From Skate Skills to Ref Skills

Phil tells us all about their journey so far in training to become a referee and the fun they’ve been having! If officiating is something that you would like to do, then email and they will give you all the information you need.

Hi, my name is Phil and I’m training to become a Referee with Auld Reekie Roller Girls just now. It’s taken me quite some time to get this far, but the journey has been fun!

I have just completed my first block of Skate Skills 101 (AKA Fresh Meat), where I’ve been learning how to skate, how to brake, how to jump and how to fall – and had a blast doing so! It has not only been great for my skating abilities but also my confidence, and the fun we’ve had as a group made these 14 weeks so memorable and entertaining. I have also been going along to practice scrimmages where I’ve been learning the importance of Non-Skating Official (NSO) roles and getting to see the game played up close. There is also a group that meets before scrims where I have had the opportunity to learn the rules of the game with others, which has been a great way of getting to grips with the technical side and figuring it out together, rather than studying the rules or watching YouTube videos in isolation.

It seems that for a lot of people Roller Derby is their first engagement in sport since they were at school – this is absolutely the case for me. To be honest for some time I didn’t see myself getting beyond watching bouts being played. I was interested in and enjoyed skating, and would go to Sk8ercise classes and roller discos, but whenever a friend would suggest I go to Skate Skills I would come up with an excuse, usually a legitimate one, but an excuse nonetheless. The problem I’ve always had is I’m simply not a competitive person (well I am, but only with myself) and when I finally used this excuse with my friend they replied with an answer I couldn’t wriggle out of: ‘Then you should ref!’ and that was the moment I knew there might be a place for me in Roller Derby.

This first round of Skate Skills I was mainly focussing on the basics of skating, and that has paid off. I had been skating for about a year and a half before I felt confident enough to give this a try and these past weeks of Skate Skills have made me a far better skater. I’ve still plenty to learn, but that’s what keeps it fun, and now that I feel more comfortable on eight wheels I can spend more time on the game theory.

Chances are if you’re reading this then you have heard it said that Roller Derby is one of, if not the fastest growing sport. I don’t know if there are stats to back that up, but from my own experience I can believe it. At work for example, when I bring up the subject I am surprised at how often the reply would be along the lines of ‘oh yeah, my friend plays’ – even if you don’t play, chances are you know someone who does, or at least you know someone who knows someone that does. Try playing a game of six degrees(derbys?) of separation, you might be surprised!

The appeal for so many will naturally be playing on a team, and why wouldn’t it be? It must be so exhilarating to be the Jammer, perhaps you like the idea of the multifaceted nature of the Pivot, or the team(pack?)work of a Blocker – without them you don’t have a team. But without the NSOs, without the Referees you don’t have a game, and without technicians, announcers, stall vendors and ticket sellers you don’t have an event. The biggest, most surprising thing I learned is just how many people it takes for a bout to even happen.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re interested in the game, but playing isn’t your thing, there is a very good chance there is a place for you. While learning to ref (and to skate!) I am having a great time NSOing – each time I try a new role it seems daunting and intimidating at the start and I wonder how the game can function without somebody in whatever role that might be. It’s a great way to learn the game up close and the truth is you pick up the roles in no time and it gives you such a greater understanding of and appreciation for the workings of the game (End of sales pitch!).

At the time of writing I’ve just begun my second round of Skate Skills, I’m looking forward to NSOing in an upcoming ARRG bout and enjoying meeting more and more awesome people brought together by the madness that is Roller Derby. As I am in the somewhat unique situation of being the only male in Skate Skills at ARRG at present, I sometimes get asked what it’s like training with a female team. All I can do is enthuse at what a fantastic experience it has been so far, it has been a supportive, encouraging and friendly environment. I don’t think I’ve felt as part of a group before in my adult life. As for learning how to ref, there are loads of great resources online, the guys at ARRG have been fantastic at answering questions, the pre-scrims group is super useful and I’ve also recently picked up the boardgame ‘Impact City Roller Derby’, as it’s sometimes good to see how the rules work within a bout at a less chaotic pace! But the next real step is to complete the Minimum Skill Requirements, wish me luck…

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SAMH Charter for Physical Activity and Sport


Auld Reekie Roller Girls are extremely proud to announce that we are one of the first community sports clubs to sign up to Scotland’s Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport!

The SAMH Charter for Physical Activity and Sport aims to improve equality and reduce discrimination for anyone with a mental health problem, ensuring there is no barrier to engaging, participating and achieving in physical activity and sport.

As a signatory we are committed to the following:

1.   Actively promoting inclusive practice and ensuring a positive and welcoming environment for all.

2.   Developing inclusive policies and practices which are informed by the inclusion of mental health in strategic planning.

