch of girls parading around in roller skates. Truth be told though, when I first attended a match I was low on sleep and as a result my ability to truly understand what was going on was at an all-time low. The game is fast paced, high impact and, even if you don’t have a clue what’s going on the first time round, a highly enjoyable watch. Reader be warned though, it is by no means a sport for the faint hearted as there are crashes and near misses aplenty, even for those brave enough to sit that little bit closer to the action.

Like many a budding fan, my initial interest, and limited knowledge, was provided by the film ‘Whip It’. ‘Whip It’ is the story of a miserable teenager (played by Ellen Page) who finds excitement and solace in the form of roller derby, and, despite that rather blunt synopsis, is well worth a watch. The film offers a brief and entertaining look into the sport, but unfortunately leans towards the glamorous and violent aspects of the game, rather than the game play itself. So, with only this limited knowledge to hand I was less than prepared for what was in store.

Although the game does have its fair share of violence, it is primarily a tactical game. The game is played in a series of jams (not the strawberry kind) and primarily the goal is for one of the players to break from the group and score the all-important points. Now, if this still sounds simple enough, stay tuned for my interview with ‘Whip Me Houston’  (who has played for The ‘Norn Iron Maidens) who offers up a more concise and detailed break down of the rules, as well as her own experiences and opinions of the game (though if you can’t wait till then, Google is your friend).

Unfortunately, until recently, I was unaware that roller derby was played on an international scale, and instead naively believed that it had only been played by Ellen Page-like girls, sometime back in the 70s. However in more recent years, the sport has really grown and has begun to attract a larger fan base. Further to this, numerous male teams have joined the fray and have begun to try their hand at this, somewhat uniquely, female-dominated sport. My respect for the sport really developed, when I went to my first live match, played by the local and talented players from ‘The Belfast Banshees’ and ‘The Norn Iron Maidens’, as I truly saw for the first time that there was more to this sport than I originally believed.

To add further fuel to my fire, DC themselves have begun to take an interest in the sport which, being NG’s resident DC nerd, made me feel like ‘Steve Trevor’ on ‘Paradise Island’. In one of their more recent additions to the ‘New 52’, ‘Harley Quinn’, dons the roller derby gear and tries her hand in what transpires to be one of the most hilarious pieces of Comic Book Literature I’ve ever laid hands on, which, given my collection, is really saying something.

In all, you can probably gather that I’ve developed a budding interest in the sport, to say the least. So if you too would like to delve further into the world of roller derby stay tuned, or, alternatively, ‘Whip-It’ is available to download…

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