Auld Reekie Roller Girls face Scottish Derby Battle

Photograph taken by Sara Marsden

by Stephanie Abbot

Photograph taken by Sara Marsden
Photograph taken by Sara Marsden

When you flick, click or switch to the sport section of a newspaper or website, you don’t often see Roller Derby in the headlines.

However, here in Edinburgh, the Auld Reekie Roller girls are preparing for an all Scottish tournament coming up on Saturday 26th November . The local team, put together in 2008, was the first Scottish members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) and now has over 100 members.

Named after ‘Old Smoky’ , an affectionate Scottish term given to Edinburgh, The team prides itself on its inclusiveness, welcoming women of all backgrounds, this also means trans-women. The team require players be at least 18 or over.

I caught up with one of the club’s Astro Team Captain’s Princess Die (Lisa Williamson), to find out more about the less than conventional sport and she said it’s  been described as ‘rugby on roller skates’ and said  ‘it’s a full contact sport with a similar tactical premise as Chess as you score points by passing members of the opposing team on the track.’

Lisa also explained why diversity is such an important value for the team to uphold.

“Roller Derby has always been very accepting of the LGBT community and we also work with a lot of women who work for charities helping people who are under-represented . We are all women at the end of the day and we have all faced some kind of discrimination at some point so we want to make sure that everyone feels welcome and included. We want to be a safe place for people to come and participate regardless of anything else”

When it comes to success stories, Auld Reekie Roller Girls have had their fair share.

The Girls are currently sitting 2nd in the National ranking according to the UK Roller Derby Association (UKRDA) and the clubs C team Astro have won their last two games by more than 300 points.

Popularity for the sport is growing with just under 70 teams having joined the Member leagues at the UKRDA and many other smaller teams popping up across the country.

Lisa aka Princess Die also explained that players using nicknames is a big part of roller derby culture but warned that:

‘You have to be careful when choosing your nickname for example, mine is often shortened to ‘Die’ and when the team was travelling home from Belfast after a tournament, my team mates were trying to catch my attention and kept shouting ‘Die! Die! Die!’ needless to say it didn’t go down that well.’

Lisa urges anyone who is interested in roller derby to come along and give it a try and that’most people find that after one time you are hooked either as a player, volunteer or spectator’.

The tournament, hosted by Auld Reekie Roller girls is aptly named ARRGmageddon and will ‘roll off’ at 11am on Saturday 26th of November and will feature teams from Aberdeen and Dundee. Tickets are on sale now.