3.   Actively encouraging participation and promote messages focusing on the benefits of physical activity on mental health.

4.   Participating in Scotland’s Mental Health Charter Network supporting meaningful collaboration, sharing resources and best practise.

5.   Routinely reviewing performance and identifying ways to improve working in relation to mental health.

By signing up to the Charter we will helping to create the positive change needed within sport! We want to create an environment that promotes and supports mental wellbeing for all so that we can further our mission in creating a dynamic community that is supportive and inclusive in a competitive environment in which all our members can be the best they can be.

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What Difference Can a Day Make?

It’s International Women’s Day on March 8th, but 2018 has already been dubbed the ‘Year of the Woman’.

January saw the row about the BBC gender pay gap explode back into the news with the resignation of high-profile reporter Carrie Gracie, in protest at being paid significantly less than her male colleagues for the same job.

On February 6th, we marked the 100th anniversary of women being granted the vote in the UK – or at least, women who were over 30 and owned property; it took another ten years for the vote to be given to all women over the age of 21, on equal terms with men.

And of course, the #MeToo, #TimesUp and latterly #AskMoreofHim campaigns have meant a continued international focus on empowering women to speak out about sexual assault, and encouraging men to be part of that sea-change.

Roller derby has not been immune from this focus. While our world is seen by many, from within and outwith, as a safe space for women, as forward thinking and inclusive, the #MeToo spotlight has now shone on the roller derby world too, as revelations of sexual assault and harassment come to the fore and governing bodies scramble to create statements and new policies.

On one hand, this level of action, awareness and change is encouraging. On the other hand, it’s overwhelmingly grim that there is still this level of gender disparity, that there is still such a fight to be fought – particularly in a space that was predominantly built by women and gender non-conforming people.

So really, what difference can one day in March make?

Having just one day means the focus on that day is about worldwide collective action – and that is a powerful force. Gloria Steinem said, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

The Representation of the People Act 2018 was passed after the collective efforts of the women who fought and died for the vote. The BBC are now reviewing their gender pay disparities because of collective efforts. #MeToo has gathered incredible pace because of the deafening volume of the collective voice. There are just three of the many, many collective efforts that have been part of the ongoing fight for gender equality.

And with #MeToo, this collective effort has been because of the power of the hashtag. Social media is often dismissed as a tool for the selfie-obsessed millennial, but it is much more than that. It was reported that post-Weinstein revelations, 4.7 million people around the world engaged in the #MeToo conversation. While it’s important to acknowledge the privilege that goes with regular access to technology and social media, there is no doubt that it is a changing force in the world today, particularly when it comes to activism and identity politics.

And so, with a collective effort combined with social media, International Women’s Day (IWD) can be a stepping stone to real change. And real change doesn’t need to be huge change. Steps can be small, and change can be slow; but it can be progress nonetheless.

The theme for this year’s IWD is #PressForProgress. So much progress has been made in the last hundred years, the last ten years, the last five months… but still there is gender inequality. It can be overwhelming trying to unpack this, so IWD suggest pressing for progress in one or more specific areas within your own sphere of influence:

· maintain a gender parity mindset

· challenge stereotype and bias

· forge positive visibility of women

· influence others’ beliefs and actions

· celebrate women’s achievements

As individuals we might feel we’re already actively working on these, we might choose just one to focus on, or we might choose two or more. We might each interpret them a little differently. But if each of us takes a breath and challenges a stereotypical view of women, for example, then more people will hear that it’s not okay. There’s a powerful five word phrase: what you permit, you promote. If we allow gender disparity or discrimination in any form, however innocuous it may seem, to go by unchecked, the more it is seen by others as acceptable, as the norm. But it is not acceptable, and it is up to us to challenge it.

The conversation around gender, and around equality generally, is an evolving one and as a league, Auld Reekie Roller Girls (ARRG) strives to be open to learning, changing and growing. This is particularly pertinent now, in light of the Scottish Government’s recent consultation on improving the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

ARRG is a women’s roller derby league; we welcome all those who identify as women, trans women, intersex women and/or gender-expansive to train and compete as skaters of ARRG if women’s flat track roller derby is the version and composition of roller derby with which they most closely identify. All genders are welcome to train as skating and non-skating officials, and join as non-skating members in other capacities.

As a league we are explicit in our commitment to equality and positive action, and in our aim to maintain a safe and inclusive environment for all. An important part of this is calling out ourselves and each other; acknowledging when we make mistakes and working on fixing them, learning from them and doing better next time.

We aim to create and maintain a space in which all our members can strive to be the best they can be. We know that for many, being part of the roller derby world has empowered them, given them the confidence and the voice to speak out and to speak up.

As a roller derby league we are part of a positive, unique and revolutionary movement. Every single day we are proud to forge positive visibility of women and gender-expansive folk, and to celebrate our amazing achievements.

