Bout Report: Team Scotland vs The Best of The Rest (aka "Team Steve")

As everyone who follows roller derby should be aware, the first ever Roller Derby World Cup is due to be held in Toronto, in the first week of December. 13 countries are sending national teams to the event, including Scotland. The final make-up of Team Scotland has been determined for a while now, after a series of elimination rounds, to select the best candidates from those who put themselves forward.

Of course, the one problem with having a national team is... who do you play against?

Team Scotland decided to solve this problem in the most pragmatic way possible: since no other team exists who can play you in Scotland, you'll have to make one. Thus, "The Best of The Rest" team (playing under their adoptive name of "Team Steve") was formed, consisting of the best players from Scottish leagues who either didn't make the national team, were ineligible for selection (by, for example, not being Scottish themselves), or just didn't put themselves forward. Indeed, Team Steve even contains Dundee Roller Girls' Psychomilly*, Granite City's Rock'n Riot and Ruby Riot and Auld Reekie's Velosidy; the reserves for Team Scotland itself!

With a suitably awesome team created, all that was left was to set a time to play them. 10/09/11 has a nice feel to it as a date...

So, assembled in the ARC sports hall, at Glasgow Caledonian University, at 1300 hours, the world's first public demonstration of what Scottish Roller Derby could manage began...

...with the skateout! (Here we can see just how awesome the Team Steve boutfits are, which is impressive, considering how little time they had to make them...)

(For this bout, we'll be referring to The Best of The Rest as Team Steve and TBoTR, to save electrons. "TS" will always refer to Team Scotland.)
*In addition to the Team Scotland fund for attending the World Cup, Dundee Roller Girls have a separate fund for flying Psychomilly over as a reserve. The donations can be made from the Dundee Roller Girls website.

Period 1

The bout proper began with Team Scotland demonstrating extremely impressive team coordination over the first seven bouts, with Team Steve scoring only a single point, to the national team's 29 (that point being in the 4th jam, where Ruby Riot (08) fought her way through the pack ahead of Marshall Lawless (f104), but only scored a single point before she had to call it, thanks to great cooperative blocking from Fight Cub (182) and Bronx Betty (319), and from pivot Viper (29) ). In fact, it was the difference in blocking cohesion that made the difference in many of the jams; in the first jam of the bout, for example, Team Steve jammer Megan Hyndman (4) was neck and neck through the pack with Team Scotland's Minnie Riot (7), when Fight Cub and Bronx Betty knocked her down, handing Lead Jammer to Minnie. Jam 3 (VIDEO) was another excellent example, with TBoTR's Psychomilly (69) only caught at the last second by pivot Crazylegs (77), allowing Mo B Quick (66) to pass her and get those lovely points.

Marla Mayhem storms through the pack (jam 5).

So, with the first period almost one-third gone, it was looking as if the national team was going to find this very easy, the score standing at:

29 Team Scotland : 01 TBoTR

You can never afford to be complacent in roller derby, however, and while Team Scotland decided to take the knee into jam 8 (video), it was Psychomilly who stormed through the pack to take lead jammer, and 3 points, while Team Scotland's Fight Cub was recovering from a hip-check from Tartan Tearaway that knocked her off track.

Go Faster Swipes caught as a goat.
Things quickly started going the national team's way again in the next jam, with TBoTR's Megan Hyndman sent to the sin-bin for one track-cut too many, handing Mo B Quick a power jam (although not lead jammer). With Team Scotland's fantastic blocker teamwork enabling them to grab Go Faster Swipes (17) as a goat, the pack was essentially stationary for a good part of the jam; the only serious opposition to the TS jammer endlessly completing scoring passes being Sykes (360°). The only consolation for Team Steve was Megan Hyndman returning to the track, where she managed to pick up a single scoring pass herself before the jam went to time.

After an official time-out to check the minor penalty totals acquired by skaters, leading to TBoTR's Sister Grimm (57) skating off to the sin-bin, play resumed in jam 10 with Team Scotland once again taking the knee.
For the second time in the bout, this back-fired on them, Team Steve's Ruby Riot squeezing through the inside-line (with a little help from pivot Venus Velocity (666)), ahead of Marla Mayhem (13), although not cleanly enough to take lead-jammer. In fact, the TS jammer spent much of the jam stuck behind a wall composed of Venus Velocity and Lucky Hateball (8), while Ruby Riot lapped the pack a couple of times, Cilla Block (24) clearing TS blockers out of her way.

