So long, and thanks for all the fish!

So this is it. This is my final blog post.

Argh it feels weird. Good but weird.

Before I leave, I wanted to share some thoughts that have been swimming around my head as I prepare to cut you all off for good (lols).

I think this list can be best enjoyed to the tune of Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free (To wear sunscreen)”, feel free to hum along in your head.

  1. Whatever part of roller derby you get into, network. Go and meet as many people in your situation as possible and create friendships. You need to help each other. If you can, get a mentor. Then when you’re good enough, mentor others.
  2. Buy skates that fit. They don’t stretch as much as you hope they will.
  3. If you think you’re shit, you’re probably not. If you think you’re mint, you’re probably not. This sport is ridiculous and not to be taken too seriously. As long as you’re trying your best, don’t beat yourself up. If you have already stopped trying, maybe consider stopping entirely.
  4. If you upset more people than you please, you’re the problem. Not everyone else.
  5. In the words of a non-derby person I know “roller derby is a sex cult”. If you are a willing participant, then enjoy. Derby has a lot to offer you.
    However… You know that song “roller derby saved my soul”? I’m pretty sure it did the opposite for some. I know first-hand that it caused an awful lot of heartbreak. Don’t be reckless with others peoples’ hearts and don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. #recklesswheels. (Because God knows a derby comedown is difficult enough).
  6. With that in mind, ROLLER-DERBY-FAMOUS IS NOT A GET-OUT-OF-JAIL-FREE-CARD (and neither is the growing need for officials). There are so many rising stars – and so many people waiting to fill in the spaces – that you shouldn’t allow someone to get away with bad behaviour in whatever guise it presents itself. Protect yourself and protect your team mates.
  7. When you leave roller derby you will realise how often you blew off real-life things to do derby. If you’re like me, you will feel a huge amount of regret about this. You will see your derby friends continuing to do it. They will even do it to you. So before you say no to that one-off celebration that your best friend invites you to, make sure that you ask yourself “Is skate practice really more important?” Sometimes it will be and that’s fine. Good friends will forgive you to a certain point… but trust me when I say it’s fucking hard to do.
  8. Tell people you admire that you admire them. Don’t be a suck up, but do tell someone if you think they’re good at what they do. It’s nice to hear and it doesn’t happen often enough.
  9. If you’ve been saying for a year that you need to take a break… you really need to take a break. You will have terrible FOMO, but trust me, you can step away for months and jump back in. No one notices.
  10. There is life after derby. And it can be exactly what you want it to be. Beautiful, scary… and just the next step in your ongoing unfolding life. Don’t be held back by any misplaced feelings of obligation or duty. You do not owe anyone else your time. Reclaim it and do whatever the hell you want with it (even if you decide you actually really wanna go back to derby). There is more to travelling than seeing the inside of sports halls.

So, that’s it.

In an effort to properly move on, I’m now going to delete people on FB that I only know through derby and have never actually spoken to about anything other than derby. I currently have nearly 1,900 “friends” on FB. I think a normal amount of friends is more… what… 500? That’s a lot of people I don’t really know, who now see a lot of posts about me having taken up field hockey.

If you disappear from my friends’ list and you actually want to be friends… friend request me. Just don’t talk to me about derby drama – I’m done with it.

If you want to reinvent Ref School… please do it. I’m not precious.

If you need to reach me, you can still email me:

Aaand. That’s it. Thank you for a wonderful nine years. Good luck. Oh yeah, and wear sunscreen.

It’s just a game, you realise that right?

I’m a terrible roller derby fan.

I never know who the higher seed is. I don’t know the derby famous players and rankings bore me senseless.

When I used to play I could never remember which games we won or lost, or even if we had played a team before. But I would always remember games at which I had made friends or managed to pull off something I had been practising for months.


I see roller derby for what it is. A sport. A game. It really doesn’t mean more to me than that. Granted I work hard, I train and I study. But I participate because I enjoy it and I want to be the best I can be.

When I was a skater I used to write “Only I can do this” on my arm as an affirmation. I would look at it before I jammed – not because I thought had super powers… but because only I can play the game I play. Only I can win this for me. I feel exactly the same as a ref… it’s just I’m playing a different game.

