Glasgow Roller Derby have been crowned British Champions after a stunning set of performances which saw them go on a five-game winning streak.
GRD’s all-star team won the inaugural British Roller Derby Championships – with emphatic wins over teams from Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham and Middlesbrough.
The competition culminated in a two-day derby extravaganza – held in Glasgow – on May 30 and 31.
Hundreds of fans crowded into the ARC sports centre to cheer on their heroes and were treated to an amazing display of sporting prowess, skating skills and blistering action.
Tribute has been paid to the all-female Glasgow league for flying the flag for Scottish sport – continuing the legacy of sporting achievement which put the city on the world’s centre stage during the Commonwealth Games.
Glasgow Roller Derby are first in the UK Roller Derby Association rankings and second in Europe (outside of London Rollergirls) – a remarkable achievement for Scotland’s first roller derby league, started by the skaters themselves in 2007.
GRD co-captain Grace Maclean – aka Mona Rampage – said: “I am so proud of my league and my team. We went unbeaten throughout the British Championships – winning all five of our games against the cream of the crop in UK roller derby.
“To lift the trophy with my friends and league-mates was something I will never forget. We’ve worked so hard as a team and an organisation – it genuinely means a lot for us, our friends and our fans.
“Winning the championship is the culmination of months of hard work from everyone involved with GRD. I hope we’ve done Scotland proud and that everyone can draw inspiration from what we’ve achieved together.”
This is the first year of the British Roller Derby Championships – which featured four tiers of female teams, comprising 13 divisions. There were also three tiers for male teams.
Glasgow was in the top tier – alongside elite teams such as Auld Reekie Roller Girls from Edinburgh, Middlesbrough Milk Rollers, Tiger Bay Brawlers from Cardiff, Birmingham’s Central City RollerGirls and Rainy City Roller Girls from Oldham.
Glasgow went into the final weekend at the top of the table, with three wins from three games – knowing two wins would secure the inaugural trophy.
Meanwhile, the leagues at the other end of the table were fighting to avoid the drop into the second tier – with two teams destined to be relegated.
That set the scene for a pulsating weekend of derby action – featuring thrills, spills and more than a few skills from all the skaters involved.
Thanks have been given to Glasgow Sport for its support towards the staging of the event, as well as everyone at the British Champs, UK Roller Derby Association and Derby Duck Productions.
Saturday saw Central City RollerGirls (CCR) narrowly defeat Rainy City (RCRG) 129-124 in a fantastic opening game, with both teams desperate to win in a bid to juke around relegation.
GRD then took to the ARC track knowing a win would put them within a toe-stop of the British Championship. In the end they won convincingly – beating Middlesbrough Milk Rollers (MMR) 205-119.
Auld Reekie Roller Girls (ARRG) and Tiger Bay Brawlers (TBB) supplied the action for the final game on Saturday, with the Edinburgh team taking the win and all three points to remain second.
Into Sunday and GRD had an early start against Rainy City. But any hopes that the Gallus Glaswegians would be caught napping were quickly put to bed as the all-stars won 227-131.
Game two then served up a cracking, evenly-matched contest as Tiger Bay took on Middlesbrough. Potentially both teams had a chance of snatching second – although a massive points swing would have been needed.
It was a nail-biter the whole way – with the lead changing hands repeatedly as both teams competed brilliantly on the track. It seemed MMR had edged it in the final seconds with a dramatic 164-163 win, but a point had been missed and the readjusted final score was 164-164 – meaning the contest had to go to an overtime jam to decide the winner.
Everyone watching in the hall – and around the world via the live stream – were then treated to two minutes of action they would never forget. Both teams scored in the breathtaking final jam, but MMR edged it – just – 183-178.
That put MMR on nine points – equal with Auld Reekie, but behind on points scored and conceded. The Edinburgh team then consolidated their second-place position against CCR, winning 168-152 in another closely-fought contest that went the full distance.
Glasgow co-captain Grace Maclean said: “Six sensational games took place on Saturday and Sunday – involving around 80 skaters, dozens of referees and non-skating officials, and hundreds of fans.
“The games were also broadcast live on the Internet and watched across the world, so it genuinely was a team effort from everyone involved.
“I want to say a massive thank-you to all who supported the event and helped to make it happen – especially the roller derby fans who provided such an amazing atmosphere.
“It was a genuine thrill to be involved and to host the final weekend of action in the first year of the competition. To win the trophy unbeaten is a fantastic achievement for everyone associated with Glasgow Roller Derby and we hope we’ve done our city – and our country – proud.”
The adventure doesn’t stop there for GRD. They hope to compete again in America soon – flying the flag for Scotland in the country where modern-day roller derby was born.
The meteoric rise of Glasgow is no fluke – it’s the culmination of years and years of training, practice scrims, skills sessions, endurance work and league organisation.
For more information on the league, visit www.glasgowrollerderby.com