Now that The Best of The Rest had warmed up, it looked like this might be a bout to watch, with the score now standing at:

50 Team Scotland : 17 TBoTR

half-way through the first period.

Announcer Helliverence engages in his favourite pastime:
Mexican Wave directing.
With Team Steve down a blocker to the sin-bin, the national team took a knee into jam 11 and for the first time managed to get lead jammer, Minnie Riot completing her initial pass ahead of Psychomilly, despite Jackash (911) and, at the head of the pack, Velosidy (16) doing their damnedest to stop her. Minnie didn't have enough of a lead to score points, however, with the pack fast.

Another official time out, and a Mexican Wave orchestrated by announcer Helliverence, later, we started jam 12 (VIDEO) with Marla Mayhem poodling off to clear her minors for later jamming. An exceptionally slow Team Steve split the pack at the start of the jam proper, but Team Scotland's Clinically Wasted (111) exited the pack first, with Danger Mouth (55) delaying Megan Hyndman long enough for the national team's jammer to pick up a single scoring pass before calling it.

Mo B Quick and Rock'n Riot, no distance, no score.
It looked like Team Steve were slowly gaining the measure of their opponents, and the next two jams continued their pattern of incremental improvement. Jam 13 started very slowly, with Team Scotland dawdling behind the pivot line, but it was TBotTR who excelled themselves in blocking, a wall of Velosidy, Sister Grimm and Tartan Tearaway proving sufficient to block Mo B Quick at the front until their own jammer, Rock'n Riot (9) had fought her way back through the rest of the pack, after an early block by Marla Mayhem put her some distance behind. As it was, the two jammers exited the pack near simultaneously, and the jam ended with no score.

Marshall Lawless experiences a... small impediment
to her initial pass.

With Psychomilly poodling off at the start of jam 14, it was Sykes' turn to jam for Team Steve again, and she effortlessly threaded through the pack to take lead jammer, a safe distance ahead of Marshall Lawless for Scotland. Bronx Betty proved a little harder for Sykes to pass when scoring, however, and the Team Steve jammer was forced to call the jam in the middle of the pack; but not before an astonishingly fast Marshall Lawless shot through the entire pack on the inside-line!

With less than a third of the period left, that excitement had only moved the scores slightly from their earlier position:

57 Team Scotland : 19 TBoTR

Cilla Block, Leeeaaad Jammeeerrr!
With Team Scotland taking the knee into the 15th jam, once again to take advantage of Team Steve having a blocker in the bin, Team Steve took the benefit; Cilla Block weaving through the inside-line and to Lead Jammer status ahead of Clinically Wasted. With an impressive turn of speed, the Team Scotland jammer showed why she's in the national team, eating up the TBoTR jammers' 120° lead and passing her just before she was due to score. Cilla had no choice but to call the jam immediately, no score.

The 16th jam (VIDEO) started with Team Steve pivot Jackash taking a fall inadvertently back-blocking against Bronx Betty, and taking out Team Scotland jammer Mo B Quick before she could get up. It was probably worth the trip to the sin-bin, as Rock'n Riot took lead jammer pretty effortlessly with the resulting lead, and looked on track to complete a perfect scoring pass until Fight Cub hip-checked her to the ground; by the time she was up, Mo B Quick was almost through the pack herself; the Team Steve jammer called it, but all too late.

Team Steve's good luck continued into the 17th (VIDEO) jam, Team Scotland blocker Lily Lethal (5) having been sent to the sin-bin in a short time-out immediately before. With both teams below strength in the pack, it was Psychomilly who slipped down the inside-line to take lead jammer while Velosidy and Ruby Riot caused trouble for the national team's Wild Oates (360°). With the pack pretty fast, Psychomilly had just enough time to pick up 3 points before calling it.