I’m no longer trying to race through a pack, now I’m doing a hardcore hazard perception test on wheels. I’m trying to call all the penalties (extra points for the super technical ones), get all the scores right, communicate fast and effectively AND look awesome. Obviously that last bit is easy. *snorts*

My aim is to be better than I was in my last game. Always striving for perfection.

I don’t tend to compare myself to other people; this is my journey and I’m kicking my own ass every day.

I would prefer to spend my time and money visiting somewhere I’d never been before or to ref with or for friends – rather than officiate a game because of how good it would look on my CV.


I love to see people enjoying themselves on track (I love people doing spins and awesome toe stop work simply because I can’t and think it looks awesome), and I like games where weird stuff happens and I have to test my knowledge.

But, and this may sound weird to you, during the game the people on track don’t mean much more to me than pawns in my game of Hazard-Perception-Ref. They’re potential points and penalties. That’s genuinely about it. You’re something for me to test my knowledge and skills on.

Can I dodge you when you fly off and hit me? Yes? Extra points for style.

Did I call that super technical cut when everyone changed direction, someone fell over and the jammer did a star pass? Probably not. Who the hell am I kidding.

But YOUR game isn’t MY game. And YOUR game doesn’t impact on MINE in a way that you may think it does. If I’m having a bad game it impacts on you – which is why I don’t let your game rub off on mine. No offence but sometimes you guys on track can be batshit cray. I need to be zen. I need to be in the zone. I do not think about you guys and how this is going for you.

If there is a lead change it doesn’t affect me. If there is one point in it it doesn’t affect me. I will still be beasting myself in the same way I always do. Still trying to be the best ref from the first whistle to the last, correcting myself as I go and learning with every jam.

My game is just that. Mine. And I love it.

I mention this because at the weekend I was told that someone had said I shouldn’t be allowed to referee South Wales Silures because Mat plays for them. He’s my fiance. Yes. But unless he trips me over and my leggings split up the back (genuine fear), his actions are just the actions of a skater to me. (Actually, even then he would just be a skater… but I do worry about the leggings thing.)

I thankfully get to ref people I like and love in varying percentages. Similarly I spend a proportion of my time refereeing people who don’t like me. That doesn’t change my goal.


My life is made easier by well mannered players, a ref crew that works well together and a happy atmosphere. But if that’s not the situation I’m facing… I still give my all. I work differently and I put on a different face. I change my techniques and I once again try and win reffing for me.

That’s why everyone who told me about the above suggestion of bias said that I was “too professional” for that kinda thing. But that’s weird too… because this isn’t my profession. I don’t get paid for this. I actually do all of the above because I want to win my game – I want to come away knowing I was cool, calm, collected and correct.

I still never bother looking to see who wins. I check my scores. I correct any of my mistakes. Then I go home and watch games back to see how I could improve my game.

If you needed evidence that Mat’s just a skater on track to me, he threw up during a game I was reffing and I didn’t notice. It wasn’t a penalty and I was JR for his team so he wasn’t a point for me. He wasn’t important in that moment (sorry babe).

So… now I have cleared up that I don’t spend every waking second on skates fretting that Matthew has a good game and DEAR LORD I HOPE HIS TEAM WINS, allow me to share my MEC 2015 highlights:

  • Reffed four games. All as JR. Didn’t get subbed out for a single one.
  • My leggings didn’t split and my new hairdye didn’t run.
  • Got to ref again with my favourite JR, Metal Ed. Having not refereed a game together for months we slipped back into it perfectly. Called lead from under his arm twice.
  • Got a compliment from Miss Trial. Huge kudos. Tried to play it cool.
  • Witnessed some perfectly communicated and timed ORs, three times they were questioning things I was about to ask for official input on. All were won by the teams.
  • Ate a bite of macoroni cheese pie. Regretted it. Haggard.
  • Saw Cat, Sniper and Alice. Hugged them all for ages and enjoyed it massively.
  • Met my fiance out the back of the building for a little snog after our final games, reminded me of MEC 2014 when we got back together. Made me so unbelievably happy… and still not biased.
  • Caught several AMAZING star passes. Missed one. Laughed out loud and had to rescind a jammer lap point. Barrow are brilliant at star passes.
  • Gave one lead that shouldn’t have been lead. Had a total mind-blank on how to undo it. This was picked up by almost EVERYONE. Thankfully after about the tenth mention it started to become funny. I’ll never do this again.
  • Saw a brilliant Low Block call by Rocky. Extra points to Rocky.
  • Watched Steven Thomas rocking IPR, impressing me again with how much he has come on in a year.
  • Worked with the best score keeper ever, Nick Goodrick. He rescued me from three potential scoring issues. So great to work with.
  • Got told that I’m “annoying” by the CHR when I was doing warm ups during our ref meeting.
  • Got sworn at and shouted at by several skaters, got tripped up by one (Didn’t lose sight of my jammer though, so extra points). Got apologies from three of them.
  • Hid behind my hoodie so no one could see my expression as Pablo Diablo scored a 30 point jam against SDRD in the final. PABLO. Really. Awesome.
  • MAJOR SADNESS as I didn’t get to ref a French team *weeps*. Dem accents tho *swoon*.
  • Drank a beer during the awards standing next to one of my favourite skaters, Samdroid. He had fouled out of his game and I hadn’t noticed. Bad friend.
  • Had a huge Peroneal Tendonitis and Plantar Faciitis flare up meaning that the moment I removed my skates I couldn’t walk.
  • Danced with Gif and Kalamity at the after party and enjoyed touching all the medals of all the people that wore them. Even Shrooms who kept hiding his inside his t-shirt.


I watched two games back the next day and am proud to say I look well chilled. Me and Ed work so well together it’s sickening. I don’t mind the bad lead call and that missed star pass because I’m so proud of the rest of it. My game was bloody brilliant.

The crew I was on did a fantastic job overall. The skaters seemed to enjoy it. A team won. Some other teams didn’t. Some were nice, some weren’t. I think I had four of the best games of my reffing career. But I’m still not content. My next game will be better.

Allow me to introduce you to… Ref School

This plan came to be when I was made aware that a lot of leagues want to help their baby refs but don’t know where to start. In the name of sharing best practices, furthering the wealth of roller derby refereeing and generally being a good egg… I wrote this plan.

All info has been taken from WFTDA, MRDA and other reliable sources and compiled by Von Sleaze with help, input and contributions from Orla Skew, Duncan Disorderly, stubble entendre and Rev Riot.

Special thanks to Orla Skew and Duncan Disorderly who have copy-edited and fact-checked all my work, and donated their time to this project so generously.

This is not meant as an exhaustive plan, but a guide to make sure newer referees are taught everything they need to know to start out in roller derby.


Ref School

Who, what, when, where and how?
Ref school is for newer refs. It goes through everything in the rules and includes some guidance on whistle-blowing, confidence and personal development plans.

It is a 12-week programme and will require someone to teach sessions. It is best run with one or two head coaches and support from others. If your league has a HR, ask them to be involved.

I suggest a mentor system and further training plans – these are an ideal but certainly not a necessity if your league can’t support this.

The sessions are best run in tandem with your league’s training, with “classroom” style training for an hour and then the chance to watch/officiate scrimmage afterward. The sessions are written with this time frame in mind unless stated in the weekly plans.

The weekly sessions are broken down into a step-by-step guide and links to help. I would suggest sharing the links and others you find with the newbie refs and encouraging conversation and learning throughout.

Skating skills:
It is advisable that referees complete the WFTDA min skills with a roller derby league. This gives a referee the chance to learn a variety of skating skills, stops, starts and how to withstand the occasional tap (and of course time to bond with a team).

However not all of the skills are necessary for refereeing, here is a breakdown of the skills a ref should learn in min skills:

Ref school is a structured 12 week plan:

This should be completed in full. Each week is important so if a session is to be missed, this should be raised before the induction of the training and should be caught up at the earliest opportunity.

The sessions are not all the same length – some are longer because they’re full of facts that won’t need much explanation, others will open up a fair amount of discussion. Pre-read the session before teaching it so you know what session you have ahead of you.

The broken-down plans can be found here:

Some of the sessions refer to these bloody useful sheets written by Orla Skew (aka Zebra Skew: They break down reffing positions and explain where to be, what to look for and how to prep:

All sessions can be paired with drills, I haven’t stipulated what drills on all sessions, only the ones where a certain drill is really needed. To help you compose your lessons I have compiled some good drills I have used in the past to help give you some inspiration:

Further sessions and keeping it fun:
If you have the manpower, include additional extra-curricular meet ups to discuss things in more detail or go over things that didn’t stick first time round.
Use this as a team-building exercise outside of normal training times. I’d highly recommend doing this a couple of times if you can.