And on 8th March, we feel privileged to join the collective efforts of people around the world, and to say that we will continue to #PressForProgress.

(PS. Sometimes, around this time of year, people ask why there isn’t an International Men’s Day. There is.)

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Memories of Meadowbank

Memories of Meadowbank – by Crazylegs

Cold, grey and pretty much falling apart.  It may not look like a palace of dreams, but this city centre sports centre has, for the last nine years, been filled with the most intense of emotions and exertions for Auld Reekie; first game nerves with shaking legs and dry mouths, the elated wins,  the dashed hopes, proud parents, adoring kids, the cheers, the tears and the ever present circle of friendly high fives.  The 3rd of December will mark the closure and demolition of Meadowbank as we know it, and the start of major redevelopment plans to create a new state-of-the-art sports centre.
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Opened by Prince Edward, Duke of Kent on 2 May 1970, Meadowbank was the first stadium ever to host two Commonwealth Games (1970 and 1986), but more importantly, it was also the site of the first public Roller Derby bout in Edinburgh – Fishnet Burns – in January 2009.  Since then, Auld Reekie have made it our home venue, and hosted almost 100 games, boot camps and events there.

Hundreds of spectators experienced their first taste of roller derby in this building and thousands of people from around the globe have skated, officiated, DJ’d, announced, and volunteered in the huge, and familiar Hall 1 at Meadowbank.   It took a wee while to convince the Management at Meadowbank that our sport was legit, and our wheels wouldn’t damage the floor but finally they acquiesced and a beautiful and long standing relationship was formed.  Here are a few of our favourite memories from our times at the hallowed Hall 1.

Fishnet Burns Night

As was usual in 2009, we were short of skaters to make up two teams for our first home game, ‘Fishnet Burns Night’, so filled the gaps with guest skaters from London Rollergirls ‘ London Brawling’ team. Stef Mainey, Grievous Bodily Charm and Sinister Mary Clarence to name a few, gamely donned some tartan and chains (themes were the vogue) to skate for the Highland Heathens and Celtic Chaos and our first ever Home Teams were born.  Our Brawling guests helpfully pointed that we’d underestimated the hall size required for a full track and a short safety panic ensued, about the closeness of the track to the wall – to be resolved by the staff at Meadowbank supplying a pile of crash mats that we  duct taped to the walls! High tech safety feature in place, the game could go on! Fishnet Burns was the first outing of Celtic Chaos and Highland Heathens, and the first (and last) Auld Reekie game ever to be played in Hall 2 at Meadowbank was a success!

That’s Entertainment!

Following their debut, our team went from strength to strength, and played game after exciting game in the cavernous Hall 1 and as we grew, the number of teams and games exploded until we were hosting European teams, doubleheaders, and tournaments and boot camps. With each game came a new poster theme a new skate out song, and a new result. Half time entertainment went wild with pipers, drummers, choirs, jousting on giant space hoppers, audience races, egg and spoons, conga lines, chuck a duck, and so many more. Bonnie Burrito and the bARRG became a must for avid game goers and nothing could raise the heckles and bring a tear to our eyes more than hearing the familiar ‘Auld Reekie You’re so Fine’ chat combined with much clapping and stamping in the bleachers in support of our teams battling it out on track.

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Home Season

After expanding our Home Season teams from two to three and rebranding them, Home Seasons at Meadowbank always created a huge buzz for our league and filled the hall to the brim with friends and family all fired up and ready to cheer the Cherry Bomber under dogs as was tradition.  Home Team themes and identities changed with the rosters over the years and planning the skate out took as much time as learning the game strategies; highlights include the cool and confident Cherry Bombers bursting through a huge sheet of paper held across the track, the Leithal Weapons epic Titanic themed intro complete with cardboard waves, and a majestic Jack and Rose and of course, the Skatefast Club brimming with 80’s attitude entering the hall through billows (thin wisps) of dry ice and awkwardly throwing sweets into the audience. Hands down the most exciting moment in Home Season history was the 2014 season final, when SFC jammer Kiki pulled out a tear inducing, heroic 1 point, last jam win over the reigning Home Season Champs Leithal Weapons.

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School of ARRG Knocks

As our All Star team rose through the rankings, we used the halls and classrooms of Meadowbank to share our knowledge off skates and on, at the annual School of ARRG knocks -the boot camp of all boot camps.  For these, we took the ARRG quirkiness and just like our relentless use of a pun, we took it as far as we could push it.  Not content with hosting 60 skaters of different levels from all over Europe, we wanted to bring something extra, we had a Headmistress, classroom assistants, a school bell, school photographer, packed lunches and even a designated janitor to repair track and clean up spills – everyone dressed up and it was hilarious.  The year 2012 birthed the legendary School of ARRG Knocks warm up, to be bettered every year with Fame themed workouts, boyband dance routines (SOAK 5ive) to an elaborate weapons selecting cornucopia based HungARRG Games themed warm up.  Every boot camp should begin with absolute hilarity, we’ve loved every minute of delivering ours.

