Carnage on eight wheels

Roller derby team Blackpool Rollercoasters have their first training session in Bispham.

Roller derby team Blackpool Rollercoasters have their first training session in Bispham.

  • by Steve Canavan

THEY could have taken up knitting or crochet, or some other gentle, risk-free past-time.

But Laura Brennan and her friends weren’t having any of that.

Instead they choose to spend their spare time getting knocked to the floor and picking up all sorts of cuts and bruises.

Laura and pal Kate Doran have set up Blackpool’s first ever Roller Derby team.

‘What’s that?’, we hear you cry. In a nutshell it’s an American sport that involves lots of people hurtling around a sports hall on roller skates at speeds of up to 35mph while attempting to avoid being rugby-tackled to the ground by the opposition.

In other words, it’s not for the faint-hearted.

“It’s basically carnage,” admitted Laura, who lives near Gynn Square in North Shore.

“But I hope that doesn’t put anyone off joining in because it is absolutely brilliant to play.

“Yes, it can get rough, it is full contact and you will fall over. But you wear protective gear and the trick is learning how not to get hurt. And anyway, you condition yourself to the bruises after a while.”

The sport was huge in the 1970s but fizzled out. Now it’s making a comeback.


>> Roller Derby is a full contact sport played on roller skates. There are five players from each team on the track at any one time; four Blockers and one Jammer. The Jammers need to get round the track passing opposing team members to earn points, the other teams Blockers will be trying to stop her and vice versa.

>> There are 64 pages of rules and all sorts of weird and wonderful tactics, including Ending the Jam, Passing the Star and Goating

>> Roller Derby originated in America and was first played in Chicago in 1935. Each game lasts one hour

>> It featured on TV for the first time in 1948, the National Roller Derby League began in America 12 months later. The end of season play-offs in that first year sold out Madison Square Garden for a week

>> Roller Derby’s popularity waned from the 1980s onwards, but it has made a revival in the last decade, especially among women. It caught on in the UK in 2006 and a national league was formed

The Blackpool Rollercoasters, as Laura and Kate’s team are called, have begun training sessions ahead of plans to join the UK League next year.

They already have 22 women signed up, aged 18 to 40, who meet every Sunday at Bispham Community Centre ... though explaining just how to play the sport can take a while. “There are 64 pages of rules,” said Laura. “Think of American football and all the nuances, and then imagine if they played on wheels ... that’s why we’ve so many rules to learn.”

For those fretting, it’s not all rough and tumble and you don’t have to be an expert skater either -– beginners are welcome.

The club is also looking for referees and NSOs (Non Skating Officials) to keep track of time, points and penalties.

For more information go to:




Back to the top of the page