With only five minutes left in the period, Team Steve were slowly nibbling away at their points deficit:

60 Team Scotland : 26 TBoTR

Team Scotland took their time passing the pivot line at the start of jam 18 (VIDEO), so that Lily Lethal could complete the last few seconds of her penalty time and rejoin them on track. Obviously, it was worth it, with jammer Fight Cub effortlessly threading through the pack to take lead jammer, while Team Steve's Cilla Block was taken out by Marla Mayhem (who subsequently took a trip to the sin-bin). With a stupendous lead, the Team Scotland jammer had no trouble completing a scoring pass, calling it safely immediately after.

Jam 19 (VIDEO) saw Mo B Quick storm through the pack to take lead jammer, despite there only being two Team Scotland blockers on the track. Despite having a good half-track lead on Rock'n Riot, the Team Scotland jammer called it with no score as she faced a seemingly impenetrable (and very fast) TBoTR wall on her scoring pass.
Intense blocking from Velosidy and Scary Wollstonecraft (27) ultimately failed to prevent Marshall Lawless from taking lead jammer for Team Scotland in jam 20 (VIDEO) either; Psychomilly got the worst of it, however, after numerous hip-checks from Danger Mouth eventually sent her to the track… where she didn't get up. The jam was called (with no score) by the referees for medical attention to be rendered; after some checking that all her pieces were still attached, the Team Steve jammer was able to hobble off the track to cheers and applause from the audience.

The unexpected pause in proceedings meant that there was time for just one more jam in the first period, with TBoTR taking the knee into the jam for the first time in the bout, (VIDEO) releasing Megan Hyndman to elegantly thread through the pack, squeezing between Crazylegs and Fight Cub to take lead jammer. Minnie Riot wasn't too far behind her, however, and with a fast pack (and the intimidatingly good Bronx Betty first to pass), Megan called it with no score.

Leaving the score at half-time at:

64 Team Scotland : 26 TBoTR   

This is the dedication that fans bring to Roller Derby!

With half-time comes the prospect of cakes and merchandise. In this case, the cake bakers had excelled themselves, with the massive array of cupcakes proving particularly attractive to buyers.
Meanwhile, the fully stocked Team Scotland stall was available, with Team Scotland t-shirts, fridge-magnets, pendants and many other items for sale, including t-shirts from all of the contributing leagues.

Period 2

Returning to play in the second period, Team Steve were obviously keen to get going, taking a knee into the first jam (VIDEO), but their efforts were in vain; both jammers effortlessly skating around the pack in almost identical time (Marla Mayhem on the inside line, and Megan Hyndman on the outside). With Marla outpacing her in the open, the Team Steve jammer called it with no score.

Sykes and Wild Oates, inseparable!
The next three jams didn’t go very differently, with only a single point being scored by TBoTR’s Cilla Block in jam 2 (VIDEO), and jams 3 and 4 ending with no score. (Jam 3 due to Megan Hyndman exiting the pack first, but uncleanly, allowing Clinically Wasted to call it as lead jammer a few seconds later. Jam 4 featured almost synchronized skating between jammers Wild Oates and Sykes, sharing numbers (360°) as well as performance; with literally no distance between them, there was no chance to safely score.

With the teams apparently deadlocked, it just needed one side to slip up for it all to change.
In the fifth jam, that’s what we got, Marla Mayhem threading through the centre of the pack to take lead jammer, while Cilla Block was hampered by a coordinated Team Scotland pack, recalling their performance from the very start of the bout. Walling from Whisky Galore, Lily Lethal, and (Danger Mouth/Bronx Betty taking turns) kept the Team Steve jammer within the pack for two whole scoring passes by Marla, who was happy to call the jam as soon as Cilla escaped.

With just one jam, Team Scotland had shifted the score to:

74 Team Scotland : 27 TBoTR

With Clinically Wasted cougaring off at the start of jam 6 (VIDEO), we returned to normal service for the period for a while, Crazylegs foiling Megan Hyndman’s almost flawless initial pass with a great hip-check; whilst the Team Steve jammer still exited ahead of Marshall Lawless, there was very little in it, Hyndman called the jam with no-score.

Similarly, although TBoTR took the knee into jam 7 to take advantage of one of Team Scotland being in the sin-bin, and Ruby Riot took lead jammer, she had too little time on Fight Cub to safely score.

