I feel stupid for volunteering to NSO for Vice Quad versus Hades. I had a vested interest in not volunteering as this was the first time I was going to a merby (men’s roller derby) game, as well the first time I would get to see Vice Quad play – once I get good I’m hoping to play for them. But volunteer I had, which meant no shouting, biased facial expressions or whoops, combined with having to concentrate on my role in the penalty box. I’d also asked Wolverine Bruise and Quay Figs of Vice Quad to show me how to lay the track, which involves a lot more equipment and elbow grease than I’d imagined, so I was kinda relieved when play was starting.
The two teams playing today had already met some of each other’s players on Vice Quad’s tour in the mystical Scotchland (I may have that wrong), and both teams were running short rosters with 8 skaters apiece, so fatigue was likely to be an issue for both teams with some difficult decisions to be made about rotation. Hades had left Glasgow that morning and picked up players on route for the game so were a bit of an unknown force.
Hades came dressed in lurid pink contrast to Vice Quad’s black uniforms and were fronting two quick and wirey jammers covered in face paint: Rollerphobia and Whyte & MacDie. The game opened much harder than I imagined it would with some big takedowns – when this happened between skaters of different mass it seemed close to bursting them!
Vice Quad’s WalMark got a really early power jam when Rollerphobia cut track, scoring 14 points in the first five minutes. In a later jam the returning Rollerphobia got his own back when Vice Quad’s jammer Luklear Blast got sent to the box, with the scores evening up to Vice Quad 37, Hades 30 – this was looking to be an exciting game!
Hades two regular jammers Rollerphobia and White&Macdie were displaying huge bursts of speed and plenty of flair on their way through the pack, but Rollerphobia seemed to be struggling to keep in bounds, picking up more cut tracks to his annoyance and handing more power jams Bristol’s way, which were definitely taken advantage of despite the solid Hades’ blockers making life difficult.
During the whole game both teams used some really aggressive recycling, which was clearly taking its toll on the jammers – I’d been warned how demoralising this can be, but watching it in action you could see jammers visibly slumping when their work was undone. With less than one minute left on the first period clock, the referees called an additional penalty on Rollerphobia – having had cut track one too many times and fouled out, he had to take his skates off to join the Hades supporters who had also travelled down that morning. When the whistle called the end of the first half, the standing score was 119 to Vice Quad to Hades’ 60 – I’d seen a bigger score turnaround two weeks before so there was still everything to play for.
Hades had apparently had a good tactical discussion during the break and the game seemed much closer fought in the second half. HTM Hell received a hard offensive block that put him down on an early jam, something I had not seen before. In jam four of period two, Luklear Blast seemed to mystically melt through the tight defence on the furthest apex from me with a couple of twists of his hips – I wish I’d been closer to see how! Maybe there IS magic in meggings….
The impact of the short rosters was now taking its toll and Vice Quad were regularly fielding blockers for 3 or more jams at a time. Now from my perspective in the sin bin Vice Quad seemed to be getting sent off more than Hades, with the balance of power jams going the other way. Vice Quad’s defence were making them work hard though, with only a few high scoring jams through their wall.
Well into the second half Vice Quad receive a power jam for a full two minutes – Hades went on with the wrong helmet covers! Don’t think that’s a mistake anyone would make twice in the same game… Vice Quad took the opportunity to rack up the points with the score now Vice Quad’s 168 to Hades’ 98.
With just two minutes left on the clock, jammer Luklear Blast fouled out – his first foul out in a Vice Quad game. I’ve been told that if you’re not close to fouling out you probably weren’t playing hard enough, so I think it was well deserved.
When the last of the four whistles blew the score stood at 223 Vice Quad and 131 Hades, confirmed moments later by the referees.
As is the tradition both teams chose their favourite players and handed out awards; for Vice Quad, HTM Hell received best blocker, MVP went to Lion-O Yeah!, and the Best Jammer was awarded to WalMark. Hades’ Best Blocker award went to Buckingham Malice, MVP was BruiseDog and Best Jammer went to Whyte & Macdie.
As seems to be the tradition after matches most of both teams ended up in the pub for banter and booze with their support teams. Seriously, there were chicken wings everywhere.
I’m not sure I could have asked for a better first Vice Quad experience – now I’m even more desperate to get involved in the action!
– Monkey Boy