I would also recommend doing something purely for fun i.e organise headshots of everyone in stripes or take a trip to watch a game together.

Levels of refereeing:
Completing this course will not necessarily make you a game-ready referee. Your HR and coaches will be in a better position to address your suitability for games.

To help with this grading of referees, here is a guide you may wish to use/adapt at your league:

There is also advice in there for leagues looking at when to progress their referees and when to look into certification.

Continued support:
Refereeing can be a lonely venture – please offer additional support to keep your zebras interested.

I recommend offering a mentor to newer refs from within your ref crew, someone else for them to talk to aside from the course tutor. If this isn’t possible, consider speaking to other local ref crews, or skaters within your league. This will help the new refs to network.

Advise the newer refs to log their learning somehow (googledoc, diary etc) so they can see their progression and pinpoint any sticking points in their learning.

Once your refs have completed their 12-week plan, ask them to think about their future and work on a development plan with them – see here for more details on this doc:

Consider looking at training yourself in giving feedback and constructive criticism too – you will be asked to give it, so best to prepare yourself so it’s a positive experience for everyone.

So… that’s it. All I can say now is GOOD LUCK!

If you have any questions about the plan, contact me here or on:

Any questions about the rules, ref training, ref certification or other should be sent to WFTDA directly:


Ref Cert: Staying within the lines

So this just happened: 

So bloody pleased. Even more so that I did it in tandem with my ref buddy stubble entendre. Well done champ. Well done.

It’s been a year since I applied for certification for the first time. When I did it, I wrote this blog:

I wanted to document the process because it wasn’t clear to me and there were things I was just expected to know. I have been told by others going through the process that they found that blog post really useful – so I’m writing one to show the things I have learnt in a year of being certified… about the process of certification.

Number 1: You have to wait a full year to apply to level up
I thought getting Level 1 was ace and within the year I would be able to gather the evidence needed to prove that I was at Level 2, go for it, and get it. I was wrong. Your certification lasts two years, but you need to hold your cert for one whole year before you can apply to level up.

You can also apply to level down… if after a year of being certified you decide the lower level is better for you, you can apply for this in the same way you would apply to level up.

Number 2: Letters of recommendation v Feedback
I didn’t know about feedback when I applied for Level 1.

Think of it like this: When you apply to be married the council have to display your intentions on a roster/board that people can view and raise any objections they have with it… e.g you’re not legally allowed to get married.

It’s similar to application for certification. You apply, they put a list including your name and what level you’re applying for on the WFTDA forum and all certified officials and WFTDA reps can access this and contact ref cert to say YEY or NAY (with evidence) to help with the decision on whether to give you what you’re asking for. This feedback is taken in email form and is only seen by the people who give out certification. It is not made public.

I didn’t know about this because I wasn’t on that forum (because I wasn’t certified), and no one else told me. You may not have known about it either, but now you do.

The thing with feedback is that it relies on people spotting your name and being driven to message in. I’m not confident enough to leave this kind of thing to chance so I opt for letters of recommendation.

As mentioned in my previous blog this isn’t just a free-for-all where you ask everyone to write in about how ace you are. It’s best if you pick say three people you have worked with recently who are already seen highly in the eyes of ref cert (made friends with a Level 5? You best be asking them to vouch for you!). This letter will hold the same weight as feedback from the WFTDA forum.

Ref cert accept letters of recommendation from anyone for any level. They do not add them to the certification checklist unless they are required for a person to apply at that level. I have been assured by ref cert that all feedback and letters sent in are read.

Number 3: Everything has an expiry date
But trying to pin down what bits and when is difficult.

However, these bits I do know: If you have passed a written test and a new one comes out, you have a grace period of a month before your old pass is null and void. That means you need to get your application in to ref cert to be considered asap. They only check them once a month remember, so don’t hang around.