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British Championships

May 2015 saw us host our first British Champs Tier 1 tournament, and a determination to make it the biggest and the best atmosphere ever; we decked out Meadowbank in endless amounts of bunting, and posters, we baked more cakes than anyone should see in a lifetime, and we had the biggest crowd ever seen at any Scottish Roller Derby event – the bleachers were full, the noise was unbelievable, and for the first time ever, we had a Bar (or a bARRG)….the Glasgow/Edinburgh friendly rivalry, manifested through loud singing and chants and fueled with drink was a sight to behold. Sadly we lost that day to Glasgow, but we took the win over Rainy City and secured our first ever silver medal!

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Graffiti Art

Our new C Team, the ASTROS (All Star Rookies), came into play for 2016 and it also saw our relationship with the Meadowbank staff tested to the max as we decided to pull in the crowds by grabbing some giant brightly coloured chalks and drawing all over the pavements outside, inviting people to ‘COME WATCH LIVE ROLLER DERBY!!’  Unbeknownst to us, there was a very official fireworks event at Meadowbank planned for that evening, and the duty manager was understandably upset about the state of their frontage. After profusely apologising and spending forever washing the chalk off with buckets of soapy water, imagine our delight when it started to rain so heavily that the fireworks display was eventually called off as well…

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Hands down our most cherished memories are full of chilled out times with our team-mates in the gigantic ‘home’ changing room, when one by one, we gathered on game day – focused, nervous, happy, determined.  Carrying out familiar activities, chattering with nervous energy, chilling out with headphones on, fastidiously laying out equipment and checking lists over and over again.  The changing room became a place for bonding, meditation, visualisation, strategic talks and inspirational speeches; we wrote down our fears and hopes and dreams.  We shouted our values and celebrated our strengths and we dared to dream of triumphs and success, but most importantly, we knew that as long as we had each other we could take on the world.

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At some point, over the next few months, the walls will get torn down and the roof will crumple and our  beautiful wooden floor will be gone.  It’s the end of an era and our future is uncertain as we continue with our search to find a venue available for us to host home games.  Meadowbank, we will miss you – thanks for an amazing decade.

Here’s a wee video of all our programmes from the years


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The Journey From Skate Skills to Intermediate

C-bear tells us all about their journey through Skate Skills 101 through to our inters group and the fun they have had along the way. If you want to sign up for Skate Skills 101 (our new skaters programme where we take you from beginning strides to your first game of roller derby) then email and they will give you all the information you need.

Here’s what C-Bear had to say:

I started learning to skate around two years ago after I watched a friend of mine play her first roller derby game. I had no idea what was going on but it looked like fun! So I bought some awful cheap roller skates and joined the skate skills programme. Like many people I had fallen out of love with physical activity as a teenager and I therefore assumed sport was not for me. How wrong I was! It took me 3 or 4 times to get through skate skills and graduate to intermediate level. Other people passed first time, others took longer. What I love about roller derby is the emphasis on trying your best and supporting your team. I was reassured that my progression would be at a different pace from other people’s and that was okay, I would be welcome anyway. This ethos was something I’d never felt in any other sport before and is what kept me coming back even when I was not feeling great. I kept going and made it to intermediate and it was such a great sense of achievement which everyone shared with me.

The recent InARRGuration game for new skaters was a wonderful experience, we “the vipARRGs” played against skaters known as the “Black and Deck-hers”. We gathered in the changing room with Hex and Fury, our awesome bench coach and line up manager, who gave us some good motivational and reassuring chats. Hex told us about a tactic called “catch a haggis” and drew us a hilarious and informative diagram of what a haggis looked like. Fury then lead us in an off skates warm up which started out with us throwing a ball around and made us all very glad that roller derby does not involve anything to do with a ball! The game began and we were working really well as a team, communicating well and putting into action some of the tactics we’d discussed. We were doing so well and were ahead by the end of the first half. Unfortunately we began to lose our advantage, but Hex and Fury helped us keep our cool. Well maybe I didn’t keep my cool. I really went for it and fouled out about ten minutes before the end of the game. Oops! At least I didn’t miss too much though and I actually managed to enjoy jamming! By the end, the Black and Deck-hers had won, but we had a wonderful time playing them. I was so chuffed to have been given the Most Valuable Player award – maybe I did know what I was doing out there after all! We returned to the changing rooms feeling badass. However I was confronted with a MASSIVE spider sitting on my skate bag, nooooooo!! So after being super brave smashing through walls on the track there I was cowering in the corner because of a spider! I will always be grateful to Stellar for rescuing me from the spider!

