Gearing Up For Our Home Bout

Loop #19
Loop #19

At HRD we all have job to do on and off track.  As someone who’s always enjoyed organising things, when it came to choosing a role I put my hand up to work in the Bout Coordination area.  I’ve been with HRD for almost 5 years, and in that time I’ve worked on Home Bouts for British Champs, standalone games outside of champs, I’ve supported at bigger events like Heartlands and Champs finals and the inaugural MRDWC in Birmingham 2014.  I’ve often thought of planning a bout day as a bit like planning a wedding; there’s people coming from near and far, you have to ensure you have the right officials present, you have to check the venue capacity and regulations thoroughly, and there’s definitely got to be enough cake for everyone.  Whereas with a wedding if you get sick of catering to your third cousin twice removed you can scrap it all, save the money and elope to Gretna Green, there’s no eloping in Derby.  The show must go on.

The first thing you need to do is secure a date.  Being part of champs, the dates are provisionally given to us by the champs committee, they work incredibly hard to schedule over a hundred games nationally across all tiers and divisions minimising clashes in similar areas.  Once we’ve been allocated to a tier and division (we’re in T3W East this year) we start ironing out the details with the other team.  We get given a provisional date to host, then it’s a case of checking with the venue if they can host us that day and doing a little juggling.  We were fortunate this year that we could swap dates with another team to secure our home bout date, April 9th.  At this point, I start getting things moving.

I like to secure the ‘people’ first.  Refs and Officials are kindly rallied by the Head NSO and Head Ref, which is a massive help to growing leagues that don’t have a full contingent of officials yet.  It’s a great example of the community spirit of Derby where people come together to make things happen.  We have a growing number of NSO’s in our league, and you’ll see several of them donning the grey for us on the day.  I think next year we might even have a few of our own refs donning stripes, that’s a really exciting thought! We support them just as much as we support our bouting players, there’s a role for everyone in Derby and it’s incredible to see how much HRD has grown.

Medics are a requirement for the day, as a full contact sport there is always a chance of someone getting hurt.  We’re fortunate in Derby that we have some great medics available in the shape of GB Emergency Medical Services.  I’ve worked with Dave – Pastor PainKillaz – in organising attendance at all our home bouts in recent years.  On a good day, we won’t need them for anything more than an ice pack occasionally, I wouldn’t trust anyone else to be trackside with us though.  I feel that Dave and his team have invested time to know our sport and I love that some of them have their own derby names.  I try to get the medics booked in as quickly possible as they can be in high demand with so many Derby events in the national calendar.  I’m happy to report they’ll be with us again this year.

Next comes announcers.  Announcers are like gold dust I find, it can be incredibly difficult to secure an announcer as they are in limited supply.  Many of the people who have announced at our home games over the years play many roles in Derby; we’ve had Dr Stevel who also NSO’s at an international level and Bench coaches Mild Discomfort, Veloskitty from Birmingham Blitz Dames helped out one day, Niks Dotty who was Men’s Team England Manager, and Philthy Delphia from Norfolk Brawds has also got on the mic for us.  They announce, they skate, they NSO, they bench, is it any wonder they’re so hard to secure ?!

There’s one announcer that’s always had my heart though, Snoogins.  I remember my first ever Derby game, October 2012, as part of the End of the World series where Snoogs was Line Up for Milton Keynes Concrete Cows and during the skate out she stood on track in a hood with scythe, I knew this was a girl with style.  Snoogs has been involved with Derby for at over 5 years now, and has been a LUM and NSO for MK while developing her announcing skills, and she’s always my first port of call.  Snoogs has announced at some world class events, including the inaugural Men’s Roller Derby World Cup in Birmingham, the Women’s Blood & Thunder Roller Derby World Cup Dallas and Men’s Roller Derby World Cup in Calgary last year.  It’s an absolute honour to have her with us again this year.

So, once the venue, officials, medics and announcers are secured it’s time to get on to the nitty gritty detail of the day.  The running order of the day is standard for champs games, the home team plays second, from here I tend to sketch out my times roughly then add detail in around it.  I tend to err on the side of caution and budget a little extra time in so that we don’t run over the time we have for our booking.  So, 60-90 mins for set up, 45 mins for each half and 30 mins for clear up seems to be about right from what I’ve picked up over the years.  It’s amazing how quickly people can get everything picked up when they know there’s an after party to get to! This plan can get tweaked a little over the weeks prior to the day, but generally once the outline is set I know how things will run.

We are lucky at HRD to have so many people in our network that are talented and willing to help.  The wonderful Jooles has done our programme design the last few years, and we are thankful that we had her help again this year.  The coordination of all the little bits for the programme can be a little dazzling, it’s like a jigsaw, you can’t see the bit you need is right in front of you!  There can be almost a hundred photos from all the teams and officials, all in different formats, sizes and named differently, so getting them sorted and together is a job in itself!  Then there’s the advertisements, game info, league info, and after party details to be added.  Our lovely co-chair Fawn has also been an eagle eyed helper this year, helping to bring it all together.

The thing that I hadn’t realised about organising a home game prior to actually doing it is how much goes on across the league to support in the run up to the event.  There’s a huge effort from our PR team to drive awareness of the game locally, which includes getting on local radio and talking about the sport, flyering in the local town centre, contacting local business to buy advertising space in our programme; HRD PR really know what they’re doing!  Then we have our raffle volunteers, and our cake bakers who ensure we have awesome prizes and an abundance of cake, nobody goes home from our bout hungry!

On the day itself it’s very much all hands on deck.  Our lovely league members rally together to fulfil jobs such as manning the raffle, cake and merch stalls, the ticket desk, managing the twitter feed, videoing the games and generally being helpful to all our guests.  It’s a real team effort, and I’m always humbled and proud of how things come together on the day.

Photo by Neil Biggs.

So here we are, only a few days to go now.  I’ve got the pre-event jitters that I normally get, wondering if I’ve forgotten something really important and double, triple checking everything.  I’ve printed out the running order for the day, allocated jobs to everyone and now it’s just a case of counting the rolls of track tape for the umpteenth time and making sure everyone is happy.  By Saturday, the jitters will have turned to excitement and like the wedding planner I’ll be running on adrenaline.  There’s no bride walking down the aisle on the day, just 14 players per team, all kitted up and ready for the time of their lives.

Sound exciting…?

Come and see the bout! There will be cake, a raffle, merch, and lots of derby fun!

More details here: http://www.hertsrd.co.uk/event/hells-belles-vs-rebellion/ 

Save £2 by buying tickets online: http://hertsrd.tictail.com/products/tickets  (£10 online / £12 on the day)

 

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