If you do your skating skills and don’t apply to cert for ages, you should re do it within two years. It’s generally understood that you will do this skating skills assessment annually, but that’s more for your benefit to track your progress (to make sure you’re not slipping and to prove to yourself and others that you’re physically up to the task). But if you have it on file, ref cert will drop it off after two years.

Evals will purge after two years. Unless they are needed for any grievance procedures or similar. That’s actually pretty useful – you don’t want to be judged now on your ability to ref two years ago, right?

Number 4: Sometimes things change
So completely by accident I found out that the cut off date for applications changed. It’s now the 10th and not the 15th of each month.
The day you find out your results has changed too, it used to be the first day of the next month and now it’s from the 26th of that month onwards, with public announcements being made on 1st. More info on that and the FAQs here!

So if you’re one of those leave-it-til-the-last-minuters… DON’T. Because if you wait til the 14th to hand in your application, you’ve missed that month’s intake and you’ll be assessed in the next month.

Also there is no review in December… Everyone needs time off.

And last but not least… ref cert no longer use regional email addresses, just for everything now.

So that’s it from me – GOOD LUCK!

About referee certification:
Ref cert FAQs:
Previous blog post on ref certification:

As a last minute addition I was asked to join the Heartlands SE division and JR their double header in Hertfordshire. Ed drove. Top of the Pops 1998 CD in the car. YES.


Ok so it’s no secret that I don’t like JR. I find the counting stressful, I hate all the little intricate rules on things, I hate that people get pissy with you for not seeing other stuff when you’re just focussing on your jammer. But most recently, I have hated that it HURTS MY ANKLE SO BLOODY MUCH. I’ve sussed out where the tendinitis comes from – it’s from the plough position that I put my right foot in so often. I push out on it on corners when I JR, I stomp it down when I want to stop quickly, and I use it to slow me down when I’m going too fast. I use it a lot. That does however mean that I get horrible pains up the outside of my leg and at my ankle and skating stops being fun. Suggestion from stubble: Bend your legs more. ACTUALLY working. Damn him for being so clever.

I JR’d with Danger. Ed was the HR and the rest of the crew swapped around during the two games.

Things that didn’t work so well: The hall was crazily orange so I had to squint at times to focus. Also at one point I skated out to go to the loo, didn’t realise there was a dip on the otherside of the door and went arse-over-tit. That knacked. 

Things that did go well: The reffing. Seriously. It was the first time that I really enjoyed being the JR. There were some odd things and some textbook things… and I called all of them. I got the nod from Ed a few times when it was a confusing ending and I held up the same amount of points he counted too, and he said at the end he was happy with how I reffed. It felt good actually. It was just what I needed to boost my confidence before the Euros. 

Sent a message to Cherry afterward as part of the mentoring she does, explaining how I finally enjoyed a double header as the JR. She replied about how it can be a really comfortable position to be in so she will keep pushing me. I laughed and said I was a way off being comfortable so not to worry… she replied: “You’ll be comfortable long before you know you are”.

Touché Fury. 


Imma go France next week and then Belgium a few weeks after because I LIKE DOING TOURNAMENTS.
It’s out there and now I can never take it back.

Tournaments test me in a way that I like. I miss out on the competitive side of skating. I make up for that by pushing myself to be the best that I can in refereeing. But turning up, meeting six people and being expected to gel with them instantly for an hour, to then skate away and maybe see them again at a bout in the future… it leaves me dissatisfied.

Tournament refereeing makes you form a bond. (hilarious typo there of “bong”.)
You’re stuck with these six (sometimes more) people and you have to work through your differences because you’re with them for at least two days. It’s like all the derby drama of being in a league condensed. But with about 90% less bull shit.

You over-share because it’s not a real environment for making friends. You bond over daft stuff, you help eachother out, you invariably see eachother in states of undress. It’s a really compressed version of normal events, and that’s why you find so many diamonds.

I wont lie. I also love the tired-beyond-wanting-to-cry feeling that you get with it. The “Oh jesus, what is that smell?”. The “Is Shref on your crew? DO. NOT. FALL. ASLEEP”. I love it all. I love pushing myself. I get to train hard in the run up to it, preparing my body like I used to as a skater.


Ok. I’m in love with tournament refereeing.

But Jesus, have you seen how hot the crews are these days. Can you blame me?

