Class of 2011 – Fresh Meat get ready to graduate

When Bristol Roller Derby (BRD) opened its doors for try-outs in March 2011 the organisers had no idea what they had let themselves in for. Instead of recruiting just enough skaters to cover costs, they were faced with the difficult chore of whittling nearly 100 derby-girls-in-waiting down to the maximum number – two dozen – that could be accommodated on the course.

This was the final intake of new skaters for the foreseeable future, as BRD had grown large so fast it was becoming necessary to stop recruitment and take stock of what they had, building on strengths and talents within the group to reinforce the aims of the League before taking on any more skaters.

This last group became Fresh Meat 2011, and after spending 2011 learning how to (safely) knock each other down in style, they are about to graduate. Following 9 months of literal blood, sweat and tears, the newest members of BRD are preparing for their graduation bout, a friendly game played against each other in the privacy of their practice hall, which will mark the end of their probationary training period and the beginning of their lives as players for one of BRD’s home teams. They have submitted themselves for the draft to either Daughters of Anarchy, Smash Vandals or Project Mayhem and – while they look forward to their new teams with fierce intensity – they express nothing but love, admiration and a deep respect for their fellow ‘Meaties’, their coaches and their teammates-to-be.

The demographic of the group is incredibly varied. The skaters range in age from 20 to “certainly older than you might think I am” and the careers they represent “in real life” include administration, physiotherapy, insurance adjustment and photography. One skater is a Cabin Crew member for a major airline and brings her uniform to practice when she’s on standby, just in case. They are mothers, wives and girlfriends and while they do exhibit a liking for tattoos and hair dye, not all look like the mainstream stereotype of “the derby girl”. Rachel “Ac!d Drop” Britton, a Senior Pharmaceutical Advisor for the NHS explained “My tattoos are strategically placed – they’re on show when I want them to be but they cover up completely for work. I am absolutely professional during the week but I can still show my roller girl colours when it counts!” Outside of practice, suits and dresses, jeans and t-shirts are just as prevalent in their wardrobes as hot-pants and crazy-colour tights. Roller Derby doesn’t make a girl’s wardrobe go wild – sometimes it just encourages pre-existing tendencies to emerge.

No sports league would be complete without an all-star team, and BRD is no exception. Their travel team, the Harbour Harlots, have gone from strength to strength this year, relishing victory and taking defeat in their stride as they strive to become the dominant team in the South West in 2012. While it is rare for a newly-qualified skater to be drafted straight to the travel team, it isn’t unheard of, and some of the new grads will certainly stand a chance. Asked what she thought about landing a spot on the Harlots, Sorrel “Hattie Flattener” Sparks replied:“The thought of being instantly drafted onto the Travel Team fills me with equal measures of knee wobbling excitement and teeth clenching terror! I will get there one day, but will have to rely on hard work and determination rather than natural ability.” Clearly, these girls are prepared to work for their dreams.

Regardless of what teams they end up on, 2012 is certain to be an amazing 12 months for the new recruits of Bristol Roller Derby, and another exciting and successful year for the league as a whole.

Written by Red October (aka Mia Gilson)

Bristol Roller Derby Roll Up the Funds for Local Charity ONE 25

Many have cycled the 16mile track from Bristol to Bath for its beautiful scenery, but not so many have attempted the route on roller skates. This difficult task didn’t deter 12 women from Bristol Roller Derby, who completed the challenge last month in less than four hours, and raised a grand total of £1022.00 for their league, and local charity One 25.

Roller derby is a female-only, full-contact sport played on quad roller skates and the league is completely skater owned and funded. Such fundraising events are essential to keep the sport of Roller Derby alive in Bristol.

Half of the sponsorship money raised has been donated to the Bristol-based charity One25. Since 1995, One25 has been supporting street-working women to escape the streets and build a life free from violence, poverty and addiction.

Gemma Green, 33, from Clifton took part in the skate. She said: “An underlying ethos of roller derby is to connect and empower women from all walks of life to be positive, focused and confident. This is reflected in the aims of One25 and it is great that we can help them to achieve this by sharing some of our funds raised.”