Roller derby has really had a positive impact on my life. I used to be the kind of person who claimed to be “allergic to exercise” but now I love it! I have never been fitter or stronger than I am now. I appreciate my body for what it’s physically able to do, rather than how it looks. The wonderful sense of community and supportive atmosphere has really boosted my self confidence, I feel like my girls have got my back!

Thank you ARRG! ♥

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We take everyone with us

We take everyone with us.

It’s hard to capture what it feels like to be part of this team. The sheer amount of laughing you do. The training, the sweat, the particular smell of a wrist guard after training. The planning. The working together. The in-jokes, the bibs. The stress. The worry. The hard work, the determination. You see each other at your best moments, giddy and laughing or triumphant after a win or a great jam, and you see each other at your hardest, under pressure, up against it. After a tough loss. When you come up short.

It does something to you as a group. You show up for each other. You take care of each other. You put up with each other, even if you’re driving each other mad. It’s close to family, really.

Over a season, over the years, you develop rituals. Habits, traditions, jokes. They layer over each other until you barely know who started them anymore.

Someone will lay track.

Someone will plan training.

Someone will coach.

Someone will avoid wearing a bib at training, claiming their shirt is the same colour so it’s not confusing (it’s confusing).

When we go away for a game, someone will ask if there is a sauna.

Someone will tell the story of when Stef went into a sauna alone in Berlin.

Someone will #finddoom.

Someone will remind DD to put Pony on during our off-skates warmup.

Someone will ask if we remembered the panties.

Someone will (sometimes jokingly, sometimes sincerely) ask if we have time to pee.

No matter how many times you do a head count, someone will always be missing (even though that person is sometimes you).

It’s not ‘someone’ because it’s impersonal, or a chore, but these things are a part of us now. Everyone does these things. They’re as part of our ritual as warming up.

When we get to the bench, someone will put up the bunting. We take it with us everywhere. Everyone on the team has their own ‘bunt’, which means that as the team grows, the bunting grows too.


We started a new tradition this year, when we attended our first ever WFTDA playoffs tournament. Someone got everyone in the league to sign a shirt, and we took that with us too. Because it’s not just us that makes the team. The team is a big as the whole league. Every person who lays track, or stays to NSO, or refs our scrimmages, or plans our games, or sells our merch. We take them all with us.


That’s why being Captain sometimes feels like the biggest thing in the world and sometimes it feels like nothing at all. As long as you plot the course together and you take the team with you, it doesn’t matter who you are. You could be anyone.

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It takes a Village…

They say it takes a village to raise a child.
In that case, it takes a city to play a game of roller derby.

Here’s some* of what goes on behind the scenes of roller derby, and why the Reserves are so grateful to ARRG roller derby community for helping us on our journey to British Champs playoffs:


1.      What’s App

Honestly, you can’t leave your phone for 3 minutes to nip to the loo without some ridiculous, hilarious, heart-warming, emotional or urgent appeal for a missing mouthguard pinging your way via team What’s App chats. Teambuilding. It’s not on track, it’s on app.

2.      Families and friends, aka my son’s face when I tried to wash him

You maybe don’t know if you’ve not been up close and personal with a skater or ref, but roller derby really smells. We all do our best to wash our kit, but we train 3 times a week and there will be times where your sweaty wrist guards end up sweltering in your stinky skate bag. So, the people who care about get you back from training smelling like some very old potatoes causally sidled up to you and asked to come home. I tried to wash my wee boy’s hair when I rushed back from training one day. He actually cried, “Can Daddy do it, I don’t want the smell on me”.

I can’t thank my family enough for making it possible for me to play roller derby – they support me, do without me, accept that I need to check forums and write emails, and even ask how training was, knowing that I will tell them, in great detail.


3.      Reffing and NSO-ing at training

Maybe sometimes you get to have an evening off scrims, or you get to leave after your group’s session? Nope, not for some! Many of our skaters come on evenings when they don’t have to, or stay later than they need to, just to make sure we keep to the rules, which some of us still fail to do. Thank you, officials, and sorry for keeping you so busy.


4.      Leadership

When you take on the job of Captain, Vice Captain, Bench or Line up Manager, it comes with a sense of pride and honour at being picked by your teammates. And then you read the to-do list and open the emails…
It’s a given that our leadership team organise travel, accommodation, tactics, training, where we will eat (most importantly), team selection, team development, gameday schedule, “do I have time for a wee?” questions. What you don’t know is that the All Star Reserves’ leadership carry a lifesize version of the whole team on an enormous sheet of paper and display her at different locations to make us feel good and special and part of a wonderful thing. Honestly. Teambuilding. It’s not on track, it’s in the boot of someone’s car being driven to a funny location to have a picture taken.


