If you weren’t lucky enough to be at the Roller Derby World Cup in December last year, then make sure you read our report from Bryan Mcwilliam aka Flyinâ€™ Bryan Killman, manager of Chicks Ahoy! of Toronto Roller Derby and a freelance journalist from Toronto. He has covered roller derby for Gear Up For Sports and his writing portfolio can be viewed at Bryan McWilliam.com
Itâ€™s been just over a month since the first-ever Roller Derby World Cup took place in Toronto, Canada. The event, which was organized by Blood and Thunder Magazine, in conjunction with Toronto Roller Derby, was a major success selling out every day. Fans from all over the globe attended The Bunker to watch 13 teams compete for the title of world champion.
Amongst the teams was Scotland, a new comer to the world derby picture. The ladies in blue and white came into the tournament as an underdog, having ended up in the same pool as USA, the tournament favourite, and a tough squad from New Zealand.
Aside from a team practice, the jet-lagged and tired Scottish team rested on day one of the tournament as they prepared to awake bright and early to battle New Zealand on day two.
The Scots left the Kiwis battered and bruised after the early round match-up; although, New Zealand walked away victorious 124-107. Marla Mayhem, Blazin Phoenix, Clinically Wasted and Marshall Lawless formed an admirable jamming core for Scotland with Lawless scoring a 30 point jam, while Minnie Riot, Lily Lethal and Danger Mouth created havoc in the pack.
Combine the tough opening bout with an eventual match-up and loss to the powerhouse USA by a score of 435-1 and Scotland may have had the hardest opening round of any team in the tournament.
Despite the losses, Scotland delivered some of the most exciting moments of the Cup in the opening round. The match-up against New ZealandÂ was one of, if not the best bout of the second day, while the lone point scored by Wild Oates against USA caused a huge ovation from the capacity crowd which could only be matched by a few Team Canada moments.
The tough opening round landed Scotland in last place, thanks to the USA point differential, which meant they were handed the task of trying to defeat the fourth ranked Australian squad in the opening elimination round. Australia was on fire and would be a daunting mission for the Scots, their third brutally tough bout of the day.
Scotland continued to do two things against Australia; fight hard and get into penalty trouble. Frequent trips to the box for their blocking core, combined with power jam opportunities for Australia allowed them to defeat Scotland 251-48. Marla Mayhem and Marshall Lawless continued to play well as jammers, while Minnie Riot and Crazy Legs deserve credit for their pack play.
Scottish triple threat Fight Cub provided some late game entertainment for the fans, as she got a little â€œcheeky,â€ making faces at Australiaâ€™s Slawta Dawta, while trying to positional block her, with 2 minutes left in the bout.
With the possibility of winning the tournament now gone, it was obvious that the Scottish team was disappointed as they hugged one another at the end of the bout against Australia.
The loss did not seem to change their mindset as the tournament continued into the placement rounds that began on Saturday morning.
After a rough patch of bouts on day two, the Scottish team came into their early morning bout against Argentina with a look of rejuvenation, which was surely aided by some much-needed rest.
The rest helped the Scots. They managed to fend off an impressive performance from Charginâ€™ Tina and used their size and hitting ability to defeat the South Americans for their first win of the tournament 114-91.
Penalty trouble for Scotland haunted them yet again, but they managed to work around their troubles this time. Consistent lead jammer opportunities allowed Blazin Phoenix and Clinically Wasted to earn some big pick-ups for Scotland while Whiskey Galore delivered a few huge hits on the opposition.
The hard-fought victory was a sigh of relief for Scottish fans and a big weight off the shoulders of the team.
Scotland moved onward into the tournament trying to improve their overall seeding.
They battled hard against Germany, but ended up on the losing end of things 104-41. A dreadful first half plagued the Scots in this bout, but they showed spirit and mental toughness by battling back in the second half, despite the huge deficit.
They brought the continued momentum from the bout with Germany into their final bout of the World Cup against Brazil. They showed the derby world that they still had some gas in the tank defeating the Brazilians 113-64. The victory secured an 11th place finish in the cup, ahead of both Brazil and Argentina.