Josie Hill, from One 25, said: “We are very grateful to the Bristol Roller Derby league for recognising our work with vulnerable women in our city and supporting One25 so generously. The £500 raised by Bristol Roller Derby will make a big difference in supporting more local women to achieve their dreams: a life free from the abuses of the streets, reuniting with lost friends and family and finding their true potential in our soon to be launched skills development centre.”

The Bristol Roller Derby League was founded in April 2010 and they are always looking at inventive ways to raise funds, as well as currently looking into sponsorship opportunities.

Gemma continued: “Fundraising events such as the Bristol to Bath skate bring a real sense of camaraderie to the team and despite having very tired legs, we had such fun that many of the girls have even gone on to complete a 26 mile Roller Marathon at Goodwood”.

Further details of Bristol Roller Derby events, public bouts and sponsorship opportunities can be found at

For more information about One 25 visit

For more information or images please contact Brooke Nolan on or 07769184276.

One25 has been supporting vulnerable women and their families in Bristol since 14 May 1995. It offers night outreach, a friendly drop-in centre with a range of professional services and a unique mother and baby home – the only one in the country for mothers escaping sex-work. The charity’s mission is to reach out to women trapped in street sex-work, supporting them to break free and build new lives away from violence, poverty and addiction. For more information please visit or call Josie Hill on 0117 909 8832.

Bristol Harbour Harlots show Gloucester the pain

Crowd pleasing hits at Painspotting Roller Derby bout
Photo courtesey of Matthew Roach

Better late than never…! Here’s our report on the recent Painspotting bout held here in Bristol on 9 July. This was only the second home bout in Bristol’s derby history, and once again we packed the place. Rowdy derby fans came from near and far to watch our beloved, brutal sport (and to eat our luscious cupcakes). We hear some Swansea City Slayers even showed up!

Back in December of last year the Bristol Harbour Harlots bravely faced Gloucester’s Severn Roller Torrent, and were soundly defeated 138-60. It was clear that the Harlots had some work to do. And work they did! After a few months of intense training, not to mention some excellent guest coaching and a couple derby bootcamps, the Harlots invited SRT to Bristol for a re-match. This time the story was quite different, with the Harlots maintaining control of the entire game and taking the win 195-91.

Bristol Roller Deby: Painspotting
Photo courtesey of Matthew Roach

To get right to the point, that was some great roller derby, y’all! Both teams worked extremely hard, and the crowd not only got to see some super hard hits but some excellent strategies. Jammer penalties on both teams led to some intense power jams, racking up lots of points – always great fun to watch. The Harlots offered a deep bench of skilled jammers, maintaining those much-needed fresh legs throughout the bout. And not only that but each jammer brought her own unique strengths to the game, really keeping SRT on their toes. This, combined with fantastic communication and blocking, worked to their advantage. Gloucester was able to pick up quite a few points throughout the game though, taking Bristol by surprise with some impressive footwork and heavy blocks, and often sneaking through the pack before the Harlots could call off the jams.

Katie Clysmic holds her own against Helen Fury's solid blocks
Photo courtesey of Matthew Roach

Rumour has it that UWE staff thought this was one of the most organised sporting events they’d seen in a while, and we were all really proud of ourselves too – from the fans to the refs, cake bakers to derby widows, all hands were on deck to make this not only a win for the Harlots, but a win for Bristol Roller Derby. We should also mention that we totally won the after party too!

If you haven’t yet joined the Harlots on Facebook, it’s about time you did. Come see us at and keep an eye out for the next bout!

Written by La Calavera #420


Bristol Roller Derby II from Sera Pickering Pick on Vimeo.

Roll Up for the Hottest Sponsorship Opportunity Around

Local businesses are being given the opportunity to raise their profile with a unique opportunity – sponsoring Bristol’s roller derby league.