5.      Inters and AS playing against us at training

What’s harder than playing roller derby? Playing roller derby against a team that train together all the time. Kudos to our Intermediate skaters who prove to be amazing opponents for us. And we get the other extreme when our All Stars train against us at scrimmage… They came straight back from D2 playoffs ready to whip us into shape on track. Thank you. I think.


6.      Coaching

So, coaching. That’s just running a few drills and blowing a whistle, yes? No. It’s mainly working out where the coaching bag is. Like many leagues, ARRG train in numerous locations at various different times. We have people who book these illusive sports halls, plan the training rota, let the league know where they are meant to be, make a training programme, organise the coaches, invent and bring a track-making device. Then we work out (over an assortment of What’s App, email, Messenger, telegram and owls) who has the essential bag of track tape, whistle, bibs and helmet covers. And THEN the coaching begins.

And if we are lucky, once a year, someone will wash the bibs.

*and I haven’t mentioned fundraising and off-skates training and people driving mini-buses and spreadsheets and comms and google docs and pre-game breakfast chat and….

Auld Reekie, you’re so fine.


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Next week ARRG’s All Star team head of to WFDTA Division 2 playoffs for the first time. Getting ready has been a huge operation, involving a lot of lists and a lot of bunting, and lists on bunting. Everyone has pitched in, bringing their own skills and talents!

Here’s 9 things we’ve been doing as a team to get ready to take on D2…


Like many other leagues, we’ve had to raise a tonne of cash just to get our team over to Pittsburgh and our teamies and league mates have worked their socks off to raise funds. We’ve guest coached, put on a feast and flogged cake and merch until we could sell no more. But our most novel fundraising tactic yet….BINGO! Your nan would be proud. All Star teamies headed out to the bingo hall with the agreement that any winnings went into the travel fund. A couple of rule misunderstandings may have rustled some old lady feathers, but it was all worth it for the team bonding and amazing… drumroll….. £52 that was raised on the night! So that’s someone’s hold luggage paid for anyway.

Bingo - learly the best fundraising in the world!

2. THE EPIC TRAINING PLAN…(by Crazylegs)

My focus for Playoffs prep – as well as working out a lot – has been to make sure the team had a custom made all singing, all dancing ridiculously detailed training plan (aka The Plan) to help us feel as prepared as we can be.  With only 5 weeks between end of season and the D2 Tournament, the team needed to hit the ground running and feel supported and organised to work on training priorities. Like all good plans – it was built bit by bit, whilst sipping wine on summer hols!

Our goal has been to create an even more confident and unified team in a tiny amount of time, and we’ve shaped training differently to build up a story from session to session, increasing our confidence and improving along the way. We’ve brought common elements to every session for familiarity and routines that we are taking to Playoffs so we all feel focused, energetic, positive, dynamic and above all, teamy!!

Our league is amazing for helping us focus on this and providing extra resources for the team, and the team has been full of resilience, showing up session after session with aching bodies and tired brains and getting through it with silly jokes and a lot of R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  We’re coming to the end of The Plan on Sunday, and then we have two whole lovely unstructured days to stretch and sleep and relax until we board planes to Pittsburgh where we shall be following the next plan… THE ULTIMATE TOURNAMENT TEAM PLAN that tells us all where to be and when, and when to pee!!

Top secret training plan - no looking now.

3. PLAYING LOCAL RIVALS.. (by everyone!)

Playing local leagues Glasgow Roller Derby and Dundee Roller Girls in the last weeks before we head over to Pittsburgh has given us an extra training boost – thank you guys! It’s been a chance to hone our tactics against other leagues, skate on different floors, to work to specific goals for each game and to have fun.


Getting to playoffs is a huge achievement not just for the All Stars, but for the whole of ARRG. Every single member has contributed: by playing against us at training, volunteering at games, answering emails and filling in spreadsheets, sharing ideas and the thousand other things that drive the league forward every day. And it was important to us to recognise this in some way. So we are organising a team shirt to take with us signed by everyone in the league that helped get us to Pittsburgh. Once it is printed, we will be collecting signatures from all of Team ARRG 2017. We’ll be bringing a little part of the whole of ARRG to Pittsburgh with us, so their hard work and support can inspire us as we take on D2!

5. OWNING OUR WARM UP.. (by our bench coach, DeeDee)

An on skates warm up is one of the last chances the team gets to warm up their derby muscles and derby brains before the first whistle gets the game underway. It’s a chance for the team to work some adrenaline out of their system and up their focus. It’s also something that other teams watch closely and there’s a big psychological element to warming up publicly, and owning your own game.  Early on in our playoff training odyssey, we worked out what worked for us specifically as a team, because each team will choose to prioritise different things during a warm up. We talked about what makes us feel our best as we line up at the start of a game. We’ve run this at every practice from then until we leave for playoffs so that we’re confident, calm and ready when the team takes to the track on game day.