Scottish people are notoriously tough and the same could be said about that of the countryâ€™s derby team. Team Scotland played a brutally physical game throughout the tournament, which landed them in the penalty box on several occasions. They showed their oppositions that they mean business and will certainly be a country to watch out for in the future, as the sport of derby takes the world by storm.
With their sore bodies, aching bones and tired minds all back to form, I managed to secure interviews with a few of the ladies from Team Scotland to see what they thought of the experience.
â€œIt was a massive honour and I was really proud to be a part of such a massive event. I’ve worked hard to get to this far so it feels really good to have that recognised,â€ stated Jill Stephen a.k.a Fight Cub, a triple threat that played on the Scottish team.
The native of Aberdeen went on to name some of her personal highlights for the tournament, â€œPersonal highlights were getting to play USA. I got to play against people who I’ve stayed up until 3 a.m. to watch on DNN. It was like playing against all my idols and I loved every minute.â€
She was happy to learn something from the World Cup and was proud of how her team played, â€œI learned that I can always strive to be better. Until I am MVP of the tournament I will have things to work on and ways to progress,â€ answered the fiery skater. â€œI feel Scotland was definitely up against it for various reasons and we played well but we never really showed our true potential and how well we can really play. Hopefully, the team will get a few bouts organised so we can keep training together and keep moving forward.â€
Off-track running the lines as manager for Team Scotland, alongside coach Knuckles, was Tarce Fleming a.k.a Tarcenic and Old Laces. The intensity throughout the cup was apparent in her expression, as she tried to keep her squad focussed on their task at hand.
What did Tarce think of the World Cup as a whole?
â€œThe whole World Cup experience was utterly fantastic for each and everyone one of Team Scotland. It didnâ€™t seem real until we were actually there and in the same room as all the derby superstars,â€ responded the Team’s excited manager.
â€œOur first game against New Zealand was fantastic. A close game is so much more enjoyable for everyone involved, from skaters to audience and that one really could have gone either way,â€ explained the Glasgow native.
â€œObviously Oates scoring our point against USA was the highlight of the whole tournament (for everyone there possibly) and the look of pure joy on Clinically Wasted’s face when she got thru the pack was amazing too,â€ said Tarce.
â€œI was so happy when we got wins against Argentina and Brazil; the girls really deserved those and I was so proud of them. As line-up manager I didnâ€™t really get to actually watch much of our games so I am really looking forward to watching the DVDs, perhaps with a cheeky wee vodka diet coke in hand,â€ finished Fleming.
â€œI don’t know if there are words that can convey just how thrilled, proud & exhilarated it felt to be a part of the Scottish team & represent my country at the first ever Roller Derby World Cup,â€ remarked veteran skater Alma Geddon, who played against some of the toughest blockers in the world at the cup.
The majority of those tough blockers were courtesy of USA, what did it feel like for her to play against the best in the world, â€œDuring the game I found the US players to appear to be made of one of two things: smoke – they could be completely evasive – they are obviously telepathic & psychic as they always know what their opponents are thinking & what they are about to do and rock – when I did manage to make any contact with them it was like banging myself against rolling rocks,â€ added the Edinburgh native.
Alma added her personal highlights which included: Saturday night’s impromptu pool party, making so many wonderful new derby pals, & further cementing some already existing derby friendships, Scotland winning the after-party, partying with the Irish ladies after the after-party, singing â€œFlower of Scotlandâ€ at the opening ceremony with her team-mates, New Zealand’s â€œHaka,â€ shouting Team England on & seeing them do so well,Â being asked for her autograph and of course, the one point Scotland scored in the USA game.
The entire country of Scotland were obviously proud of the teamâ€™s performance at the cup, winning two bouts, despite being new to the sport of derby, but the team itself seemed more then happy with its inaugural World Cup appearance.
The future is bright for roller derby in Scotland. The skaters and coaches who represented the country in December will surely pass along the plethora of experience and knowledge they acquired at the cup and the sport will continue to flourish.
Watch out Scotland, roller derby is here to stay!