Two disappointing jams for Team Steve, then, but third time's the charm; jam 8 (VIDEO) saw Team Scotland's Mo B Quick checked at the front of the pack by Velosidy (pivot) and Jackash, allowing Psychomilly to take lead jammer with a very comfortable lead. In fact, Mo B Quick was still in the pack when the Team Steve jammer made her scoring pass, only to be comprehensively hip-checked by Danger Mouth; the jam was called from the floor!

Still, all this positive momentum for the underdogs was catching, and Team Steve took the knee into the next jam to preserve it. It paid off, Megan Hyndman squeezing narrowly down the inside line to take lead jammer impressively quickly, while Minnie Riot was still catching up to the pack. Nevertheless, there wasn't much space between the jammers until Minnie slipped on the track, leaving the TBoTR jammer enough room to score a single pass before calling.

A rare moment with no Team Scotland players
 on the track at all!
You can't blame Team Scotland for getting a little bit rattled at all this sudden resistance from their opponents. Maybe what they needed was a little quiet time to cool off. Despite a nice Team Steve wall at the front, Clinically Wasted took lead jammer as the pack was split by her teammates to free her. Meanwhile, Sykes was having trouble with TS pivot Crazylegs and blocker Danger Mouth, keeping her in the pack despite the best efforts of her team mates. Even after a tumble saw Alma Geddon sent off for a low-block major, and Marla Mayhem joined her shortly after for blocking out of play, the two TS blockers had the TBoTR jammer safely controlled… until they were sent off too! 
It was a short trip to the sin-bin and out again for the latter two skaters, however, as the rules prevent more than two blockers per team remaining in the sin-bin at a time. As soon as Alma Geddon and Marla Mayhem had served their full minute, however, the pair had space to sit in for longer; Alma and Marla were happy to take over the job of making Sykes' life a misery. Indeed, despite all of Team Scotland's blockers being sent off in short succession, they were also the only team to score in the jam, Clinically Wasted completing two grand slam passes over the full two minutes.

A day in the life of a blocker.

Coming into jam 11, with two blockers still in the sin-bin, Team Scotland’s Fight Cub really showed what she was made of, taking lead jammer just ahead of Psychomilly, despite the pack being biased against her. Given a fast pack, the TS jammer took the time to coast around the track with her opponent until Danger Mouth and Crazylegs had served their penalties, then turned on the acceleration to score some points!

With 15 minutes left on the clock, Team Scotland were starting to pull ahead again, the score at:

87 Team Scotland : 37 TBoTR

With the 12th jam of the period, Team Steve were handed a chance to reverse the trend, however, with resilient blocking forcing Clinically Wasted to cut track just a bit too far, ending up sent to the sin-bin. With a power-jam handed to her (but without lead jammer, due to her own track-cutting), Megan Hyndman found Team Scotland’s blocking cohesion to be a major impediment. An impenetrable wall from Minnie Riot, Whisky Galore and Viper kept her from completing her first scoring pass for the entire 2 minutes, leaving her with only 2 points to show for her efforts.

Team Scotland weren't about to let Steve pick up any more momentum, however. After a time-out to discuss strategy, they took the next jam, (VIDEO) hard and fast, Minnie Riot storming through the pack, although not cleanly enough to take lead jammer. That didn't matter quite so much, however, as Ruby Riot also failed to make a clean pass, meaning that the jam would run to time. With both jammers performing excellently, there were plenty of points for both sides before the end; only slightly fewer for the national team, thanks to some sterling blocking by Team Steve pivot Lucky Hateball at the front of the pack.

Team Steve try desperately to stop Mo B Quick picking up more points
in her power jam.
It was the 14th jam that really started to seal the national teams' victory, Mo B Quick storming through the pack, avoiding a last-second block from Jackash to take lead jammer. Cilla Block, jamming for TBoTR, was having a harder time of it, having to battle past hip-checks and blocks from Bronx Betty and Lily Lethal, only to get sent off as she cut track a little to pass Lily at the front. Handed a power jam, Team Scotland grabbed Venus Velocity as a goat to slow the pack, although the rest of Team Steve didn’t make life easy for Mo; Sister Grimm being a particularly persistent assailant. Still, there was a limit to the resistance TBoTR could provide, with Team Scotland (+goat) able to split the pack to eliminate the most resilient walls. By the time Cilla Block returned to the pack, 14 points had wended their way Team Scotland’s way.  