Amongst all the extra practices and scrims, we’ve also been making time to have some important discussions, where we step back and look at what’s important to us. What are our values in life, and what do we love about roller derby? What do we love about our team? We’ve talked about what, if anything, can knock our confidence and what things help or don’t help if that happens. We’ve talked about how we can support each other. We’ve been honest with each other, talked about some difficult stuff and come out stronger without even putting our skates on. I mean right then. We obviously DO put our skates on a lot, but this has been an important part of building trust in each other so we don’t hold back or worry about making a mistake on track – we just go for it.


We want our league, fans and friends to know what’s happening at D2 and to be involved in the action! And for those who can’t catch the livestream, we’ve set up a tournament page on our website so folk can check out scores and game times.  We’ll also be Instagramming away throughout the weekend, for all the LOLs and updates from the tournament floor.

8. PACKING ALL THE THINGS! INCLUDING THE BUNTING! (by… please don’t forget the bunting!)

Tournaments can be crazy places: loads of people, noise, excitement, adrenalin. We have to be careful to let that feed our energy and not drain it. We like to grab a nice quiet spot and make a nice teamy place for ourselves between games. We make sure we have everything we need to make an ARRGy home from home when we travel: with our patented team bunting (grrr…), foam rollers, fave snacks, and Skinner’s never ending flask of hot tea. Sorted. We also have playlists which we train to regularly, to help get us in the right zone when we need to fire up our energy and our brains and bodies to get ready for the next game.


Knowing when not to train is a massive part of smart training! – and in the last few days before we head off to Pittsburgh we will be resting, reflecting, ingesting a lot of protein. We’ll also probably accidentally be sewing our team shirts to our legs as we re-do our WFTDA patches and be obsessively checking they are still there  – *goes to check WFTDA patches are still there*. We want to be in a place where we feel fresh and ready when we take to the sport court on Friday 18th! So soon!

See you there.

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We asked ARRG’s Temple of Doom to tells us all about the up and coming trip to D2 playoffs. Here’s what she said…

In only three short weeks from now, ARRG’s All-Stars will be packing their bags, heading over the pond and braving Trump’s America: all to compete as the number one seed in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s (WFTDA) division 2 playoffs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Getting to the WFTDA playoffs has been a long time coming for ARRG. In 2014 we were ranked 72 at the time of playoffs seeding and still had a few spots to climb before we would be eligible.  After working hard in 2015, we were just outside the rankings cut-off for D2, which back then was 60, and we were ranked at 63. In 2016, we qualified!… but due to various factors beyond our control, couldn’t send a team and someone else gratefully took our spot. So here we are in 2017 and not only have we qualified, but this year we’ve steadily climbed the entire D2 bracket and come out at the top! As a team, we draw confidence in the fact that every climb we have made over these last few years represents genuine improvement in our gameplayEvery game, scrim, extra practice, additional work with a guest coach, time spent analysing footage, off-skates session and early morning gym trip has meant that each rankings increase has been hard fought and deserved.  This year we’ve had the privilege of being pushed even harder by a B-Team that’s currently kicking ass in British Champs  and going from strength to strength.

(Photo credit: Marko Niemiela Photography. Marko Niemelä Photography)

Despite being a long time coming, it is also a very good year to be joining the WFTDA play-offs structure. It’s the year that Gotham (NYC) has finally been dethroned of their world number one spot by VRDL after what’s seemed like a lifetime and the first time one of the playoffs locations has been hosted outside of North America (oh hai Malmo!). This year there are more “international” teams represented in the WFTDA playoffs brackets than ever before. I say “international” because, since it’s reboot at the turn of the millennium, roller derby very quickly spread beyond the USA. Yet “international” often still gets applied to non-US teams, even though really it’s just one big playing field (well, derby track) that we’re all playing a part in, whether you’re in the US or not. This year, in division 2 there are teams from Scotland, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, France, England and USA represented – how cool is that? We are the only Scottish team going to playoffs  this year, and we want to help build up Scottish derby on the roller derby radar. For ARRG, it is great for us to be taking part in what will hopefully be the year we can stop talking about “international” roller derby and just call it roller derby.