Derby Does Dallas

Two years, two months and two weeks after I took part in my first ever roller derby bout as a referee, I will be part of the officials crew at the Women’s Roller Derby World Cup in Texas.

Words cannot do justice to the feels this is making me have. Two world cups in one year. I fear I may have peaked.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me. You know who you are and you know I love you.

To anyone who would like to help me get to Dallas, I’ll be doing a series of ridiculous fundraising events in the run up to it… donations would be most welcome and will be split between me, Metal Ed and Rollin Rat – my CCR ref buddies who got a place too:


Today we had another ROAD TRIP OF AWESOME to Milton Keynes. In the beautiful sunshine. To a sports hall with no windows. Aw yeah!

Trav drove (in his new dad-mobile) with me, Metal Ed and Rocky. Sitting in the back me and Ed wound Trav up the whole time to prepare him for his baby coming. I’m genuinely surprised that I didn’t get shouted at. He’s gonna be an awesome dad.

The bout was a double header – first up was the Milton Keynes womens’ intraleague and then second was Team Ireland v the Quads of War. I was OPR along with Robo Kop and Angel for the first bout and Huggy for the second.

First thing to throw me: They were wearing brownish-grey and sandy-cream but their team colours were grey and brown respectively. MINDF*CK.
Second thing to throw me: Sutton in the audience.

It was an odd one. Someone chucked a helmet cover at me (I don’t THINK they wanted me to take up pivot for the next jam… that was a total let down for them if they did) and someone skated into me and kicked my foot which made me want to do a power cry but I SOLDIERED ON because I’m SUCH A BLOODY MARTYR.

Then something happened – I got really annoyed with myself for the first time in a long while. The penalty box NSO held up a sign in the 30 seconds between jams saying a skater was needed to come to the box. That skater wasn’t on track. I saw they weren’t on track and my mind went blank as to what to do. I shouted Ed (he was HR) but the jam had started before I thought – hmmmm, am I meant to call this dead or not? And I didn’t. It’s weird because I know that’s exactly what I’m meant to do… and it just didn’t happen.

At the end of the jam I told Ed, the Delay of Game penalty was given and no one seemed too bothered – except me. I guess it’s indicative of learning new things. Well over a year in and I’m still having those moments of mind-blank. At least they’re far fewer than they were.

In good news, I’ve been back at the gym this week and I didn’t feel too pushed fitness wise at this bout, so hopefully the World Cup won’t be as much of a shock to my system as I worried. Oh and I changed the lacing and insoles in my skates (and made the plates zebra-print) and now they feel AMAZING.

Excited about the weekend!

Two weeks to go

It’s only two weeks til the World Cup and I’m starting to brick it.

I am not running at 100% at the moment.

I got ill on holiday and spent three days in bed with a fever. After that I had an illness hangover of feeling shaky and having what was basically a bad head cold. I had a solid week off any exercise and then tried to go back to the gym… Managed about two days and was wiped out by a water infection.

Cue me eating jam on toast none stop as the only food I can handle… I’ve put on weight and feel like even walking upstairs is a chore.

Training Baby has been harder work than normal – I’ve had to have my iPad with me all the time to check her rules questions because my brain is failing to give me the information.

So. Two weeks to go and my brain and fitness is failing me. NOT THRILLED.

Today was the first ever Brummies intraleague. It’s three days til Christmas and I’ve just finished another 10 hour shift of rolling news, picked up Mimey Vice, skated in the roller disco that runs before the CTB sessions to All I Want For Christmas Is You and I am just wanting to go home. I need to wrap the gifts that are still waiting to be wrapped, and maybe have a bath. But NO. The Brummies have other pans.

Me and Trav are down to jammer ref. OH THE JOYS. We talk about Scott Pilgrim. It’s very laid back. Yan is wearing outrageously tight leopard print leggings.

Half way through I go to drop off the points and land on my arse. Backwards. Everyone cheers. Trav shouts OH COINS. About three jams later he falls and gets concussion and has to go to A&E. It’s always a competition with Trav.

He’s fine mind. Before he leaves he tells me I levelled up today with jammer reffing. I am so hungry I barely listen. Oh and I stink. And still need to wrap gifts. And I’m working tomorrow. And xmas eve. I think reffing today was a bad idea. The Brummies did good though.