Bristol Roller Derby player in action - Tattoed Terror
Bristol Roller Derby member, Tattooed Terror, in action

Roller derby is a fast, full-contact, women-only sport played on quad skates. It combines athleticism – players train for up to 8 hours per week – with a sense of fun and showmanship. Players have alter-ego names such as Tattooed Terror and Ruby Whipper.

Established in May 2010, Bristol Roller Derby has grown to become one of the UK’s largest leagues with over 70 skaters and four teams: the travel team, Bristol Harbour Harlots; and three home teams, the Smash Vandals, Daughters of Anarchy and Project Mayhem.

The league is currently looking for sponsorship to help fund its expansion, and allow it to host regular competitive bouts.

Tuisku Sarrala, the league’s chairperson, said: “The interest in roller derby in the city – both from those who are involved and from fans – has been overwhelming.

“But it’s hard work. We are entirely skater-owned and managed, and like roller derby leagues the world over, we are grassroots and DIY. Everything from coaching to artwork is done by unpaid members or volunteers.”

The league believes it can offer businesses in the region a unique and exciting sponsorship opportunity and has created a flexible selection of sponsorship packages – from one-off advertisements to year-round deals – to suit all budgets and requirements.

The Bristol Roller Derby team
The Bristol Roller Derby team

Tuisku continued: “Members of the league are made up of all ages from 18 to mid 40s. They come from all walks of life, from stay-at-home mums to lawyers, midwives, graphic artists, fraud investigators, photographers and dog groomers.

“The target audience for roller derby is just as broad and diverse; it draws from those who enjoy physical, hard-hitting sports as well as those who seek out unusual and fun entertainment. We have built up an incredibly loyal fanbase and are confident that we can offer businesses a good return on their investment.”

WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) research* found that two-thirds of all fans know the businesses that support their local derby league, and nearly 90 per cent hold a favourable opinion of these businesses.

“We have grown rapidly into one of the UK’s largest leagues, and by sponsoring us you will gain access to the loyal fans we attract,” concludes Tuisku. “Your business can be associated with a sport that is fast, fun and furious. The women who play are athletes with a difference; they are fearless, determined and they embody female empowerment.”

Bristol Roller Derby regularly pulls in hundreds of people at its fundraising evenings and bouts, and its most recent ‘fresh meat’ intake (the affectionate term used for new skaters) saw over 100 enquiries and 60 women turn up for try outs.

The travel team’s first ever home bout on Saturday 9th July, which saw the team win by a 100 point difference against Gloucester, attracted over 400 members of the Bristol public. The league has since secured a larger venue for future bouts to cater for up to 600 fans.

If you would like to sponsor Bristol Roller Derby or would like to find out more, visit, email or phone Brooke Nolan on 0776918426.

*This research was undertaken in America. No similar research has been completed yet in the UK.

BRD Flea Market brings in the bucks

Clothes, cakes and crafting were the order of the day for Bristol Roller Derby Flea Market, held at The Lanes on Sunday 26th June. Despite what appeared to be a mini heat wave, the crowds found the allure of fresh-baked cakes, pasties and the obligatory pint too much of a draw.

With mountains of clothes, books and handmade goodies on offer, the great Bristol public managed to bag a bargain or three. From jewellery and bric-a-brac to a fully-functioning tuba and sparkly dancing shoes, there was something for everyone.

Youngsters were kept amused by the Kiddies’ Craft and Baking area where they were able to decorate biscuits and sell them on the cake stall while the cut –price bowling attracted the more sporting attendees.

Flea market overview
Flea market overview
Glorious chocolate brownies
Glorious chocolate brownies
A happy punter overjoyed to find the perfect cupcake
A happy punter overjoyed to find the perfect cupcake

And let’s not forget the cakes. Having cemented our reputation as a number one cake-baking bunch of Roller girls, we certainly didn’t disappoint – scrummy cake-pops, pasties, Victoria sponge, and the now infamous Oreo cookie cupcakes were piled high, though not for long.Speaking in between bites of cake, BRD’s head of PR, Brookiller de’Vil said: “We’ve had a great day and most important of all, we have raised £410 for the League. I’ve got myself a dress and some killer heels, so I’m very happy! A big thank you to everyone who donated their items and time – it’s much appreciated!”BRD is planning on holding another Flea Market in July, so watch this space for further details of time and venues as well as how you can take part or donate.