With only 8 minutes left in the bout, Team Scotland looked like having an unassailable lead,

110 Team Scotland : 51 TBoTR

not that that means there's any reason not to keep fighting.

Indeed, jam 15 (VIDEO) saw another photo-finish initial pass by jammers Fight Cub and Megan Hyndman, although Hyndman took lead-jammer, Fight Cub's superior pace forced the Team Steve jammer to call it with no score.

Jam 16 (VIDEO) looked like being yet another photo-finish pass by Team Scotland's Alma Geddon (42) and Ruby Riot, only for the TS jammer to be sent off (her referee had actually been trying to send her off for some time when she noticed). With the risk of a serious score from the power-jam, Team Scotland pulled the pack speed up as fast as they could, really making Ruby Riot work for her points. By the time Alma Geddon returned to the track, Ruby had only completed her first pass, her second being abruptly curtailed by Wild Oates hurling pivot Minnie Riot into the jammer to knock her off track. Playing it safe, the Team Steve jammer called it soon after.

After minimising the effect of a power-jam, Team Scotland obviously felt the need to improve their points buffer just a little bit. (VIDEO) Clinically Wasted stormed through the pack double-quick, while Psychomilly found Fight Cub and Danger Mouth impossible to pass, despite them being the only Team Scotland blockers on the track! By the time the rest of Team Scotland had returned from the sin-bin, Clinically Wasted had scored a pair of grand slam passes, only to get stuck behind Psychomilly herself, still on her initial pass. Deciding she'd done enough for one jam, the TS jammer called it, the score now at:

120 Team Scotland : 56 TBoTR

with only 2 minutes left.

The penultimate jam of the bout (VIDEO), saw Marla Mayhem vs Megan Hyndman. The Team Scotland jammer powered through the pack effortlessly to take lead jammer, with Hyndman delayed by just long enough by Mo B Quick for Marla to complete a single scoring pass, weaving through the opposing blockers at speed before calling it.

And finally, with 55 seconds on the clock, the final jam of the bout. (VIDEO) Fight Cub exited the pack first, slipping around the outside line, and taking lead jammer, with Ruby Riot two-thirds of the track behind her. Despite the lead, a Team Steve wall composed of Venus Velocity and Scary Wollstonecraft and Jackash delayed the TS jammer long enough for her opponent to catch up, both jammer completing their scoring passes as the jam was called…  

…leaving the Final score:

127 Team Scotland : 60 TBoTR

Aftermath + Awards

Although the score apparently belies it, this was a hard fought bout by both sides, which is no embarrassment to Team Scotland, considering the number of reserves and final-round candidates in The Best of The Rest. Still, the team with the superior cohesion and team-work won out, and their performance bodes well for the World Cup in December.
(Team Steve, meanwhile are looking for a rematch, so watch this space.)

Team Scotland and Team Steve!

The awards (awarded to players by members of the opposing team) were:

Hateball, Team Steve's MVP

Best Blocker
The Best of the Rest
Team Scotland
Wild Oates

Best Jammer
The Best of the Rest
Megan Hyndman
Team Scotland
Clinically Wasted

Most Valuable Player
The Best of the Rest
Lucky Hateball
Team Scotland
Crazylegs, happy MVP!

Notes and Acknowledgements

Thanks to the Team Scotland Roller Derby for an excellent game.
Thanks also to the creator of the bout programme, Lucky Hateball, and to announcers Helliverence and Mistress Malicious.

The video and photographs used in this report are all taken by me on a Sony A580 with the kit lens, and no flash. A playlist of video and album of photos from which they are drawn are at:
Photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/102032801144714237554/TeamScotlandVsTheBestOfTheRest10September2011?authuser=0&feat=directlink 
Video: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7ED7E9764DA8AB62
(Also shared on Google+, and a copy on Facebook)

Professional photography for Team Scotland is handled by the excellent Dave McAleavy, who has a website for his bout photos.

This bout report, and all media therein are licensed CC-BY (Creative Commons : Attribution), which means that they are completely free to reuse and remix as long as I am given a credit as the author. You don't have to ask permission first as long as you do that.

As always, this report, and any inaccuracies within it, are purely my own. All corrections and comments are gratefully received.