Pittsburgh is a long way to go, there’s no doubt about it – getting there will cost us in time, money and our collective carbon footprint. To some extent you could be forgiven for asking, “is it worth it?” But for us, totally, it’s worth it 100%. I’ve already talked about being part of pushing the boundaries of internationalism within the sport. There’s loads for us to gain as a league from mixing up the gene pool: Playing different teams with different behaviours and styles of play is really important for flexibility and depth in our own game. It stops weird rankings enclaves from building up. Put simply, when the same teams play each other locally all the time, this can skew the rankings (which has historically had a negative impact on teams outwith North America), big international tournaments can iron things out. There’s also the small differences in where refs and officials draw the lines of what is or isn’t a penalty which are good to learn from and adapt to. Then there’s the mental focus and endurance that’s needed to play multiple games across a weekend on an unfamiliar floor in a different time zone, which can only help build resilience and strength individually and as a team. Throughout this, we want to learn and assimilate new information so we can take it back to our amazing league and we can all level up.

So, that’s just some of the reasons why we’re excited about heading stateside in a few weeks – and why we hope you’ll be following us and the Division 2 tournament on the 18th – 20th August. We will be adding game times and scores on our our “Division 2 Tournament” page  so be sure to check back to see how we’re doing. Our first game will be on Friday 18th August against Dublin (entering the tourney as 16th seed), who we last took on and won against in 2016.

Then, if we’re able to repeat our previous success against Dublin we’ll be heading on to play No Coast Derby (hailing from Lincoln, Nebraska) or Ohio Roller Derby, and we’ll be charting new territory with either league. And as for the rest, we’ll update you with news as we have it!

Next week in our blog we’ll be bringing you some of the many things we’ve been doing to prep for this tournament so we are at our peak mentally, physically and as a team when we take to the track in Pittsburgh. See you then!

In the mean time….

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All Star Reserves British Champs Campaign. The story so far..

Captain of the All Star Reserves, Cirque Du Slay, has written us a round up of ARRG’s All Star Reserves British Championships campaign and some great info about their secret weapon for the upcoming game on the 12th August at Meadowbank Sports Centre. Here it is with some excellent photos. Want to come along and watch them in action? Buy tickets here.

This is the Reserves’ first year participating in British Champs and it’s been an absolute cracker. Our journey through Tier 3 Women’s North has been an exceptional development opportunity for all of us as individual skaters and as a team, as well as a ton of fun, and we’re doing pretty damn well! As we approach the final games of our tier on August 12th with one eye firmly on British Champs playoffs in September (fingers crossed!), it seems like a good time to look back on all we’ve achieved so far.

We kicked things off back in Aberdeen in April with an absolute nailbiter of a game against the hosts, and our tier’s current leader, Granite City Roller Derby. Top hosting prize for providing blowing bubbles and smiley face balloons, pals! Granite ultimately took the win with a heart-stopping scoreline of 201-199, with both teams playing some pretty epic roller derby along the way.

For our next challenge, we took on Spa Town Roller Girls in Halifax. We prepped good by fuelling up on noodles the night before at a hotel in Huddersfield, to take on a team from Harrogate in Halifax (Reserves’ English geography is coming on in leaps and bounds).

Corridor food ASR.jpg

Obviously this was an excellent strategy as we won by a comfortable 453-58. Here we are celebrating. Aren’t we just sickeningly adorable?

Halifax selfie.jpg

After that we got to host our Tier 3 North pals in sunny Edinburgh, sharing our venue with a wee Iron Man competition, just in case anyone lacked for sporting inspiration that day. The crowd was full of cheering friendly faces from the rest of our incredible league and their support carried us to a second convincing win of 290-77 against Halifax Bruising Banditas.

Our fourth game took us back on the road (karaoke may have featured) to our third country of British Champs so far, taking on Furness Firecrackers in North Wales. Furness came out all guns blazing and there was a tense series of lead changes at the beginning, but we pulled away decisively to take yet another win of 308-134.

North Wales ASR.jpg

Next up, we are hosting all six teams for an exciting final in which we will take on North Wales Roller Derby for the chance to make it to British Champs playoffs in Stoke-on-Trent in September. There is everything to play for and we are sure of a great day for not just our team, but all of our wonderful opponents, officials, volunteers, fans, organisers, announcers, bout crew, designers, track layers, PA operators, social media updaterers and videographers who make all the good fun roller derby happen.

The Reserves are feeling pretty confident about this game, cos we have a secret (?) weapon and her name is Big Shirl. Big Shirl may be two-dimensional, but she knows how to make the most out of life (pictured below on a casual intergame fashion shoot), and she is the ultimate teammate. She is made up of every single Reserve who has played for us in this tournament, and of the combined strengths that every single one of us contributes to the team. She contains our goals, our successes, our best bits, our in-jokes and our reasons to be proud. She has been with us in Aberdeen, in Halifax, in Edinburgh and in North Wales and soon she will be back with us for our final game, cheering us on and reminding us of how hard we have worked and how much we’ve improved and all that we are capable of together. Come see.

Big Shirl photoshoot.jpg

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