One man's junk is another man's treasure!
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure!
Killer has had a bit too much sugar ;-)
Killer has had a bit too much sugar
Browsing the goodies
A bargain hunter browses the goodies
Fabulous handmade crafts were up for grabs
Fabulous handmade crafts were up for grabs
Clothes, clothes glorious clothes
Clothes, clothes glorious clothes
La Calavera samples the Cake-pops
La Calavera samples the Cake-pops


Written by Twisterella AKA, Verity Gough

Bristol Roller Derby Smashed It!

Bristol’s first live Roller Derby event was an amazing success, and the Daughters of Anarchy, Project Mayhem and the Smash Vandals took to the track to play in front of a sell out crowd.

First of all the Smash Vandals took on Project Mayhem, winning 57 points to 19. Next Project Mayhem took to the track once more to take on the Daughters of Anarchy in a nail biting bout that had the two teams neck and neck for most of the game, with DoA clinching it in the end by taking the extra points to win 58 to 46.

In the final bout of the day, the Smash Vandals returned to the track to take on the Daughters of Anarchy, and after 30 minutes of amazing derby deeds took victory with a fantastic 60 points to 35.

Bristol Roller Derby: 21 May 2011 from Sera Pickering Pick on Vimeo.

Daughters of Anarchy
Project Mayhem
Smash Vandals
Ship Shape & Bristol SMASH’EM!
The Referees

Message to Prospective Fresh Meat

There has been a great deal of interest in our new intake of fresh meat, and unfortunately we can only take a limited number of skaters. Therefore we will be holding try-outs for those interested in joining us.

There will be two try-out days – to get a place on a try-out day please email bristolrollerderby (@) (if you have not already received an email or message specifying if you should attend on the 6th or the 13th). There is essential information that all attendees must have, otherwise you may unfortunately not be able to take part.

The session will run from 10am-12pm at Merchants Academy sports centre in Withywood, please ensure you arrive on time. The cost of the session will be £3.50, plus £1.50 if you require kit hire.

You must be over 18 yrs of age to play, therefore you will need to bring photo ID (passport or driving licence) with your date of birth on, as well as a photocopy of your ID for us to keep on record, without this you will not be allowed to skate. Roller Derby, being a contact sport on roller skates, has its hazards and therefore on arrival you will need to fill out a disclaimer and also an emergency contact and medical details form.

The session will be split between on-skate and off-skate activities and you will find out more about the sport and our league, so please make sure you bring trainers, also if you own any quad skates or protective equipment please bring it, as our hire kit is very limited.

During the sessions you will be observed by the coaches, please don’t be put off attending if you can’t skate or are not particularly fit, we are not just looking for good skaters but for people who show potential and are committed to playing Roller Derby.

In order to be selected for the new fresh meat intake you will also need to be able to commit to Sunday training sessions which will be 11am- 12pm from the 20th of March, and then move to 12-2pm from the 10th of April.

Many thanks and we look forward to meeting you!

Fresh Meat Intake


There has been a great deal of interest in our new intake of fresh meat, and unfortunately we can only take a limited number of skaters. Therefore we will be holding try-outs for those interested in joining us.

Please email bristolrollerderby (@) if you have not received an email or message specifying if you should attend on the 6th or the 13th. There is essential information that all attendees must have, otherwise you may unfortunately not be able to take part.

Many thanks and we look forward to meeting you!

On the 6th and 13th of March from 11am-12pm we will be holding Fresh Meat try-outs at Merchants Academy Sports Centre for those interested in playing Roller Derby, merby or reffing. The cost of the session will be £3.50. Protective equipment including helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards are required. We have a limited amount of protective equipment and skates available to hire at a cost of £1.50 for the session.

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