Fair City Rollers: Roller Derby
When it comes to participating in sport at a local level, few clubs offer an experience as fast-paced and thrilling as the Fair City Rollers (FCR), Perth’s flat track roller derby league.
Established in 2009, the club is skater owned and operated, offering weekly sessions for all abilities as well as the opportunity to play for the team, The Fear Maidens.
Kirstin Guthrie, player, coach and Board Member at Fair City Rollers commented, “The team is female only but the league is open to men, women and non-binary people. Our only condition is that you are over 18 – it is a full contact sport after all – and willing to throw yourself into the fun!”
In normal circumstances the club take over Bell’s Sport Centre for their weekly training nights, and has partnered with the iconic sports venue to create never-before-seen markings on the 50 year old court!
“Bell’s Sport Centre is a fantastic venue for training each week, as well as a great location for hosting our home games. In fact Bell’s is considered the best floor to skate on in Scotland due to its unique grip. The Live Active Sport Development Team has been a great support, working with us to ensure we have what we need to develop. The rink spreads over two of their normal sized courts and is oval in shape, which proved somewhat of a challenge when the tape went down!
“We also worked with LAL to secure a silver standard PACES accreditation, the benchmark for good governance and well run clubs in the area. Because the sport is still relatively unknown, it means a lot to us to be recognised as one of the area’s leading clubs.”
Logan McConnachie, Senior Sport Development Officer at Live Active Leisure commented, “Fair City Rollers were one of the first clubs to achieve silver status when we relaunched PACES back in 2018. They are a great club to be involved in, really open and honest, and focused on achieving high standards. In fact they’ve used the lockdown period to update their PACES accreditation and start forward planning for their return.
“Behind the scenes, the club have a targeted approach to development including the development of their volunteers and connecting with the wider Perth and Kinross communities. The club is run by the skaters, for the skaters and they will endeavour to continue their adventure, by always making decisions with their members’ interests at the forefront.”
Their come-and-try sessions are famed for their electric atmosphere thanks to a group of supportive and enthusiastic volunteers who champion the sport. This, along with greater profile at a national level, has seen FCR continue go from strength to strength; they now boast over 40 members, including skaters, referees, and non-skating officials.
The regular increase in new participants has also allowed The Fear Maidens to grow as a team, and they are now taking part in a greater number of competitive fixtures against opposition from across Scotland. Last year they celebrated two home wins, against Orkney Roller Derby and New Town Roller Derby – made all the more special as they marked the first wins for FCR in their 10 year history.
This Sunday 19th April FCR were to play their first home game of 2020 against Lothian Derby Dolls; it will be rearranged when it’s safe to do so and Kirstin promises “FCR will be back, bigger, bolder and even more determined.”
What Is Roller Derby?
Roller derby is a full-contact sport played on quad roller skates, by two teams skating around an elliptical track. The game consists of a series of two-minute countdown jams, is fast, furious and full of adrenaline.
At the start of each jam, each team sends five players onto the track: one Jammer (point scorer), three blockers (defensive/offensive players) and one Pivot (a special kind of blocker).
The Jammers’ aim is to skate a full lap, scoring a point for each opposing skater they pass. The skater’s role is twofold: to stop the opposing Jammer, and to help their own Jammer pass.
They do this by landing heavy shoulder or hip checks on opposing players, shoving them out of the way or knocking them to the ground. Illegal hits result in time served in the penalty box, legal hits of course help the Jammer pass!
Q & A With Kirstin Guthrie, volunteer Coach, player and member of Board at Fair City Rollers
Kirstin Guthrie has skated with Fair City Rollers (FCR) for almost 6 years, and coached for the last two. She is also a member of the Board, helping to direct and run this growing club.
How did you get into Roller Derby?
I used to go the gym and various fitness classes but really wanted to participate in something that I had a natural passion for. I loved roller skating as a kid and when we moved to Perth I bought an old pair of skates and skated around the North Inch. I got a few strange looks but I didn’t care. I was hooked on skating again!
FCR were recruiting but at that stage I wasn’t quite brave enough to try it. However, a few years later, after having two kids with reflux and suffering sleep deprivation as a result, I decided it was time to give it a go. I’ve never looked back. Being part of such an empowering sport, full of wonderful people, is amazing.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
Being able to pass on skating skills to others and helping develop their confidence and skating is extremely fulfilling. I also love encouraging others to be part of the wider FCR team as a referee or non-skating official.
Generally, I feel that if we’re able to, we should all give a little something back in life somewhere along the way. If you find something you enjoy and have the ability to share and help others, then why not?
What are you doing during lockdown?
Fair City Rollers feels like an extended family for many of us, therefore keeping connected during this difficult time has been essential. We’ve completed the ‘put your top on while doing a handstand’ challenge and the throw a toilet roll challenge!
We’ve also enjoyed some (COVID guideline friendly) outdoor-skating close to home, and many of us have been teaching our kids and family members how to skate!
Importantly though, we’ve shared lovely photos of pets and babies, enjoyed group video calls and been able to share concerns, worries and frustrations in our wee community.
We can’t wait to get back on our skates, hit each other (legally) and generally just have a good old laugh face-to-face. But in the meantime we’re all doing our best to stay home, stay safe and be there for each other in any way we can.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying out roller derby?
FCR really is an amazing team of people, from a huge variety of backgrounds, of all ages and skating abilities and with many differing life experiences. We would love to hear from anyone who’s thinking about roller derby. Email us now and we can get you ready and excited to start come lockdown lift!
Monday 8pm-10pm, at Bell’s Sport Centre. You must be 18+.
Experienced derby skaters are always welcome, as are non-skaters who are keen to learn. Regular players are only too happy to share their skills, and have devised a tailored 20 week course that promises to “get you on your way to roller derby butt-whooping”.
The club is also keen to hear from anyone who may be interested in refereeing or becoming a non-skating official (NSO). As a note, referees are also on skates!
Keep an eye on their Facebook page – search Fair City Rollers – for their next intake following the lockdown lift. https://www.facebook.com/FairCityRollers/
Kirstin’s Tips: Wear something comfortable and bring a refillable bottle of water. Skates are available on a first come first served basis and are limited so be sure to book in advance when we announce our next new skater intake.